St. Luke’s Athletic Trainer Helped Prepare Team to Win National Title

St. Luke’s Athletic Trainer Helped Prepare Team to Win National Title

With stellar play and key contributions from every player, the LVU 2000 Boys Black team created noise around the country in July by winning the McGuire Cup at the United States Youth Soccer (USYS) U19 National Championship in Overland Park, Kansas.

LVU defeated two-time defending champion Baltimore Celtic SC 1-0 in the championship game on Luke McMahon’s goal six minutes into overtime of the double overtime-mandated game.

“They played as a team, they peaked at the absolute right time,” said coach Mike Gorni, who along with LVU Director of Coaching Greg Ramos, also coached the 1993 LVU Boys to the McGuire Cup in 2013, the last time the national championships were held in Overland Park.

“There’s no question that on the final week of the season, at this event, this was the best team in the country at that particular time, and that’s when you want to be that,” Gorni said. “The boys really bought into everything from training to psychology, to getting proper sleep, nutrition and hydration.”

The LVU 2000s run to the title was truly one for the ages after they clinched an automatic regional spot into the championship week by virtue of winning their division in the U.S. Soccer National League.

 Injuries held the team success back somewhat early in the year, but that gave extra minutes and responsibilities to other players who had critical success at the national tournament. By the time championship week came around, everyone was back  and healthy, and St. Luke’s Athletic Trainer Mariangelie Balaguer was instrumental in keeping them that way.

“She attended almost all of their practices,” said Ramos.  “She made sure she was always there to give them treatment before and after practices and matches so that they were feeling their best. She gave them talks about hydration and the heat they would encounter in Kansas.”

“Just being able to have an athletic trainer who knows the kids and when they’re coming back from minor injuries or things more acute, having her there, being able to talk to the players, helped us as a team,” Gorni said. “It’s an unquestionable benefit that not a lot of clubs have.”

The East Region placed four of its teams into the national tournament, and Gorni said LVU drew the “Group of Death” with neighboring Lower Merion, Kingdom SC Red of Michigan, FC Golden State White of California, and two-time returning champion Baltimore Celtic,.

LVU kicked it off with a 3-0 win over Golden State and then shocked Baltimore 2-0 to clinch a spot in the semifinals. That allowed weary or injured players to rest in 4-3 loss to Kingdom SC. LV beat Lower Merion 3-1 in the semis, and then, after a scoreless regulation against Baltimore Celtic in the championship game, netted the game-winner six minutes in, holding off Baltimore for  27 minutes after three minutes of extra time were added to the final 15-minute overtime period.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we got to experience twice,” said Ramos, who did not attend the championships this year but watched them as they were streamed live on the internet.

“You’ve got to have the ability, the talent, the coaching and all of the soccer pieces, but then the stars have to align,” Ramos said. “You have to get lucky, do the right things at the right time. At that level of play, every team, is a great team, every team has superstar players. You just have to have the ball bounce your way.”

LVU had the ball bounce its way when Ramos convinced Gorni to join the club years ago after they worked together at the ODP level when he and his dad, Lou, were forming LVU.

“I convinced Mike to come over to LVU to lend a hand, and it was one of my greatest accomplishments in developing our staff,” he said.

Throughout their time with the club the LVU 2000s have been coached by Sid Forrest, Ramos, Dean Koski and Gorni.

The LVU 2000 Boys Black team has established an LVU legacy by winning the club its second McGuire Cup in six years.

Which team will be next?