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A LETTER OF THANKS FROM BJ
Never in my wildest dreams did I think back in 2003 that I would be coaching the same youth team in 2016.  Celeste hesitatingly nominated me to coach after the first season because I enjoyed coaching my sister’s team with my father.  And it was that philosophy that I wanted to bring to United.  But there were some differences between coaching a CASL team and a team in a much smaller league, and one big difference was Celeste.  She emphasized making it feel like family from day one, and making the boys feel special, and ultimately, that’s why United made it as long as it did.

Those of you who have known me long enough know that my main goal has always been chemistry.  It’s not having the best players, but having players that filled a roll.  Especially in our outdoor years, for every Nico, Zach and Colin there was another player who may have only scored a single goal, but they all had a role.  On the field, seeing those players improve was very gratifying.  Off the field, seeing each of them feel equally as important was equally as gratifying.

Keeping the team together was very difficult.  In larger leagues the recreation teams stayed together as they aged out.  That wasn’t the case with the smaller leagues.  Why didn’t we go challenge?  First, those weaker players probably wouldn’t have been able to make the transition and the whole point was to keep the team together, and second, I never thought that we were good enough to play challenge on a regular basis.  It was about having fun, giving the recreational player a chance to do a little something more. Doing that proved challenging and it was because of us that a lot of rules were created at various leagues along the way.  I won’t get into that now other than to say that there were many administrative challenges and stresses throughout the years.

Was all of that worth it?  I’ll answer that by giving my three most memorable moments of our run together, and you’ll be surprised that only one of those moments took place on the field.  First, there was our first State Games gold medal.  That was supposed to be the end and we were going out on top.  That was six years ago!  Second was at the end of last year’s last indoor game.  The horn had sounded and the players on the field, Patrick, Zach, Ethan, Nico, Martin and Colin, converged and gave a group hug.  There is a picture of that in last year’s archives.  And the third was on Friday night.  Brock and Logan came to the game just to watch.  And they weren’t even members of this year’s squad.  And several other former players emailed to say that they couldn’t come but thanks and good luck.  Watching some players tear up while they were watching the videos between games, and a group hug between Celeste, Colin and me after the others had left.  Yes, it was worth it.  Soccer was the thing that brought us all together but the lasting memories, for me at least, were from off of the field.

Thank you to our coaches.  Over the years, in order, Bob von  Sprecken, April and Brian Hoffman, George Attarian, Carlos Gutierrez, George Bournazian and this season, Zach.  And of course Celeste.  Thanks to everyone over the years who has taken pictures and video.  The Krolls, Johnsons, Gutierrez and McCullers families and Scott Sheflin, who hated when I handed him the camera.  And thanks to Scott for being the United team doctor.

For the parents, thank you for making it all happen.  Your support through the years has been amazing.  For the players, thank you for giving me your best.  I hope that you had fun, and as you go on through life, you think back on some of the experiences that we’ve had. Bobbing for apples.  The sleepovers.  Playing at RFK stadium.  The countless pools and hotels along the way. And maybe one day you’ll coach your child’s team and start the process all over again. If you do, soak it up.  13 years goes by very quickly.  And if you do, let me know and I’ll come watch a game!  Thank you again.  One last time, play hard.  Have fun.  United.

WHERE THEY’RE GOING:  WHERE THE UNITED PLAYERS ARE GOING TO COLLEGE Note:  not all are confirmed yet as some are still waiting on the acceptance letters.
Gabe:  UNC Wilmington
Jake:  Fuquay-Varina
Colin:  Holly Springs
Martin:  ECU/Charlotte
Chris:  Wake Tech/Armed Forces
Alec:  Holly Springs
Sara:  Holly Springs
Zach:  Wake Tech
Hunter:  UNC Wilmington
Ethan:  Charlotte
Carlos:  Holly Springs
Nico:  Wake Tech
Logan:  NC State
Patrick:  ECU
Stephen: Coastal Carolina
Sam:  NC State
Brock:  Charlotte

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The final team picture:  L-> R:  Alec Droegemeier, Jake Amey, Sara Droegemeier, Hunter Hurst, Ethan Sheflin, Martin benitez, Brock Waters, Nico Gutierrez, Carlos Gutierrez, Logan Harris, Gabe Amey, Chris Brown, Patrick Hoffman, Colin Attarian, BJ Attarian. Not pictured:  Zach Gault, Stephen Pratt, Sam Sanger.

UNITED TOPS GLORY GOALZ, FALLS TO FUTBOL UNITED KICKERS ON FINAL NIGHT OF GAMES
United entered the final night of playing soccer as a team with a chance to grab third place Friday night but fell just short, pulling away from Glory Goalz but losing to Green Hope’s Futbol United Kickers by a goal in the nightcap.

