Bergin part of soccer national champions

Wilton resident Addison Bergin (with trophy) was part of the AC Connecticut boys 13-under team that won a national championship last week.

Wilton resident Addison Bergin (with trophy) was part of the AC Connecticut boys 13-under team that won a national championship last week.

Contributed photo / AC Connecticut soccer

With a Wilton player making significant contributions, a state soccer club became national champions.

Addison Bergin, a rising eighth grader at Middlebrook Middle School, was part of the Newtown-based AC Connecticut boys team that won the 13-under Premier Division title at the National Cup XVIII Finals in Colorado.

A total of 216 teams from 32 states competed across 22 divisions at the event, which was the culmination of US Club Soccer’s cup-based national competition.

AC Connecticut won all five of its games, including a 2-1 victory in the championship match against Sporting Arkansas Premier on July 25 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the home of the Colorado Rapids MLS (Major League Soccer) team.

“We knew we had a good team, but we didn’t know how good the other teams would be,” Bergin said. “We got some confidence from our first game (a 7-2 triumph over PV United from California) but we knew there would be tougher opponents.”

The next day, Bergin scored the deciding goal in the final seconds of AC Connecticut’s 2-1 win over One7 Academy, which had driven 36 hours to the tournament from its home base in Charlotte, N.C.

“A teammate crossed the ball and one player missed it and it went to me,” Bergin said. “The ball bounced once and I put it into the bottom right of the goal.”

In its third game, AC Connecticut had to rally from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Arkansas Comets Premier team, 4-3. Bergin raced from across the field to make a slide tackle in the box during the final minutes.

“He (the Arkansas Comets player) was alone but he messed up a touch,” Bergin said. “That gave me extra time to get over and make the slide tackle before he could shoot.”

AC Connecticut then beat Global Premier Soccer (Bedford, N.H.) by a score of 5-0 before coming back from one-goal down to edge Sporting Arkansas in the championship game.

“The kids wanted to be at their best, and while they were there they took it upon themselves not only to win for the team but for AC,” head coach Steve Carneiro said. “They wanted to put Connecticut on the map and represent their badge.”

Bergin and his teammates had qualified for the national championships by winning the Connecticut Cup in May. AC Connecticut, which competed in the New York Club Soccer League, also triumphed at the EDP Cup tournament last fall in Hammonton, N.J.

The national title represented a big step forward for AC Connecticut, which has expanded to field youth teams at virtually every age level, including a professional squad. This team was put together in one season from two separate squads, and it was Carneiro’s first year working with the group.

Bergin was one of AC Connecticut’s most versatile players, seeing time as a left wing, left back, central defensive midfielder, and attacking midfielder during the National Cup finals.

“On any given day any particular player could be a standout,” Carneiro said. “These players would tell you as much; everyone is such a high-level player from our first player to the 17th. They all deserve the spotlight.”

Hearst Connecticut sports reporter Ryan Lacey contributed to this story.