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Seacoast United Soccer Club

Columbus Day Invitational is Highlight of NH Club's Tournament Calendar

As one of the leading soccer clubs in New England, Seacoast United Soccer Club is well known for the competitive level of its teams. But it is also known for the quality of its tournaments. Throughout the year, the organization runs several tournaments out of its indoor facility in Hampton, NH, its outdoor field complex in Epping, NH, and other area facilities, as well. For Matt Sprague, the club's director of coaching on the girls' side, the highlight of them all is the annual Columbus Day Invitational.

“This is essentially going to be the tournament we hang our hat on. It is for U11-U14 teams and we use two venues, one for boys and one for girls. The girls event is held at Berwick Academy and the boys are at our facility in Epping.”

In fact, it is the quality of facilities, along with the level of competition, that Sprague thinks sets the tournament apart on what is a very crowded weekend for soccer tournaments. At this point, Seacoast isn't looking for the tournament to be a 250- to 300-team event, looking for more like 100 to 120 high-quality teams. The tournament is offered in 8v8 for format for U11s, 8v8 or 11v11 for U12s, and 11v11 for U13s and U14s.

“We've been running it for six years and had some good teams, but we're really making a big push and have already gotten some commitments from high level teams that we think will help the event kick off well this year.”

When the tournament first began, Seacoast was regularly fielding interest from teams from many states. The recession slowed that trend, but Sprague thinks some of that interest is coming back, making this a good option for teams throughout the Mid-Atlantic. He also thinks Seacoast needs to maximize the local New England region in terms of team representation.

Seacoast IUnited Soccer Club

Ultimately, what makes the tournament standout is the facilities and potential for quality matches. The Seacoast complex in Epping has four FieldTurf fields, three with lights. If needed, the tournament could run from the early morning hours until 10:00 PM at night. The facility also has a full service snack shack and other amenities. As for Berwick Academy, it has one FieldTurf Field and six grass fields that are elevated to ensure optimum drainage in case of inclement weather.

As for competition, Seacoast's association with US Soccer's Development Academy and the New England Premiership means many quality teams are likely to attend in all age groups for both boys and girls. In addition, Seacoast's own teams have a long history of being competitive, which in and of itself is a draw.

“All of our tournaments are played in a friendly atmosphere focused on player and team development and not simply getting W's,” said Sprague. “We've had support from US Soccer in backing this type of tournament, where everything comes down to providing an environment where competition is high level for teams and the fields are high quality. In that respect, in six years of running tournaments we've never cancelled a game.”

For those teams travelling from great distances, Sprague works with AB Sports Zone, a company that handles hotel accommodations and reservations for all tournaments hosted by Seacoast United Soccer Club. That relationship is important because AB Sports Zone negotiates favorable rates during what is a busy tourist weekend in New England.

Ideally, Sprague is looking to get 12 teams in each age group with three brackets of commensurate abilities. That way, every team that participates in the tournament will experience three quality games and come away saying the tournament was worth it and well run with good accommodations, facilities and amenities. “That will create a buzz around the tournament as we look to expand it in the future,” concluded Sprague.

Click the link for more information about this year’s Seacost United Columbus Day Invitational

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