Connellsville players capture 3v3 titles in Florida
Some Connellsville-area children are making a statement among soccer players around the nation.
Recently, in a trip to the 3v3 national championship tournaments in Florida, siblings Tatum, 10, and Jacob Gretz, 9, along with Seth Basinger, 9, had major success.
The Gretz children have been playing soccer since they were 5 years old. Along with the local recreation and travel leagues, in the past three years, they've gotten involved with the 3v3 program. The program features three players on each team competing without goalies.
“The kids basically play soccer all year around,” their dad, Tom Gretz, said. “They're on different teams throughout the year, and they've been involved in the 3v3 for awhile. It's a high-scoring, fast-paced game.”
The siblings' teams made it to the regional tournament in York this past fall, and both did well enough to be invited to the national tournament in Florida.
The boys team is Norte Unidos 05 made up of Jacob Gretz, Basinger, Ben Feinstein, Ryan Hanes and Auders Borday, and the girls team is Norte Unidos 04 made up of Tatum Gretz, Malia Kearns and Emmy and Abby Veychek.
Basinger, the son of Derek Basinger, is from Connellsville and has been playing soccer for five years.
Derek Basinger said his son played in the 2012 3v3 tournament in York when Norte Unidos approached him about joining their team.
Seth Basinger joined the team this past year, and before that he played for a team from Arkansas (Arkansas Elite) at the national tournament in Florida in 2012.
They took first place in the open silver division.
On Jan. 17, both teams helped comprise the 750 teams from across the United States that competed in a three-day tournament at the ESPN Complex in Disney.
At the end of it, Norte Unidos 05 won the tournament's invitational gold division, and Norte Unidos 04 won the tournament's invitational silver division.
“They worked really hard for this,” Tom Gretz said. “It's very competitive — I mean you don't fly down if you have a bad team — so I knew it would be a challenge. I didn't know they would win it, but that's always the goal we strive for.”
Derek Basinger said his hope was for his son's team to place in the top four.
“The team they beat was No. 1 for the last two years,” he said.
On Feb. 22-23, the boys team will be playing in Ohio for a national indoor championship tournament.
To add another feather in the cap of success already for Tatum, she recently won the local and regional competitions for the Elks soccer shootout competition.
Tom Gretz said the shootout competition has individuals shooting soccer balls into a regular-sized net. The individual with the most points advances. Tatum will head to Frederick, Md., in March to paticipate in the Mid-Atlantic regionals.
Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.