Congratulations to the RVA FC for their huge win over Sonoma County SOL in the National Premier Soccer League Championship.
Update #1 — August 5, 2013; 7:41 AM
On Sunday, RVA FC defeated Sonoma County SOL 2-0 to remain undefeated and win the National Premier Soccer League Championship. RVA FC took the lead, 1-0, in the 18th minute with a goal from Josh Grant and never trailed. Manel Bel tacked on a final goal in the 88th minute to safely put the game away for RVA FC.
RVA FC has already qualified for next year’s US Open Cup–a tournament spanning many levels of American pro and amateur soccer. The Richmond Kickers, members of the USL Professional Division, qualified for this year’s tournament and reached the third round where they fell to DC United on penalty kicks. DC United will play the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, August 7th in the semifinals.
Check out photos from this weekend’s huge win over on RVA FC’s Facebook page.
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Original — August 02, 2013
The undefeated RVA FC, Richmond’s newest soccer team, will take on the equally undefeated Sonoma County SOL in the National Premier Soccer League Championship (NPSL) this Sunday evening at Sports Backers Stadium.
“There’s just a huge base of talent here,” said RVA FC’s coach, Grover Gibson, about the region’s soccer ability. “We’ve been fortunate to put everything we’ve hoped for right into place.”
Gibson is a Virginia native who played soccer in the Fußball-Bundesliga division in Germany before an eye injury forced his retirement. He returned to Virginia and created the Grover Gibson Soccer Foundation.
“I realized there’s this huge niche for these top level [college and high school players]”, Gibson said. Last year, he began asking local college coaches if they’d support a local team comprised of their players. They gave Gibson their blessings.
Last September, the NPSL awarded Gibson an expansion team. “We started signing our first players in January,” he said.
RVA FC differs from the Richmond Kickers in that the RVA FC is neither a professional nor semi-pro team. Players on RVA FC typically come from college teams in the area (VCU, UVA, JMU, etc.) to play during the college off-season. RVA FC is the highest level of amateur league in which players can compete without losing NCAA eligibility.
“We’re not only college-based players, we can also have pros or ex-pros,” Gibson said. However, just as with the college players who participate, no player on RVA FC receives payment for playing.1 “My goal is to really have the top players that will eventually be drafted,” Gibson said.
In it’s first year, RVA FC (9-0-2) went undefeated through the regular season. Because RVA FC is a volunteer organization–no players, coaches, or administrative personnel receive payment–the club had no formal marketing campaign to advertise itself, or even the help of a sponsor. “We went out on a limb to try and do it all on our own,” Gibson said.2
Despite this, the coach said that an average of 1,200-1,500 fans attended all RVA FC home games at Sports Backers Stadium. “I think getting 1,200-1,500 per game is a very impressive number for the situation that we have,” he said.
Their young fan base has enthusiastically embraced Richmond’s newest team. “It’s buzzing. We’ve got people jumping up and down. People waving flags,” Gibson said about the home crowd. “There’s an exciting, electric atmosphere at Sports Backers Stadium.”
Some of that enthusiasm may have been absorbed by the players. After finishing the regular season undefeated, they’ve cruised through the NPSL playoffs. After defeating the Erie Admirals 4-0 on July 28th, the team earned its way the championship game against Sonoma County this Sunday at Sports Backers Stadium.
The team’s success has surpassed Gibson’s expectations. “My major goal was to qualify for the US Open Cup,” he said, speaking about the annual tournament that’s open to both amateur and professional teams. Earning first place in their region during the regular season guaranteed RVA FC a spot in next year’s competition.
But the team hasn’t lost its competitive edge. “You definitely don’t stop there,” Gibson said. Both he and his players aren’t content with just qualifying for the US Open Cup or just being in Sunday’s championship game. They want to win it all.
RVA FC hosts Sonoma County SOL on Sunday, August 4th at 7:00 PM at Sports Backers Stadium. Tickets are $10, children 5 and under are admitted free.
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Photo courtesy of Suz Kitsteiner