Peter Brown has a simple goal when he and the rest of the Havelock Force under 18 soccer team go up to Washington to play a D.C. United academy team.
"Don’t look like fools," he joked.
The Havelock team recently won the ACC Hall of Champions Showcase in Greensboro, and part of the reward was the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to play the Major League Soccer D.C. United academy team. The academy team features the top players in Maryland and Virginia and is designed to prepare them for college scholarships or play in professional leagues.
The team Havelock will face has two players from the junior national team.
"I’ve heard things about them," Brown said. "It’s going to be a hard game."
Brown is one of the captains of the Havelock Force, along with Ryan Fox.
"The team’s going to be really good, but I don’t have any expectations," Fox said. "I just hope we go up there and play hard and give it our all."
The match is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Saturday at RFK Stadium in Washington. After the match, the team will get a chance to watch D.C. United play Toronto.
Brown said Havelock was in the championship match against Powhatan (Va.) in Greensboro, knowing that a victory would mean a trip to Washington to play in the exhibition.
"We fell behind 1-0, then scored and fell behind again but evened it up," he said. "In the last 10 seconds, we scored to win it."
The victory set off quite a celebration.
"When we won, I was stoked," Fox said.
Danny Verduzco, who coaches the team with his brother Pablo, said the goal of the trip is to show the players another level of competition.
"There’s no trophy. There’s no reward other than having a good time and having the experience," he said. "Not a lot of people when you’re 16 or 17 years old can say they played a D.C. United team, even if it’s an academy team.
"A lot of big-city teams, Raleigh or Wilmington, they don’t get offers to do this. It’s a pretty big deal. We’re pretty excited, and the boys are pretty excited as well."
He said he hoped the players learn from the experience.
"I think it’s going to open their eyes to elite soccer," he said. "They’ll see what they can improve. It will open their eyes and make them see that if they want to play on a college level or professional level that it’s a whole different game."
Pablo Verduzco said he hoped the match continues to build the reputation of Havelock and the Havelock Youth Soccer Association as a quality place for soccer. So far this spring, the Fury is 6-0-1, having also won the Wrangler/McDonald tournament.
"Hopefully, we can develop a relationship between Havelock soccer and D.C. United," he said. "And who knows, maybe they’ll see one of these players and like one of these players and invite them up there. They can get some exposure in different places and different teams and show they can play soccer."
Members of the team are Fox, Brown, Zach Martin, Tucker Mentink, Sean Gorman, Nicolaus Seegel, Roy "R.J." Howard, Justin Temple, Tyler Gares, Drew Hardison, Lamberto "Beto" Gomez, Justin Kilgore, Ricardo "Ricky" Garcia, Dylan Baker, Joe Andrews, Adrian Young, Noah Kemble and Kevin Quinn.