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Goal:  Gabe Amey (on ground) gets the ball toward Nico Gutierrez and the goal.

The game against the Glory Goalz was close through halftime.  Season scoring leader Gabe Amey started the scoring when he was fed by season assist leader Martin Benitez.  Glory Goalz answered to tie the game before Amey scored again, this time off of a pass from Nico Gutierrez.  Nico scored immediately after to give United the 3-1 lead before Glory Goalz scored.  Logan Harris fed Chris Brown for United’s fourth goal but the teams kept exchanging goals.  After Glory Goalz scored again, Nico scored his second unassisted goal of the night.

Glory Goalz scored again before the United offense exploded.  Two goals from Hurst, with assists from Nico Gutierrez and Benitez, followed by a pair of goals by Gabe Amey, both with assists from Colin Attarian, an unassisted goal by Ethan Sheflin, a goal by Jake Amey off of a Hurst pass and a goal by Attarian off of a Benitez pass all occurred before the Glory Goalz scored their next and final goal.  After that, United went back on offense, this time when Attarian fed Benitez for a goal and Brock Waters set up Sheflin for his second of the night and final of the game.  United won 14-5, separating itself from the Soccer Starz in a race for third place because the Starz lost their match earlier in the night.

With third place in sight, United faced a much more difficult task in the Futbol United Kickers.  In a physical game the Kickers struck first before Benitez fed Gutierrez for the equalizer.  Gabe Amey took a pass from brother Jake to put United up.  Nico scored on a blooper from beyond midfield and United was up 3-1 at halftime.

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Time to say goodbye:  United players leaving the field for the last time, falling to the Kickers 6-5 in the team’s final game.

The Kickers scored the first two after halftime to tie the game before Hunter Hurst scored off of an Ethan Sheflin pass. The Kickers scored two more to take the lead.  Brock Waters brought United back to within one .  Alec Droegemeier had two attempts right in front of the goal and Colin Attarian had a back heel shot but the Kicker keeper was up to the challenge, stopping those and a barrage of shots during the game, to preserve the win.

On the night, United’s defense was strong.  Led by Patrick Hoffman in net, Sara Droegemeier, Sheflin, Brown, Harris and Jake Amey, the defense slowed a potent Kickers attack.

The game ended with Colin, Logan and Patrick, three of the original eight team members to take the field on August 22,2003, along with long-time teammates Ethan, Nico and Chris Brown, pushing for the equalizer but falling just short.

Nico entered the night trailing Zach Gault for United’s all-time goals total and, with the

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Lightning Line:  Colin, Zach and Nico combined for 494 of United’s goals.

goals he scored Friday, tied him.  Each finished with 182 all-time United goals.  Nico’s biggest offensive performance came back at U12 when he scored 27 in a season.  At U8, Zach scored more goal

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Include Ethan’s and it brings the total to 615 while Patrick worked to keep opponents out of the net.  Seen here is 2009:  L-> R:  Patrick, Zach, Ethan, Nico, Colin.

s in a season then the combined goal total of all of United’s opponents, including the playoffs.  And in that season, Colin Attarian, United’s third all-time leading scorer (130) and all-time assist leader, did the same thing.  Ethan Sheflin is fourth (121) and Gabe Amey, in just three seasons, is fifth with 45.

This season’s roster had a combined 74 years experience of playing soccer for United, which finishes 5-3 on the season and, more impressively, 179-70-14-1 overall in the team’s 13-year run.

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United Parent Squad:  the engine that made it all happen.

REMEMBER THE LAST TIME IT WAS “THE END”?
United moves toward its final game in team history, but this is the second time that that has happened.  In 2010 United was competing as part of the Holly Springs Futbol Club, a league that only had divisions through under 12.  The team had jumped from Holly Springs Parks and Recreation to the Triangle Y Soccer Club and ultimately HSFC, and was not planning to move again.  So when United entered into its second State Games of North Carolina tournament, it was understood that the team would disband after competition.

Watch the videos leading up to the last “END” here!

Read about the 2010 season here!

Surprise.  United won the gold medal and nobody wanted it to end, so the team jumped indoors and played for another six years!  Until tonight, and this time is different.  Most of the team graduates and moves on to colleges, and we’ve run out of youth leagues in which to play.

WHERE THEY STAND: WHAT UNITED NEEDS TO DO TO FINISH IN THIRD
It will be an emotional night as United competes in its final two games since the team made its debut on August 22, 2003, but points are also at stake.  United can finish as high as third place in the league.  Trump FC currently sits in third place with six wins, two losses and 18 points.  Trump’s season is complete.  United and Soccer Starz are tied for fourth at 4 wins, two losses and 12 points.  Both teams have two games to play, all four games on Friday night.  If both teams win, the first tiebreaker is goal differential.  The Soccer Starz’ goal differential is 20 while United’s is 18, meaning that it might come down to the last moments of both team’s games to determine what team finishes where.

