Tampa Bay Rowdies
LOL Soccer Team Wins National Title
LAND O' LAKES - At least for the time being, Land O' Lakes is Titletown. In amateur men's soccer, that is. The Florida Kickers, a team based in Land O' Lakes, captured the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association Cup men's championship with a 3-1 win over a team from Baltimore this month. While not known as a hotbed of soccer like some communities across the country, this is the sixth national championship the team has won since it was established in 1958. For Coach Steve Gagos, this is the fourth national title the team has won since he became involved with the team as a player/coach in 1997."I first joined the team to stay in shape," Gagos said. "But now, I can't play. But I can coach." The Land O' Lakes organization first won a national soccer title in 1967, when it captured the over-30 crown. It took 22 years before the organization won the Open Cup of the United States in 1989. But national success became a bit more frequent thereafter. In 1991, the Kickers won the national Amateur Cup. Fifteen years later the Kickers again won the over-30 national title. The team was originally known as the St. Petersburg Kickers before moving operations to Land O' Lakes. The organization includes two soccer teams totaling 42 players and coaches. The squad that won the Open Cup consisted of 22 players To win the national title this summer, the Kickers had to qualify from a field of state teams to advance to a regional tournament. Once the Kickers won the regional tournament, it was off to a national semifinal playoff. Goals by Chris Hastings and Ryan Stewart against Baltimore proved to be enough for the Kickers to capture the national championship. Kristopher Raad sealed the victory for the Kickers with a goal in the 82nd minute.