May 3—Soccer in Huntsville has been on the up-and-up as of late and the course of the weekend was no different.
Huntsville's FC Eclipse competed in the South Texas Cup where the girls u16 squad placed second and the 14U boys team placed first. However, this is something that didn't happen overnight for these programs.
"When we form a new team, I always tell them 'don't give up on it, give it a year' it takes a year before everything starts clicking," HVYSA director of competitive soccer and 14U head coach Wes McMillan said. "That's exactly what these teams have seen this weekend. The way these teams have grown together has been remarkable in just one year."
Last season, McMillan's squad saw themselves at the same event looking forward to what would happen. His squad would not win a game in the event but would get the experience of playing on the stage.
That wasn't the case this time around.
The boys 14U team would get two wins and a draw in the event tying them with Eagle Pass Youth.
To get to the title, Eclipse FC would get through Lone Star by a score of 4-1. Dynamo South Orange 5-0, and in their final game would tie Eagle pass at three. With both Huntsville and Eagle Pass having a 2-0-1 record, Eclipse FC would claim the championship from goals scored with 12.
"I've been doing this for a while and one thing I know about a Huntsville soccer team, the team that is in front of them will know they got out of a rough soccer game," McMillan said. "These teams play with all their heart and they leave it all on the field every time. I'm glad to be a part of that. Our kids are humble and they give me 100% this weekend. I couldn't be prouder of them."
While the boys' team would bring back the gold trophy, the girls' team would finish second. The girls' team would turn around from their season where they went 1-11-1 to playing in the same event.
On their path to second place, the girls' U16 team dropped their first game to the eventual champions in Texas Premier 1-2. They followed up that performance with back-to-back 3-0 wins, one against Lee County and one against Aspire FC AFC.
"I'm so proud of these girls, we came a long way," Ortiz said. "To go from a 1-11-1 team to have a chance to compete for this cup... I'm just happy about that. I can see the way the girls were happy and they were calling each other family. For them to say that meant a lot. It was a blessing and an honor to coach these girls. I'm looking forward to it growing."
As both of these teams have seen success, so has the program.
One major thing that McMillan pointed out was having players return to help out on the pitch and share their knowledge. That's exactly what happened.
The Eclipse program saw three former players return to help coach. Christopher Macias, Edgar Nava and Chris Frias all played for the Eclipse but have since graduated out but continue to keep their presence on the club.
"Three of my old players from the 2001 team came back to help me coach this team," McMillan said. "They came back to give back to the program that gave them so much. For them to have the commitment they had at their age you don't find it all the time."
With all the recent success, Huntsville Eclipse has continued to grow and they don't see an end in sight. With another season just around the corner, they will be hosting a try-out for boys born between 2007 and 2013 and girls born between 2005 and 2011.
The tryouts will be on May 10 and May 12 at Kate Barr Ross park starting at 6 p.m. on those days.
"There are definitely eyebrows being raised about what's going on in Huntsville," McMillan said. "When you take two teams to an event and they place well, it highlights what's going on in the program. With the teams doing well, we hope to attract some players."