Competitive youth soccer all about hustle

If any girl on the Club Ohio Black U-9 soccer team is playing lackadaisically on the pitch, she can expect a trip to the sideline.

“I want them to play at a high level,” said Club Ohio coach Ryan Elliott, of Devola. “If they’re not hustling, I pull them out of the game and talk to them about it.

“They then get a drink, and I put them back in in a minute. They get another chance. But if they don’t hustle the second time, they’re out for the rest of the half.”

Elliott paused.

“I try to be fair, and praise them when they do good,” the coach continued. “They like that.

“I want them to play hard, though.”

Club Ohio Black U-9 played hard at the Devola Soccer Complex Sunday morning, blanking the Canal Winchester Pride, 4-0 in a semifinal. Avery Smith scored two goals, and Brylee Jones, and Emily Bailey each added one for the winners. Between the pipes, Emma Bauerbach and Smith were credited with a clean sheet.

“That was the best that I’ve ever seen them play,” Elliott said. “It’s a big deal for us, and I’m very happy.”

Club Ohio Black U-9 was one of 88 teams competing in the 23rd annual Marietta Soccer Classic in Devola, which kicked off Saturday and continued Sunday. There were teams from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and all over Ohio.

“It’s a big tournament, and it’s nice to have this many people in town,” said Elliott.

Club Ohio is affiliated with a club in Columbus, Elliott said.

“The nice thing about that is when you’re a part of Club Ohio, we help each other out with numbers,” the coach continued. “Some of our girls get a chance to go up to Columbus to play with them, and in this tournament, they have a couple of girls playing on our Green team.”

In Marietta, there’s both a Club Ohio Black U-9 and Club Ohio Green U-9.

“We started doing two teams last year,” he said, “to get more kids involved.”

On Elliott’s squad, there are nine on the roster. On Green, there’s eight.

At the U-9 level of competition, it’s six on six. At U-11, it’s eight vs. eight, and at U-13, 11 against 11.

“It’s all about developing their skills and stepping up the competition for them a little bit,” Elliott said. “It’s more about the kids than the coaching.”

Elliott said that Black had gone 1-1 on the first day of competition Saturday.

“You get to play at least three games in this tournament,” he said. “If you’re winning, it’s four.”

With Club Ohio Black’s semifinal triumph, it advanced to the final, where it dropped a 2-1 decision to Hurricane of W.Va. Smith scored the team’s lone goal.

Club Ohio Green also finished runner-up in the tourney. Win, lose or draw, though, it’s all about hustle to Elliott.

“They’re allowed to mess up on the field,” he said, “but they’ve got to play hard.”

Final “Classic” results were not available at press time.