BRADFORD — The 2019 NY/PA Corporate Cup Soccer Showcase is set for Saturday, May 18, and the Tri-County Area will have its largest presence to date in the event with 23 local players hitting the pitch at Pitt Bradford’s Kessel Athletic Complex
The Corporate Cup pits players from New York and Pennsylvania against each other annually as a way to showcase some of the top talent on the soccer field from both states.
The showcase is different from most season-ending senior all-stars games most area fans are familiar with like the Lezzer Lumber Football Classic, Frank Varischetti All-Star Football Game and the Sportsmanship I District 9 All-Star basketball games.
Those events are for seniors only under PIAA rules because they are promoted as “All-Star games.” However, the Corporate Cup Showcase features players in grades 9-12 — something allowed under PIAA rules because interested players go through a three-part tryout process to be selected for the game and also do not directly represent their school or wear any school-issued uniform or apparel.
The showcase, now in its third of existence, started out as just a boys game back in 2017 with just three area players (2 Elk County Catholic, 1 Ridgway) taking the field.
A girls game was added last year as the event, and the area players come from, continues to grow. DuBois and St. Marys players where added the event’s draw area last year with 15 area competitors (8 boys, 7 girls) suiting up between the two games.
Brockway and DuBois Central Catholic players were made eligible as part of the 28-school area this year’s the showcase. Their presence has pushed the local contingent to nearly two dozen players as Pennsylvania looks to capture its first victory in the event. New York won the inaugural boys game 1-0 and pulled out a 2-1 victory last year. New York also won the first girls game last year 4-1.
Two area coaches hope to end the drought for Pennsylvania in year No. 3. Rich Esposito, who recently retired as Brockway’s head coach, will lead the PA boys squad, while veteran Ridgway coach Greg Maddalena was chosen to guide the PA girls.
Esposito will be assisted by Mike Puhala (Brockway), Matt Erickson (DuBois), T.J. Weaver (ECC) and Denny Flatt (Warren). Their 22 member-squad features 10 players from the Tri-County Area.
DuBois Central Catholic has three players in the game in seniors Tyler McIntosh, Zach Edwards and Jon Schoeneman. St. Marys also had three in seniors C.J. McGowan and Coby Novak and sophomore Vinicius Nunes.
McGowan also made last year’s Pennsylvania squad for the event.
The Brockway senior duo of Zane Puhala and Jake Anderson will also hit the pitch at Pitt-Bradford at May 18 along with DuBois freshman Kylen Duran and ECC junior Gabe Kear. Duran is the lone freshman boy to make the showcase for either Pennsylvania or New York.
The remainder of the boys team consists of Bradford senior Jason French and juniors Mathew Franz, Ian Grady, Evan Schmidt and Ryan Miller; Kane junior Mason Feikls, Northern Potter senior Foster Kosa; Port Allegany-Smethport junior Shawn McNeil; Couderport junior Jonathan Barroqueiro and Warren junior Caleb Lindell.
On the girls’ side, Maddalena will be assisted DeAnna Kelley (Ridgway), Jessica Leadbetter (Brockway), David Britten (Brockway) and Warren Shaw (Bradford).
Brockway and St. Marys lead the local contingent with four players each on the 22-member squad. Lady Rover juniors Chanell Britten, Morrigan Decker, Mackenzie Overbeck and Kayla Jamison will all suit up for PA, as will Lady Dutch juniors Lauren Eckert, Kaylee Muccio and Britney Shaw and sophomore Kyla Johnson.
DuBois freshman Stefanie Hoyt and Rylee Wadding made the squad, as did ECC junior Olivia Sorg and Ridgway seniors Lindsey Kocjancic and Jordan Bundy.
Eckert, Muccio, Johnson and Sorg also made last year’s Pennsylvania squad. Sorg was named Pennsylvania’s MVP for the game, while Eckert scored the lone goal in a 4-1 loss.
Also playing for Pennsylvania this year are Bradford senior Mikayla Bond, junior Regan Johnson, sophomores Chloe Shaw and Mackenzie Lucas and freshmen Lauren Placer and Emily Prince; Kane junior Victoria Halberg; Port Allegany-Smethport senior Samantha Tanner and Warren sophomore Kyleigh Wilson.
The girls game is set for 1 p.m. on May 18, with the boys contest starting at 4 p.m.