The Butler Did It: A historic Saturday on Long Island

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No, I wasn’t at Belmont watching my favorite jockey Edgar Prado ruin Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid, sending 120,000 into the streets of...

In what was one of the best sports weekends of the year, I was on Long Island witnessing a bit of sporting history.

No, I wasn’t at Belmont watching my favorite jockey Edgar Prado ruin Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown bid, sending 120,000 into the streets of Elmont and Queens Village upset.

I was at Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview witnessing a truly remarkable bit of youth soccer history. It was there, nearly on the Suffolk border, where Ridgewood-based Blau-Weiss Gottschee became the first boys’ club in New York state to win four state cup titles.

The organization, which was founded by German immigrants in 1952, had already made history before any of its players kicked a ball Saturday by sending a record five teams into the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s Open Cup.

To truly appreciate how remarkable a feat this was, you have to understand what the Open Cup is. It’s a competition between clubs throughout the state in age groups that range from U-10 to U-19. Qualifications begin in September and culminate with the state cup finals, which this year were played in Plainview.

To get one team there is a great achievement. But to send five? That’s unheard of.

“I would have been very satisfied with two out of five. Even to just get five teams in is a tremendous accomplish­ment,” said Ben Boehm, Gottschee’s youth soccer coordinator. “It really shows the dedication of the coaches and the kids.”

I arrived at Soccer Park Sunday morning and saw the end of Gottschee’s U-11 game against Bayport. Dozens of parents packed the sidelines, most of whom screamed words of encouragement as Gottschee Celest was comfortably ahead.

Thanks to modern-day technology, I overheard a parent’s cell-phone conversation that Gottschee’s U-15 team was heading into overtime at Field 1. That would be my next stop.

Just as the final whistle blew, the skies opened and rain poured onto the team’s celebration.

But few seemed to care. Parents and players hugged as the team not only celebrated the state cup title but also the fact they were heading to Paris — all expenses paid — to compete in the Danone’s Nations Cup, an international youth competition in September patterned after the World Cup.

Former U.S. National team player and MetroStars fan favorite Tab Ramos was also on hand to witness one-fourth of Gottschee’s remarkable achievement.

Gottschee’s U-10 team had already defeated Rye Phoenix, 3-1, and the U-12s came from behind to beat the Dix Hills Rugrats, 3-2, in overtime by the time I finished my interview with U-11 coach Miguel Brunengo.

I walked across to Field 1 just in time to see Oscar Leis’ double-overtime golden goal winner, lifting Gottschee’s U-15 team over F.C. Westchester.

Leis’ goal, a beautifully placed shot from the top-right corner of the box, capped Gottschee’s perfect day.

As was the case on the other three fields, Gottschee’s U-15 victory was not only witnessed by parents and friends but also by other Gottschee players. It was a rare show of support in today’s age of egocentric athletics.

I returned to Soccer Park Sunday to see if Gottschee’s U-16 team could complete the sweep on the same field the U-15s celebrated a day earlier.

But like my boys Prado and Birdstone upsetting Smarty Jones, David Price played the part of spoiler as he coached the New Rochelle Raiders to a 3-0 win.

The disappointment, although understandable, was a bit tempered. After all, despite the loss, Gottschee still achieved something no other boys’ team had done before.

And I can say I was there.

Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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