Last fall, the Central Carroll Dynamo took first place in the Baltimore Beltway Soccer League's under-15 Boys Division. This fall, the kids are going for a repeat as under-15 champs.
The Central Carroll Soccer Club squad is undefeated at 4-0-1. That ties it for first on points with Harford Kicks Synergy. Each team has 13, however Synergy has a loss. Dynamo has three games remaining, two with the last-place team. Coach Jim Altomonte thinks his boys have a good chance to win that second consecutive crown.
Altomonte actually shares head coaching duties with Nick Lewis. Lewis brought some players over from the Westminster Soccer Association last year because there weren't enough boys of their age to form a team there. However, they seem to have blended in very well with those in Central Carroll.
Dynamo has kept some of the same players over the years. Seven go back as far as 2010, and two were there when the team began in 2007. They were just a bunch of little guys back then, maybe 7 years old, playing in the Central Carroll in-house rec soccer program.
But Altomonte said even then, a lot of those little guys were special.
He said, "They were a strong group of kids, and a lot of them wanted to do more."
So, after a couple of years playing in the rec program, the group decided to try the travel leagues.
"In 2011, we started to play [travel], and it was a struggle at that level. We were up and down. In 2012, we really started improving. In 2013, we started playing tournaments and winning," Altomonte recounted.
Among their trophies that year was a first-placer in a Harford County summer tourney and runner-ups in both Fallston and Gettysburg. That fall, Dynamo finished second in the Central Maryland Soccer League.
In 2014, that collection of trophies got bigger. In winter 2014, the Carroll kids took first in a Four Seasons indoor soccer league. In spring 2014, they finished second in the BBSL. Last fall, they won the Central Maryland Soccer League under-15 bracket, giving up only two goals the whole season.
There was only one new player in this year's Dynamo roster of 22.
His players are scattered during the week on high school soccer teams throughout Carroll County. Some even play in Baltimore County. But when they get together on weekends, they know each other well. This allows them to play as a unit when they get back together. That, Altomonte explains, is the key to their success.
"We would play [opponents] with talented kids, but we played team soccer because we'd played together for so long. They might have a player who is the best in the state, but we'll beat it every time because soccer is a team sport," Altomonte said.
His team got off to a 4-0 start before tying Synergy. It has given up five goals this year, but three came in the opening game which Dynamo ultimately pulled out, 4-3. Since then, it has yielded only two goals in its four games.
"Defense has always been our strength. That's because we have a lot of our core kids back there," Altomonte explained.
On offense, the team has some explosiveness.
"We have a lot of our speed up front. In fact, we have one of the fastest kids in the state there," he said.
The coach said his team can vary its offense, making it hard to defend against. The players can use different styles of attack, varying from a deliberate, short passing game to a more rapid-fire style. And, it can switch styles with no warning.
Altomonte feels that Dynamo can win out through the rest of the schedule. If that happens, it clinches first place for the second consecutive season regardless of what Synergy does because of the Harford squad's earlier loss.
Perhaps a key to winning those remaining games is maintaining a healthy roster. He has already lost one top player to an injury, and Altomonte doesn't want to lose more.
But Altomonte also said the team's depth and ability to play as a unit could carry it through even if there are more injuries.
"If we have enough players to play, it doesn't matter which ones are out there. It will be a strong unit," he said.
Of course, it is hard to keep a team together once the players hit high school. Demands created by their school teams, studies, jobs and social activities tend to pull those teams, regardless of sport, apart. That doesn't worry Altomonte though.
"As long as these kids want to come out on the field, we will always be there to support them."
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