Ten Darlington School Soccer Academy players earned spots to represent their respective countries in international games last year and at upcoming international U20 World Cup Qualifier games in February. Games will take place throughout the Carribean. These players will be joining up with their respective national teams to play U20 CONCACAF Nations League - U20 World Cup Qualifier games for training camps in the first half of the month, and tournament games will start Feb. 22-28.
Called up for the Cayman Islands are U20s Jaydon Whittaker ('24), Jaeden Gordon ('25), Lachlin Lambert ('24), Joshwa Campbell ('24), Eddy Salaverri ('24) and Preston Duval ('26). These young men will compete against Haiti, Puerto Rico, and St. Kitts & Nevis.
Additionally, William Gardiner ('24) has played with the Bahamas U15 and U17 teams in the past few years, and both he and fellow senior William Evans ('24) competed with the Bahamian Senior Men's Team during fall 2023 CONCACAF Nations League.
Also during October and November of 2023, both Lambert and Ailan Panton ('25) were called into train and play goalkeeper with the full Men's National Teams of Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.
Nicky Lawrence ('25) also earned a call-up trial for the Jamaican U17 team this past year.
Along with these CONCACAF players, Panton has had the chance to represent Trinidad playing in CONCACAF U17 World Cup qualifiers in the spring of 2023, playing against the CONCACAF powerhouses of USA and Canada.
"Hearing the Trinidad and Tobago Anthem then hearing the United States National Anthem prior to the kickoff of the U17 World Cup Qualifiers last year was an impactful moment for me and my soccer career," said Panton. "It's truly a humbling moment and special honor to represent your country. Since we were playing the US National Team, the game was streamed and watched by thousands of college coaches and professional MLS staff members. That one international game has opened up countless doors for my college recruiting and soccer career."
Also being recognized by his country is Ivan Horvat ('24), who has trained at the Slovakian U17-19 National Team camps.
More locally, Kostas Pateritsas ('25), a day student from Rome, has caught the eye of Atlanta United and Chattanooga FC. He and Gordon have had the opportunity to train with Atlanta United MLS Academy, and Pateritsas has played friendlies with Chattanooga FC - now a MLS Next Pro Team.
As coaches, we take tremendous pride when our players are representing their countries for National Team duties. These young student-athletes are doing great things within our Darlington Community (as prefects and in residential leader roles), taking care of business in the classroom (last year we ended with 28 of our players with an average of 95 or above), and turning heads from college coaches and their respective National Team coaches in the world of soccer.
We couldn't be prouder to have such a large number of our players called up to play in the U-20 World Cup Qualifiers for CONCACAF. We would argue that there is not another youth soccer club in the country that has 10 players involved with National Team call-ups. Four of our players, at the age of 17-18 years old, have now started in 4-5 games for their full Men's National Teams; International Caps at this age is a huge honor.
It's always a tough balance, and schedules are tight for these young student-athletes. But that's the beauty of Darlington School Soccer Academy -- our students are having the full experience of academics, student life and sports. As an example, two weeks ago during RUMPUS weekend the boys' Soccer Academy players played at the Atlanta United MLS Academy's Showcase with over 150 college coaches attending. We had a game Friday night at the Childrens' Healthcare Training Grounds and then rushed back for our boys to compete in RUMPUS Dodgeball. Saturday was a full RUMPUS day with players competing for their houses in The Gauntlet and, of course, Lip Sync. Sunday, the boys traveled back to Atlanta United's Showcase for another top-level game against a Top-10 nationally ranked club team with college coaches surrounding the field. These Atlanta United games were played in front of Clemson, Rutgers, Stetson, Wofford, Furman, Ga. State, Wake Forest, Georgia Southern, UNC-Charlotte, College of Charleston, and UAB, to name a few. And now these programs are recruiting our players.
So, players on the Darlington School Soccer Academy are representing Darlington at the MLS Academy level, college level, and World Cup qualifying levels. Pretty amazing!
Click here to learn more about Darlington School Soccer Academy.