The Division III championships in Kansas City this weekend won't feature a team from the Philadelphia region for only the third time since 1998, but one team does have a number of local ties.
That team is Amherst, which has a former Union Academy goalkeeper, a brother of a current Academy player and two others who hail from the area.
Senior goalkeeper Thomas Bull spent time with the Union Academy back before it was a full-time Development Academy club and has enjoyed an incredible senior season for the 17-1-1 school unofficially known as the Lord Jeffs. The 6-foot-5, 215 pound keeper has kept shutouts 15 times this season and is one shy of 50 clean sheets for his career. His goals against average is 0.20, which equates to only four goals allowed all season.
Bull grew up in Montgomery, N.J. and played in the Development Academy for PDA, where he was noticed by the Union and brought in to train and compete with the team in the 2012-13 season.
Junior defender Justin Aoyama, of Narberth, is the older brother of current U-14 midfielder Jason Aoyama, who is second on the team with eight goals this season. The elder Aoyama has three assists in 17 games, all starts, on the year for Amherst.
Junior forward Christopher Martin, of Radnor, is second on the team in goals (10), assists (5) and points (25).
Senior midfielder Milton Rico, who played high school soccer at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, rounds out Amherst's core of Philadelphians. He has two goals and an assist in 15 games and 12 starts this season.
Amherst is making their third appearance in the Division III championships and first since Amherst. They are 0-2 in their two previous appearances in the final weekend of the season. They face SUNY Oneonta (19-3) at 6 p.m. Friday. Oneonta beat Haverford College last Sunday to advance to the semifinals for the third time in five years.
Loras and Calvin play in the other semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The championship will be played at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Games will be played at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Kansas, and streamed live on NCAA.com.