Interestingly, in a league with 12 teams, four team’s seasons are complete and six teams only have one game remaining.  The only two teams that have a chance to clime to third are the two teams with two games remaining:  the Soccer Starz and United.

A look back at some memorable United moments in video.  There are plenty more videos in the United TV section!  The top video is a timeline of United’s current players and when they joined the team.

HOW TIME GOES BY:  WHEN DID UNITED’S CURRENT MEMBERS JOIN THE TEAM?
United moves cScreen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.15.54 PMloser to its final games with several players having been on the team for several years.  What years did they join?  Look at the list below to find out.

Gabe Amey (2014), Jake Amey (2016), Colin Attarian  (2003), Martin Benitez (2007), Chris Brown (2010), Alec Droegemeier (2014), Sara Droegemeier (2016), Zach Gault (2005), Carlos Gutierrez (2015), Nico Gutierrez  (2006), Patrick Hoffman (2003), Hunter Hurst (2016),
Stephen Pratt (2007), Ethan Sheflin (2006), Brock Waters (2010).

UNITED OVERPOWERS CDFC TO MOVE INTO TIE FOR FOURTH
United started the day in a four-way tie for fifth place with CDFC, Futbol United Kickers and Glory Goalz and squared off with FC Cary’s CDFC Friday night.  United, down both Gutierrez brothers, Chris Brown and Sam Sanger, overwhelmed CDFC, scoring seven goals before CDFC scored and 14 goals overall, on its way to a 14-2 victory.

Hunter Hurst lead the way, starting the scoring when he took an Ethan Sheflin pass early in the match, and then converting five other goals on the evening.  Hurst scored two from Sheflin, two from Alec Droegemeier, one from Stephen Pratt and an unassisted header off of a rebound to close out his scoring.

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Ethan Sheflin engages the opponent as Patrick Hoffman and Stephen Pratt stand at the ready. Stephen played in his last United game on Friday.

Team scoring leader Gabe Amey had a quiet night on the score sheet, scoring only one goal, but dishing up a pretty assist to Pratt for a goal.  Martin Benitez scored off of an Alec Droegemeier pass. Alec scored when he received a pass from Colin Attarian before CDFC scored its second goal.

Ethan Sheflin, coming off a head surgery, was his usual self, anchoring the defense with Sara Droegemeier and Jake Amey, and scoring off of a Jake Amey pass.

Stephen Pratt also had an impact on the scoring end.  Pratt, playing in his final United game, scored the game’s second goal off of a pass from Gabe Amey and then scored two of the final three goals in the game.  The first came off of a pass from Martin Benitez and the second, the final goal of the game and the final goal of Pratt’s United career, was unassisted.  Pratt joined United after playing against United on the rival Bandits in 2005.  During those early seasons United and the Bandits each won league championships.  Pratt has been with United through two State Games gold medals, including one where he broke his leg in the final minutes of the game, and finishes this season with five goals and three assists.

United heads into the final week of play as one of two teams with two games to play while four teams have already completed their seasons.  United is tied for fourth with the Soccer Starz and the Futbol United Kickers and, should it win out, can finish as high as third place.  The first of two games next Friday is against Glory Goalz at 7:20 followed by a game against the Futbol United Kickers at 9.

UNITED DOWNS CONCERNED PARENTS WITH STRONG PERFORMANCE
A night after scoring 13 goals against Gimme Yo shirt, goals were substantially more difficult to come by against Concerned Parents, but United played one of the better games of the season in the 3-1 victory.

Ethan Sheflin started the scoring when he took a Colin Attarian pass and converted.  United doubled the lead when team scoring leader Gabe Amey converted a Sheflin pass.  Concerned Parents cut the lead in half and that was where the scoring stayed until late in the game when Jake Amey took a Sam Sanger pass and put the game out of reach.

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Chris Brown moves in for a shot during a recent match.

It wasn’t for lack of trying at both ends of the field.  Stephen Pratt, Brock Waters, Alec Droegemeier, Amey and Attarian peppered the Concerned Parents net all night but couldn’t convert.  Defensively, Sara Droegemeier, Carlos Gutierrez, Gabe Amey, Sanger and Sheflin were strong in front of Patrick Hoffman, who made many strong and key saves.

The win moves United into a three-way tie for fifth with nine points.  United is tied with Glory Goalz and the Football United Kickers, but has a game at hand on both of those teams.  United has played at least one fewer game than any other team in the league, and will face off against CDFC on Friday.

