Local soccer 7v7 league gives outlet to high school soccer players with no fall season

2+7v7+Games+play+at+Utica+Park.

Collin Grover

2 7v7 Games play at Utica Park.

by Collin Grover, Reporter

The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/ccmn8

Frederick County soccer teams have started the SALSA (School Area League for Soccer Athletes) league. The SALSA league is a 7v7 soccer league for Frederick County soccer players from local high schools. 

The league is unofficial, and certainly not at the same competitive level as the  high school league. It is very unorganized, as teams do not wear jerseys; they can wear jewelry; and they don’t need shin pads. 

Regular seasons were cancelled due to the possible spread of COVID-19. The SALSA league does take some precautions, which are that spectators must wear masks while in the stands and are recommended to social distance. Players must wear masks while walking into the park and while leaving the park. However, players do not need to play with masks unlike other unofficial leagues popping up around the nation.

“I don’t mind them,” said Matt Vallone.

Since the league is not technically affiliated with high school athletics, the coaches of the teams cannot be anyone from the actual high school team coaching staff. However, the coaches can spread the word about the league, and have players’ parents to volunteer as coaches for the SALSA league. 

 The half field length games are taking place in Utica Park, with one full sized field serving two 7 a side competitions.  The field is made of synthetic turf, which feels extremely nice to play on. The only problem with the fields is that there are not necessarily actual out of bounds lines due to games being played on a half sized field. This causes a lot of confusion during the game over whether or not the ball was actually out, or if it was out who was it out on. Another common mistake is players dribbling the ball several yards out of bounds, because they think they are still in bounds.

Since the league is unofficial, there is much less competitiveness. For example, when a player takes a shot and it goes way over the goal, the first reaction is not to be angry, or yell at them, it’s to laugh and joke, but then get serious and try not to do it again. It is not all fun and games by any means, but it is much more casual which has its pros and cons. 

Luciano Benenati, an official for the SALSA league said, “Refereeing the league is very similar to other years, besides the lack of official-ness. Also the fact that there is only 7 per team.” 

Luciano said, “It is often similar to that of a regular high school league, but sprinkled in there is a bit of joking around, and in today’s case, roughhousing. Today’s game got pretty out of hand, but that isn’t very common.” Luciano is referring to the constant disagreements.

The SALSA league is very important to players such as Will Jordan. “I was very super disappointed when I found out about the fall season because I had worked so hard and it almost felt like a waste of time.” 

However, Sam Curley and others feel that it fills the void of a fall season. “The league’s fun but it doesn’t make up for the season being cancelled since it’s only one night a week.”

The lack of high school sports this fall did not affect just players, it even affected referees. Referees have a love of their sport just as the players do, and for many it is a routine / fun activity. Luciano said,  “I have been reffing for over 15 years, and it is an activity that I love to do, and so when I was offered to be an official for this league, I was happy to do so.”