Huge Turn Out for San Diego’s Newest NPSL Team
The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) San Diego’s Albion SC Pros kicked off their 2016 season in the West Region’s Southwest Conference against Real San Jose on March 5th at Mission Bay High School in front of a huge turn out. Today they take on Chula Vista at 5 PM. While the NPSL South West Conference officially kicks off the first week of April and these pre-season games do not count towards the NPSL regular standings, the matches are great soccer entertainment.
More than 2,000 soccer fans watched as San Diego’s Albion Pros earned their first victory against an NPSL team — on the opening day of their season. Albion Pros defeated Real San Jose with a final score of 1-0. The excitement of the single goal scored — after the 80th minute — was felt throughout the stadium by players, coaches and fans alike. While Albion dominated possession of the ball, there were several attempts during the match to find the back of the net which were unsuccessful.
Led by an excellent performance by Albion Pros’ goalkeeper Jean Antoine who blocked every shot that came his way, the team emerged successful in their NPSL debut. With a strong defense and an aggressive offense, the score could have been a easy 3-0 by halftime but everyone in Mission Bay stadium was kept in suspense until the last few minutes of the match to see the final verdict.
Towards the end of the second half, as the referee awarded San Jose a penalty shot, a hush came over the stadium — which erupted into a volcanic sound wave of cheering once the shot was blocked by Antoine. What followed was the dramatic climax to the score frozen match – First, Captain Luke Staats flew down the left of the field and crossed the ball — but the attempt went high and did not score. David Luque seized the opportunity following and and passed the ball to Felipe Luborio who scored a majestic goal with a strong strike which rolled across the grass into the back of the net.
The entire Albion Pros team followed Luborio as he ran across the field to the stands to leap up in celebration — greeted with the glory of adoring fans.
Head Coach Ziggy Korytoski and assistant coach Andre Schmid were proud of their team’s efforts. “Behind the scenes, there was a lot of work and Noah’s vision of a professional soccer culture was visible on opening day,” said Korytoski. “The atmosphere was electric and the support from the soccer fans in San Diego has been incredible. It goes to show how hungry San Diego is to be a part of winning soccer.”
“Everything about the NPSL home opener was first class and the win was terrific. We were in control for the majority of the match and built up the game — I am thankful for Antoine’s massive save from the penalty and ultimately, good fortune was on our side,” said Korytoski.
“Albion Pros players have been preparing for the NPSL season since January. The players practice rotation to 5 days a week and this is a professional soccer culture. There is so much competition for the starting lineup, and this is a good problem for any coach to have. I know that we will see a rotation in the line up with a lot of players trying to get into starting positions,” said Korytoski. “There is a lot of buy-in and the overall, the players’ commitment to the Albion Pros is very high. I have coached around the world and am very proud to be coaching these players.”
NPSL opening day ceremonies rarely have the pizzaz and excitement of the game ball being delivered by a skydiver … but this is exactly what San Diego soccer fans enjoyed right before the kick off of the Albion Pros first home game.
“It was a fabulous launch to the NPSL season,” said Noah Gins, Albion Pros Executive Director and General Manager. “It was exciting to watch the team perform on the field and to see the crowds of fans in the stadium.”
Joe Barone, NPSL Commissioner, was impressed with the professional opening game presentation and the very strong turn out. “The pictures of the Albion Pros home opener were amazing, congratulations to Albion and to San Diego,” texted Barone on opening night.
Fans were treated to the spectacular sight descending from the sky — stunt diver Matt Blanket wearing the new Albion Pros jersey and proudly displaying the G-Force sponsorship, delivered the match ball from 30,000 feet, glided gently into the stadium and thrilled the fans, young and old alike.
The NPSL is a national league that operates in the 4th Division of the U.S. Soccer pyramid. NPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup through their affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The NPSL remains one of the largest national leagues in North America.
Related Article: SAN DIEGO’S ALBION PROS JOIN THE NPSL