Under-17 soccer league a kick Debut season draws 85 players


The newest soccer hero in Carroll County never scored a goal or played a game.

Her name is Linda Silfee and her claim to fame is the founding of a five-team Carroll County under-17 recreation soccer league that provides fun and competition, especially for those eager to hone their skills for varsity or junior varsity play.

The 85-player league has two teams from Deer Park, one from Westminster, one from North Carroll and one from Reisterstown. All games are played on Sundays.

The first games were played Sept. 26 and were the culmination of a two-year dream for Silfee.

"I got goose bumps when some of the parents came up to me at one of our first games and were so profusely appreciative of my getting the league started," said Silfee, a Westminster resident. "My biggest thrill is seeing the boys out there playing."

Before Silfee put this recreation league together, there wasn't a strongly organized league for youngsters cut from high school varsity or junior varsity squads.

"The number of boys trying out for soccer teams in the county has increased over the past years while the number of spots available has not," said Silfee, who is the league's age-group coordinator. "The ones who don't make those teams now have a place to play."

Bob Winters, coach of the Deer Park Green team, which leads the league with a 3-0 record, said: "This is your proverbial sixth man on a basketball team league. Most of these players were victims of final cuts and were almost good enough to make it. They gain their decency and respect back by playing in this league."

Jim Silfee, son of the league founder and a Westminster High sophomore, is a member of Deer Park Green.

"It's a place for me to play," he said. "It's nice to be unbeaten, and, hopefully, I'll make the varsity soccer team at Westminster next season."

The male and female players range in age from 14 to 17. Only two girls are in the league, Winters said.

"All the players are serious about the game," he said. "The league will only get stronger as the word spreads about us. I'm sure there must be some players in the Freedom area who would like to play. I understand there were 32 cuts from the Liberty and South Carroll soccer teams. Hopefully, next year we'll have a team from Freedom."

The only requirement to compete this season is that a player not be involved with a junior varsity or varsity soccer team.

But Silfee said the rules probably will be tightened next year to exclude players who are ineligible for their high school teams or have been removed from a team for some reason.

Before this venture, Silfee was basically a typical soccer parent working in the concession stand to help raise money for the Deer Park recreation soccer league.

Now Silfee is taking bows.

"Linda has worked real hard to make this a five-team league this year," Winters said. "We tried to get it going last season but couldn't get enough teams."

Jamie Eybs, a Westminster High junior who plans to play on the varsity next season, is one of the more gifted players in the league. He plays for Westminster.

"I couldn't get to one game before halftime because of my work," he said. "But I still played the second half and scored two goals."

The Carroll County Recreation and Parks sponsors the league in cooperation with recreation councils from Deer Park, North Carroll, Westminster and Reisterstown.

In addition to Winters, other league coaches are Ronnie Schinault (Deer Park Gold), Don Garmer (North Carroll), Burke Suter (Westminster) and Deni Dorsey (Reisterstown).

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