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The Butler Did It: HS soccer showcase a great seat

First it was three consecutive 360-degree turns that burned three defenders - a move right out of the FIFA 2005 video game. Then the Molloy junior threaded a perfect no-look pass that a teammate deposited in the goal.Without the structure and pressure associated with a high school or club team game, Leis was having fun at the New York City CHSAA Junior Showcase, the first of what will be an annual event to highlight the league's top juniors for college coaches.And perhaps no one raised their stock more than Leis, who one Division I coach called "the best player on the field.""I see it on TV and I tried to do my best, it was the perfect game to try it out," Mora said of his hot-dogging. "If it works, it works, but if it doesn't, no one is going to be yelling at me afterwards."There were plenty of college coaches on hand to watch Leis, Mora and the 43 other players from 17 of the league's 25 teams.They wore numbers ranging from 2 to 70 and played four, 45-minute halves. It was the CHSAA soccer's version of the ABCD Camp without the sleaziness. And the sponsorships. And the lack of defense.Head coaches from St. John's, St. Francis, Holy Cross, Long Island University, St. Peter's and Adelphi were among the coaches from 18 different schools who were present at Belson Stadium Monday. Each coach paid $5 admission and received a yellow, stapled printout on each player, his phone number, address, e-mail address and high school."(The CHSAA has) a basketball showcase, a baseball showcase but there's never been a soccer showcase," said St. Francis College coach Carlo Acquista, who played at Holy Cross High School before earning a scholarship at St. John's. "I have to give the credit to Andy Kostel and Paul Gilvary. They're committed to soccer...I think it's a great thing that they're doing for the CHSAA."The event was the brainchild of Molloy coach Andy Kostel, who wanted to give the league's players a chance at some exposure without the politics associated with club soccer."They were very happy this was being run in the spring. The venue always helps, St. John's is a great place to see a game," Kostel said about the college coaches. "The ability for them to come in the spring when things are not as rushed, every coach is appreciative of that."Another player who impressed was Oscar Garcia, a talented - but virtually unknown - defender from St. John's Prep, a CHSAA 'B' division school."Coaches might think that because we're in the 'B' division that it would be a waste of time and they don't come out (to league games)," Garcia said. "But this is good because they can see there's different type of talent in 'A' and 'B' division and just because you're in the 'B' division doesn't mean there's not talented players."By all indications, Kostel's experiment was a success. Although that will only be known if these players receive some type of correspondence from the coaches. And if one player who might not normally get recognition received a scholarship, then Kostel did his job.I applaud Kostel and the CHSAA for giving 45 of its juniors a window of opportunity they likely wouldn't have had before. It would be great if the Catholic league and the PSAL would partner up and have some sort of joint showcase, or even have a doubleheader of sorts so soccer players from across the city could showcase their skills in front of even more college coaches.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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