Soccer Showcase Organizers remaining optimistic

By Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic area fans did not get the opportunity to take in the Corporate Cup Soccer All-Star Showcase at the University of Pitt-Bradford (UPB) field Sunday afternoon. Organizers of the event remain optimistic the girls and boys all-star games will still be held this summer.
The games pit all-stars from Pennsylvania against New York stars. Unlike the Big 30 Charities Classic football game where Pennsylvania and New York graduated seniors square-off the Corporate Cup Soccer Showcases includes both seniors and underclassmen.
“Right now we're thinking either July or early August for a makeup day. We’re getting all the players their kits and all the other stuff we have for them. Were about three-quarters done with that and we’re still putting together the game-day program. We’re still doing some behind the scenes work and I think it’s looking good, considering McKean County in the Pennsylvania area is in yellow. That’s a good indication that things are getting better,” said game co-founder Kris Linderman of the Olean Soccer Club.
This year’s girls’ roster includes Elk County Catholic senior Olivia Sorg (pictured) who played in last year’s contest as did Junior Kayla Johnson and seniors Lauren Eckert, and Britney Shaw of St. Marys. Kane senior Victoria Hallberg who also played last year is listed as a second alternate on the 2020 squad. Kaylee Muccio of the Lady Dutch is also on this year’s PA roster. On the boys' side, Kane senior Mason Feikls makes a second appearance as will St. Marys’ junior Vinicius Nunes.
The girls’ team will be led by Bradford Head coach Warren Shaw. His staff includes Samantha Zimmerman of St. Marys, Bradford assistants Jim Warnick and A.J. Lucas, and David Britten of Brockway, and Jeremy Bickling of Warren. Elk County Catholic Head coach TJ Weaver will guide the Keystone State boys. He will be joined by ECC assistant Alex O’Neil, Jack Darling of Warren, Aaron Clark of Port Allegany-Smethport, Phil Esposito of Brockway, and Warren’s Denny Flatt.
Linderman who is a co-founder of the event along with Dave Talbot said he has stayed in touch with the Showcase participants.
“I’ve been emailing coaches and players at least once a week to let them know what’s going on, what we’re planning on doing, and what our status is. A lot of the players are kind of depressed. [Sunday] was supposed to be game day. I’m trying to stay positive and reassure them that we aren’t giving up hope. I want them to keep practicing and training on their own so that when the time comes we’re good to go,” he said while also discussing UPB. “[They’re] staying in contact with us. Originally we were looking to play in June and now that’s probably not going to happen but there are dates open in July and August where if we got the green light we could use their field.”
The Soccer Showcase began in 2017 with a just a boys game. New York won the opening match 1-0, won 2-1 in 2018, and 4-2 last season. The girls began play in 2018. New York won the first match 4-1 and the Keystone State girls won 1-0 last year. Ridgway Head Coach Greg Maddelina led the team last year along with Lady Elker assistant Deanna Kelley.
While media day for the event has been canceled Linderman says things could get rolling quickly once the states give the go-ahead.
“Really if we got the green light and there was a small window of opportunity we could have everybody play the next weekend. At the same time, we do want to get practices in so it’s going to depend on how big a window we have to operate. We really can’t go past the middle of August. Our window of opportunity would be July 1 to Aug. 10. It seems like we’re headed in the right direction. My hope is that in two or four weeks the situation will be much better,” he said.
While hopes are high for the all-star games Linderman who is also involved with the Olean Soccer Club knows it might not be possible for his and other clubs to have a recreation season.
“I was talking to Steve Talbot about our summer recreation league and how it’s probably not going to happen. One of the major factors was that those who attend a lot of games are grandparents. That’s [a group] that is susceptible to the current Corona situation. There are just too many unknowns that make it difficult to plan anything but it does seem like things are getting better especially if you look back a month ago when things were really bad,” he said.
The Showcase co-founder noted that area businesses could still help out with sponsorships for the game.
“Sponsors have been tough due to the current situation. We’ve invested some of our own money in this. It’s kind of ‘Catch-22 - we want businesses in but at the same time we don’t want to go out there and ask them. It’s not a good atmosphere to do that.” Interested parties can contact Linderman via email – rslinderman@verizon.net
Fans can stay upp-to-date on the games and events on the Facebook page – Mazza-the-Corporate Cup.

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