Area Soccer Team Looks To Overcome Traditional Barriers; Online Fundraising Effort Launched

Area Soccer Team Looks To Overcome Traditional Barriers; Online Fundraising Effort Launched

BERLIN — Getting noticed by college scouts and finding competitive tournaments remains a challenge for most of the top young high school athletes on the shore, but one locally-based team has been successful in breaking down the traditional barriers.

When Worcester Preparatory School teacher and River Soccer Club Director Allison Bescak moved to the area about six years ago, one thing she noticed was a lack of opportunity for some of the top young female soccer players on the shore to get the same exposure as the counterparts on the west of the Chesapeake. To that end, she started a College Showcase Team featuring some of the top young players on Delmarva from Berlin to Dover to Easton, which is competing at a high level throughout the region and is getting noticed for its team and individual accomplishments.

“When I came to the area, I found out soccer was just a little behind what I had been used to,” she said this week. “In order to get good competition, they had to go across the bridge to Baltimore or up to Philadelphia, for example. This group of young women has been playing since the fifth grade and they have been traveling almost every weekend for two or three hours each way for a one-hour game.”

The college showcase teams features some of the top female high school players from all over Delmarva. Bescak has pulled in several resources that have contributed to the success of the team, which emphasizes the quality of soccer on the field combined with fitness and nutrition, SAT preparation and the college recruiting and scholarship process.

For example, the team is coached by Worcester Prep boys’ varsity soccer coach Terry Underkoffler, who has been involved in the Olympic Development Program for over three decades. Also involved is Tony D’Antonio, who owns and operates the CoreFirst gym in the Salisbury area and is the director of college counseling and assistant headmaster at Worcester Prep.

Under Bescak’s direction, with Underkoffler’s impressive coaching resume and D’Antonio’s expertise in college preparedness and counseling, the local College Showcase Team is already achieving the desired results. The team won the prestigious Discovery Cup in Baltimore in October and has upcoming showcase tournaments in Williamsburg and Leesburg in Virginia next month. Later this spring, the team will head to Orlando for another major showcase tournament.

The players come from schools all over the area including here in Berlin at Worcester and Decatur. Also represented are Snow Hill and Pocomoke and players from high schools across the Eastern Shore along with Delaware and Virginia.

“These girls are the best of the best in the region, but they don’t always get noticed and they don’t always get to compete in tournaments their counterparts from other areas do, largely because of simple geography. Traveling to these tournaments every weekend takes a lot of time and a lot of money. We’ve been kind of a rag-tag bunch, kind of like the Bad News Bears, when we’ve gone up against some of the top programs in other areas, but the results speak for themselves. They’re getting noticed and they’re getting opportunities.”

The current team is made up of some of the top juniors in the area, all of whom compete for their own high school teams. In most cases, the players might have two or three high school games during the week, then hit the road with the college showcase team for a tournament every weekend.

The high school junior players on the team are currently at a critical juncture in their plans to take their careers to the next level in college. Bescak said another group is ready to step in and move the program forward.

“These girls are juniors this year and this is really their time to shine,” she said. “The college recruiting process seems like it gets started earlier and earlier and this is time these girls really have a chance to get noticed. After this group, we have another group of under-16 players ready to start their own showcase process.”

Of course, driving to tournaments, staying in hotels and eating healthy on the road every weekend is expensive, and Bescak has reached out to the local community to help fund the team’s efforts.

Several local businesses have contributed funds as have parents, and Bescak has recently started a Go Fund Me page to expand the team’s fundraising efforts. That can be viewed at She also has some fundraisers planned for the near future although the details are not yet finalized.