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2016 Southern Conference Championship Preview

07/19/2016, 12:45pm EDT
By PDL Staff

Energy U23, The Villages SC, Sockers FC, Surf meet up at Taft Stadium

Following an impressive campaign and double-digit wins, the OKC Energy U23 will host the Southern Conference Championship at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Friday and Saturday.

The Energy U23, The Villages SC and the South Florida Surf are all new to the PDL, competing in their first seasons. Midland/Odessa Sockers FC will be competing in the Conference Semifinals for a second consecutive year.

Sockers FC will play The Villages SC in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, while the Energy host the Surf at 9 p.m. ET. The final will take place at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. All games will be played at Taft Stadium, home of the USL’s OKC Energy FC.

OKC Energy U23

Record: 10-3-1 (1st in the Mid South Division)

Head Coach: Chris Spendlove

Top Performers: Noah Keats scored a team-high 13 goals during the regular season, and he also led the team in assists with three. The University of the Incarnate Word’s Ben Conway scored four goals and assisted one. St. Edwards University’s Josh Taylor, ranked ninth in the fourth edition 2016 PDL Top Prospects list, scored three and assisted two goals. Austen Parker, Michael Nelson and Kyle Morton split goalkeeping responsibilities during the regular season. Morton started the team’s last game of the season against Sockers FC, making five saves in the 2-1 win.

History: The Energy U23 are competing in their first season in the PDL.

The Villages SC

Record: 9-3-2 (1st in the Southeast Division)

Head Coach: Anderson DaSilva

Top Performers: Carlos Araujo led the team in goals and assists, scoring 11 and providing four assists in 14 games during the regular season. In total, 11 different players scored at least one goal during the season. Augusto Maciel netted five, Carlos Vitor Alvarenga scored four and William Pereira and Pedro Ivo Dias recorded three each. Paulo Pita made 12 appearances during the regular season, earning six shutouts and a 0.75 goals against average.

History: Located in The Villages, Florida, the PDL team was awarded a franchise in January. The Villages SC began as a youth club in 2008, providing competitive and recreational soccer to youth players in the area. 

Midland/Odessa Sockers FC

Record: 8-3-3 (2nd in the Mid South Division)

Head Coach: Matt Barnes

Top Performers: Bruno Henrique led the team with seven goals in 13 games during the regular season, including two in a playoff-clinching win against the Energy U23 on Friday. Jade Mesias and Nenad Markovic have each scored three goals, while Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s Fernando Machado netted two goals. Texas A&M International University goalkeeper Salomon Moctezuma played 10 games during the regular season, recording five shutouts while making 32 saves.

History: Sockers FC played its first PDL season in 2009, finishing second in the Mid South Division. Currently the only PDL franchise in Texas, Sockers FC has earned two playoff appearances, most recently reaching the Southern Conference Championship semifinals in 2015. In the 2015 PDL Playoffs, Sockers FC fell, 1-0, to Ocala Stampede in Clinton, Mississippi.

South Florida Surf

Record: 8-2-4 (2nd in the Southeast Division)

Head Coach: Peter Fuller

Top Performers: Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Lucas Coutinho, ranked sixth in the latest PDL Top Prospects, led the team in assists with five, while also scoring three goals in 13 games. Ethan Decker and Jorge Guinovart, ranked 20th in the latest PDL Top Prospects, combined for four goals and seven assists during the regular season. In total, 15 different players scored a goal for the Surf. Benjamin Martinez and Andres Ruiz split goalkeeping duties during the season, with the latter recording four shutouts and a 0.86 goals against average.

History: Competing in their first season, the Surf were revealed as a new franchise in January. Playing in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the club is led by the leadership group of Nick Matteo, Peter Fuller and Eric Arbuzow.

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