Coach Wayne Sanchez has his newly formed Maryland Alliance soccer squad doing a lot of footwork lately, and not all of it is limited to the playing field.
Most recently, the feet of his under-19 team members have been pounding the pavement in their neighborhoods, selling doughnuts to raise money for their upcoming trip to Amsterdam to compete in the Holland Cup tournament.
"Most of us have been doing it for the past three months," said Jamie Cornett, 17, who will be a senior at Severna Park High this coming fall. "It's going to cost $1,350 each, and most of us are paying for the whole trip."
Steve Marsella, 17, who will be a senior at St. Mary's, said, "It's going to be a great experience. I can't wait tobe exposed to European soccer. Coach isn't putting too much pressureon us about trying to win the tournament. He just wants us to get past the first few rounds. But just being over there with some of the best players in Anne Arundel County is great in itself."
The Alliance was created by Sanchez and Severna Park resident Bill Reilly solely to participate in the 600-team, July 26-Aug. 5 tournament.
In addition to Cornett and Marsella, team members are Todd Swann, Tom Reilly, Pat Mohr and Mike Wist of Archbishop Spalding; Ryan Voegltin and John Denman of Severna Park; Justin Dunbar and J.D. Gattie of St. Mary's; Brian Lawson and Rich Pavlok of Baltimore's Mount St. Joseph; and Juan Espinoza of Bowie High in Prince George's County.
The team has been together for three weeks, having beenformed shortly after the completion of the U.S. Youth Soccer Association's season and the State Cup tournaments in early June.
Last year was Sanchez' final season as head coach of the girls Under-14 Severna Park Power. To take on the Alliance, he passed on the Power to Tom Ehart, who recently merged that squad with members of the girls Under-19 Green Hornets to form the Under-19 Severna Park Alliance.
Most of the Maryland Alliance players previously had played for either the Under-19 Pumas' indoor team or the Severna Park Green Hornets' outdoors.
"I'm not intostealing or recruiting players from other teams. That's why we waited for their league seasons to end," said Sanchez, 26, an English major at Anne Arundel Community College.
Bill Reilly helped select themembers and is in charge of coordinating the trip. His son, Tom, plays for the Alliance.
Still, it is Sanchez' reputation in soccer circles that has made the task of holding the team together easier.
He completed his first season as the head coach of Archbishop Spalding's varsity girls team last fall. Before Spalding, Sanchez, a 1982 Severna Park graduate and former All-County player, was an assistant togirls soccer coach Joyce Stefancik at his alma mater.
"After our first couple of practices, we knew what he wanted from us," said Wist, 17, who will be a senior at Spalding this fall. "By the end of the first few practices, everyone was comfortable, and now we're startingto put all of the talent together."
Wist said "the turning point"in the team's development was a scrimmage against Bethesda's two-time, under-19 State Cup champion team Sunday.
The Alliance battled to a 0-0 draw against a Bethesda squad that finished third in last year's USYSA national tournament and left yesterday for Amherst, Mass., to defend its regional title.
"By the time we went to play Bethesda, we were looking forward to a good challenge," said Wist.
Said Cornett: "Everyone was saying how great (Bethesda) was, but I just wanted to play with them and I knew that we could. We stayed right with them and came away pretty happy."
Now the Alliance is turning its attention across the Atlantic Ocean toward Europe.
"The Bethesda game was a big boost for us," said Marsella. "The only other foreign team I've played against was the Canadians. I remember they were very physical. They kind of got fed up with us Americans because we were physical, too. Neither team would back down, so there were some fights."
Sanchez is hoping the Alliance has the right kind of intensity in Amsterdam, and at least returns with a more solid foundation of soccer skills.
"I think everyone's happy with this team," said Sanchez. "We're playing high-quality soccer, and it's a good warm-up for the high school seasons."