Futsal team wins national championship
What began as a youth soccer coaching tool stressing short passing and ball possession has resulted, five years later, in a national championship for the Dream Team Futsal Club of Arlington.
Comprised of eight high school freshmen, all town residents, and coached by Ken Kohlberg, DTFC captured the 2014 Under 15/16 title at the United States Youth Futsal championships in Gardner, Kan.
Futsal is a modified form of soccer with five players per side. The smaller and heavier ball, and the typically indoor playing surface less than half the size of a regulation soccer field, results in an emphasis on creativity, ball control, and passing in small spaces.
The term futsal is derived from the Portuguese “futebol de salão,’’ or “hall football.”
Kohlberg was coaching the Arlington Soccer Club’s U-9 girls select squad when he turned a fascination with the “tiki-taka’’ style of soccer played by the professional FC Barcelona team into reality for his players.
“Futsal was the perfect way to introduce that style to them at an early age in order to teach possession soccer,’’ said Kohlberg, who in addition to coaching youth soccer through the U-14 level, founded DTFC in 2012.
That year, the DTFC U-13 team won the United States Youth Futsal Northeast Regional tournament in Boston and competed at nationals. However, the team did not advance past pool play.
At this year’s regionals in Hanover, the team won all three pool play matches and was a semifinalist. That, along with a semifinal finish while playing up against U-18 teams in the Massachusetts Futsal Association, resulted in an invitation to nationals.
The team members, who shared equal playing time: Juliana Bird, Mackenzie Roy, Heather Gallagher, Elizabeth Horgan, Olivia Jones, Insa Mannstadt, goalkeeper Xheni Lushi and Kohlberg’s daughter, Anna.
“We have no captains and no set starting lineup so everyone contributes,’’ said Kohlberg, who was a three-sport athlete and hockey captain at Newton South High, class of 1982.
Last fall at Arlington High, all played soccer on either the varsity, junior varsity, or freshman teams with the exception of Gallagher, who suited up for the junior varsity squad at Rivers School. Playing up a grade level at nationals against regionally-based teams from Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, and Queensland, Australia, DTFC allowed only eight goals and won the national title against Virginia, 5-2, in a game that featured a spectacular header by Roy off a floor-length pass from Lushi.
“We played with an unrivaled level of intensity and with deep mutual respect for each other,’’ said Kohlberg, who used a goalie, two-forward, and two-defender formation. “We may not have been the most highly skilled team at nationals, but we were certainly the most united and focused. From the beginning of November, the girls gave up their Saturday evenings to practice at the gym at Belmont Hill School to prepare for the season with the goal of returning to nationals.’’
The team manager, Beate Lanske of Arlington, handles logistics, including uniforms and equipment, registration for leagues and tournaments, and travel arrangements.
Since late February, the championship trophy is being shared by each team member, who keeps it for a month.
“By the time we’re done passing it around,’’ said Kohlberg, “we’ll be ready to start next season.’’
Graceffa to enter coaches’ Hall of Fame
Mike Graceffa, longtime assistant football coach at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional and head football coach and athletic director at Maynard High until his retirement in 2009, will be inducted into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Graceffa, a Maynard High graduate, assisted Tom Lopez at Lincoln-Sudbury for 23 seasons and was previously honored as the MHSFCA Assistant Coach of the Year. He also coached at Littleton High for three years and was head coach at Maynard for 14 years.
Also among the inductees is Everett High’s highly successful head coach of 22 seasons, John DiBiaso, whose other head coaching stops along the way included St. Patrick’s High of Watertown and Weston High, where his team won the Division 6A Super Bowl championship in 1991.
The Hall of Fame ceremonies will take place April 27 at 5 p.m. at Lantana function hall in Randolph.
Country club gets a new owner, new name
The former Mount Pleasant Country Club in Boylston has been purchased by club member Regan Remillard and renamed The Haven Country Club. The club, which has hosted the New England PGA Pro-Pro Stroke Play Championship annually since 1976, is undergoing a multiyear renovation. It has also been the site for the Men’s and Women’s Massachusetts Opens. Its website is www.TheHavenCountryClub.com.
Here and there
Norfolk’s Peter MacIntyre, a sophomore forward at the University of Massachusetts Boston, has been named to the American Hockey Coaches Association Division 3 East Region All-American Team. MacIntyre, a second-team selection, helped lead the Beacons to 17 victories and finished the season fourth in the nation at 1.54 points per game. . . . The Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League have signed third-round draft pick Haley Brock. A forward, Brock starred at Acton-Boxborough Regional High and led the University of Maryland in scoring for three consecutive seasons. The Red Stars open their season April 19. . . . Ohio Wesleyan University junior Matt Hunter of Lexington earned All-American honors with his sixth-place finish in the heptathlon at the recent NCAA Division 3 Track and Field Championships at Nebraska Wesleyan University.Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.