GOALS GALORE!  UNITED GETS PAST GIMME YO SHIRT, FACES CONCERNED PARENTS SATURDAY NIGHT
More than six weeks into the season United had only played three games, so the remaining third of the season figured to be very busy.  That busy schedule started Friday night as United faced Gimmie Yo Shirt.
United team leading scorer Gabe Amey started off the scoring when he took a Martin Benitez pass for a goal.  The Shirts tied it before Benitez converted off of an Ethan Sheflin pass.
Colin Attarian started to round into form when he converted on a penalty kick, continuing his mark of scoring at least one goal in every United season, and had an assist later in the game.  Attarian also missed a second penalty kick attempt.
Gabe scored again, this time off of a Sam Sanger pass, before dumping a pass to Hunter Hurst, back for only his second game, for a goal.  Gabe then scored an unassisted goal.Alec Droegemeier scored his first goal of the season off of a Stephen Pratt assist.  Pratt then scored when Benitez crossed the ball off of the wall.  Gabe Amey scored again, this time when Alec fed him on a breakaway.
Hurst then scored a pair of goals, one on a breakaway down the left side of the field and one off an Alec pass.  Pratt scored his final goal off of another Alec pass before Colin Attarian fed the ball to defender Carlos Gutierrez for his first goal of the season and the final goal of the night.
United goalies Patrick Hoffman, Jake Amey and Sam Sanger slowed down the Shirt scoring, along with defenders Sara Droegemeier, Sanger, Gutierrez and Ethan Sheflin.
United players are starting to round into form.  Attarian has been the team assist leader for several seasons but has been under the weather.  Alec has been the team leading scorer in past seasons but finally had a breakout game, scoring but also dishing off three assists.
United did all of this scoring without Nico Gutierrez or Chris Brown.  The team will be down both of those players again Saturday when it faces Concerned Parents in a game that has been postponed due to weather twice.
United moves to 2 and 2 with six points in the league, but still has played the fewest games.  A victory Saturday would move the team into a tie for fourth.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  UNITED’S GAME ON 2/19 HAS BEEN CANCELED AND WILL BE RESCHEDULED.  MORE INFORMATION AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.

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All in the Family – Jake Amey (L), Carlos Gutierrez and Sara Droegemeier all have older siblings on United and all made impacts in United’s Season Opener.

UNITED DOWNS WARRIORS TO START SEASON
United started its 13th year with a 9-5 victory over the CASL Warriors Friday at NetSports.
2015’s leading scorer picked up right where he left off as Gabe Amey scored the team’s first two goals, both assisted by long-time United player Martin Benitez.  Another old-timer, Nico Gutierrez, started his 2016 campaign when he took a ball from Sara Droegemeier and ran the field before scoring.  The Warriors struck back, ultimately taking the lead before Ethan Sheflin scored off of an Amey pass.  Amey got his hat trick immediately before halftime when Benitez passed to Alec Droegemeier, who set Amey up before the half.

The Warriors scored what would be their final goal right after halftime but had  chance to take the lead on a power play that the United defense, led by Sheflin, Chris Brown, Sara Droegemeier and Carlos Gutierrez, killed off.  United was down goalie Patrick Hoffman and played goalie by committee in the first half before finding a goaltending gem in Jake Amey, Gabe’s brother and United’s youngest player.  Amey finished out the Warriors,  and the game in net.

Offensively, United kept scoring.  Gutierrez scored again off of a pass from long-time teammate Colin Attarian.  Newcomer Hunter Hurst took over from there, scoring the final three goals, off of Benitez and Sheflin assists, to close out the Warriors.

United is 1-0 on the season, moving to 27-4-1 all-time against CASL teams and 172-65 and 12 all-time since 2003.  United faces the Soccer Starz on February 5th.

UNITED BACK IN ACTION!
United takes the field for the first time since March 13th when it faces the CASL Warriors to start the winter two season at Netsports in Cary.  United is the last team to start the season as all other teams in the league have played at least one game.

United brings a strong team to the field this season including three of its top scorers.  Scoring leader Gabe Amey is back, as is runner up Alec Droegenmeier.  United should see plenty of offense, as Nico Gutierrez, Martin Benitez and team assist leader Colin Attarian all are back.  The defense will once again be led by Ethan Sheflin, Carlos Gutierrez, Stephen Pratt and Chris Brown and Patrick Hoffman returns in net.

New faces, albeit familiar faces, will also join the team for the first time.  Gabe’s brother Jake and Alec’s sister Sara join the team.   The addition of Jake and Sara, along with Nico and Carlos, makes three groups of siblings playing on United.  United also adds Hunter Hurst for additional offense.

United loses goalie RJ Reyes, Taj Salman, who tied Droegenmeier for second in scoring last year, as well as long-time players Sam Sanger and Brock Waters, who may see limited action this season.

The CASL Warriors lost their first game 10-4 to the Soccer Starz.  The two teams have never faced each other.  United is 26-4-1 all-time against CASL teams, although the team will be entering tonight’s match without goalie Patrick Hoffman and with an injured Colin Attarian.

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