The Kingston Stockade FC’s inaugural roster is brimming with local talent, featuring players who’ve grown up in the area, and played for local high school and college teams. But even some local players have roots much further afield.
Matel Anasta, a 22-year-old who has a history of playing nearly everywhere on the soccer pitch except perhaps goal, grew up in Catskill. One of a handful of players to make the preliminary roster from a pair of heavily attended open tryouts last month, Anasta is working on his Masters’ in international business at Marist College, after a double-major as an undergrad in economics and finance. Catskill wasn’t much of a soccer town, Anasta said, especially as he spent the first six years of his life in Haiti.
“I’ve played soccer ever since I could walk,” he said. “It’s like a religion back where I’m from. When I first moved here, as far as finding people to play with, I usually couldn’t find anybody. It was me and a ball in my backyard.”
Michael Creswick, 27, also grew up surrounded by soccer, though he didn’t arrive in the United States until last June. Creswick grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a city in northeast England. He trained with Newcastle United Academy and Sunderland AFC Academy before playing for the senior squad in all three years at York St. John University.
“It’s just part of the lifestyle,” said Creswick, a striker and midfielder who carried his love of the beautiful game with him to Australia a few years ago, where he played on a team primarily comprised of players from England and Scotland. It was in Australia where Creswick met his wife, who grew up in the Hudson Valley.
Anasta and Creswick followed a surprisingly similar trajectory in soccer before Stockade FC gave them each an opportunity to play closer to home. Anasta was in the New York Cosmos youth development program, and last winter he flew to Florida and made the cut on a couple of National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) teams. Creswick, who lives in Montgomery, also had tryouts in Florida late last year. Last December, Stockade FC officially joined the NPSL and opened for business in the Hudson Valley, and payers like Anasta and Creswick were able to stay closer to home.
“We looked at potentially moving so I could play,” said Creswick. “We were trying to decide where to go, and all of a sudden I saw on Facebook that Kingston Stockade had just been founded in the area. We kind of saw that as a bit of a blessing.”
Creswick hit the pitch during one of Stockade FC’s early invite-only tryouts, though unlike many of the players at the closed tryouts earlier this year he wasn’t initially known to Coach George Vizvary or the club’s assistant coaches or scouts.
“I basically contacted the club back in December and kind of told them my credentials and that I was really interested, and if I was potentially offered a place on the team then I would definitely be staying in the area,” Creswick said. It was a bold move, but an ultimately sound one: Creswick scored the first ever Stockade FC goal with a header off a Matt Koziol free kick in a friendly against Albany FC at Dietz Stadium on Wednesday, April 6.
Anasta got the early word about the club from a friend in the media, registering as soon as open tryouts were announced in March. If not for the open tryouts, Anasta might never have gotten a shot.
“I’m kind of like not on the radar simply because coming from Catskill, nobody ever hears of anybody playing soccer in Catskill,” he said.
But even if Catskill isn’t known as soccer central, Anasta said the game is gaining in popularity all over. And it means a lot to be a part of that, he said.
“In this area soccer is starting to pick up,” he said. “Just to be able to play locally and have people that I grew up with and have my family and friends come out and support me, come and see me play locally instead of me being by myself down in New York City or Florida is definitely a huge plus. Having this level of soccer being played in the community is only going to create more buzz about soccer and get more people excited.”
Creswick, who is new to the area, already feels a sense of pride about playing for Stockade FC as a local.
“We’re quite happy, me and my wife, because we’re settled here now,” he said. “And to get to play and represent the area instead of moving somewhere else and not really having a connection to a team, it wouldn’t be as nice. Everyone kind of knows each other in a way. Or they know of each other from other friends. There’s a real feeling that everyone’s playing for their hometown, and there’s a real desire to represent the area. It’s a big strength.”
Creswick said that there’s a sense that the community is behind Stockade FC as well.
“The [Dutch Guard] Supporters Group seems great,” he said. “They all seem really keen to not only support the team, but also to get to know the players and the coaching staff. I think when it all starts to come together it’s going to be very personal and very family orientated as well. The first game of the season at Dietz is going to be a very cool experience.”
Stockade FC will play its final pre-season friendly at Dietz Stadium on Saturday, April 16 when they host Kew Forest FC from Queens. The Dutch Guard is having a meetup at 6 p.m. at Keegan Ales on St. James St. and will march from Keegan’s to Dietz for the match. Stockade FC officially opens the season with an away match against Greater Lowell United FC at Cawley Stadium in Lowell, Massachusetts on Sunday, May 8. Five days later they’ll play the Brooklyn Italians at the LIU Brooklyn Athletic Complex on Friday, May 13.
The club’s first home game will see Stockade FC host Rhode Island Reds FC on Saturday, May 21 at 2 p.m., with Greater Lowell United FC in town for a rematch on Sunday, May 22 at 4 p.m.