When Jeremiah White took over as head coach of the Lower Merion SC Sabertooth Rats earlier this year, he knew he had a talented team.
But even he was surprised at the speed this group of U15 boys team went from a group of talented individuals to a state and regional power that tore through the Region 1 championships outscoring opponents 18-2.
"I’ve enjoyed seeing how hard they’ve worked to get here," said White, who was familiar with many of the players through the company he runs NXT Soccer when he took the reigns back in February. "Some of them have been playing together since they were in the U8s and U9s."
Some of those players, like Alex Kades and Evan Tracy have progressed from the club’s D team at the U10 level to being regular contributors at the top level in the club.
A former professional who last played with New England Revolution in 2012 and earned a cap for the U.S. national team in 2008, White went to nationals three times as a player for FC Delco in his youth soccer days.
"It’s an experience they will never forget," White said.
White will lead the Sabertooth Rats in their quest for a U15 championship in Frisco, Texas beginning next Tuesday with a match against Illinois club CFA Raiders. They play California club SC Sporting on July 27 and finish group A play with a match against Virginia club McLean on July 28. The games on July 26 and July 28 will be streamed live.
"It has been great to see these boys develop over the years," club president Biff Sturla said. "Both as soccer players and as young men."
Sturla, who coached White early in his playing days, credited the coach’s experience - his decade playing overseas, his time with the men’s national team and at Wake Forest - with helping get the team over the hump and in a position to capture a national title.
"LMSC is very proud of the coaches and the boys," Biff said. "They are a tremendous team on the field and also off the field."
Lower Merion SC won’t be the only club from the area playing for a national championship in the coming week.
Lehigh Valley United’s U19 team will be in Frisco and New Jersey clubs Jackson Red Bulls (U13 Boys Premier Group), Logan SC (U16 Boys Premier Group) and South Jersey Elite Barons (U16 Boys Super Group) will be competing in the U.S. Club Soccer finals in Aurora, Colorado beginning this Friday.