With a successful debut season that’s still ongoing, the Potomac Exiles have decided to enhance their developmental system with a Division Three squad.
The Division One side followed up a one-loss regular season by capturing the Mid-Atlantic crown, and will now face NYAC in the USA Regional round. While immediate dividends from the Maryland Exiles/PAC merger were expected, the union between the old rivals was always about continued, sustained success and the development of the best talent on the DC/Metro area.
Attendance at practice has been great, but many committed players were left with B-side matches as the only chance to put their hard work on display on Saturdays. And with not every team able to fulfill their B-side commitments, there was some disappointment for guys that came out every Tuesday and Thursday, but had yet to crack the A-side roster, which was a driving force behind the decision to add a D3 team.
“The key thing is that there’s no consistency in terms of our second team getting games,” explained Potomac Exiles’ coach Chris Mahony. “Those that of us that do have a B side, we want to be able to guarantee that team games, and we can’t guarantee them games in the current format, so it’s much better to put them in the D3 where they will definitely get games each week, but we can still train as one squad.”
By getting Division Three status for their developmental side, the athletes will have a better chance to prove they belong on the Division 1 team, while rounding out their skillset in a highly competitive environment. Plus, there’s reason to hope that adding a second side, thus guaranteeing more division matches, will enable the Exiles’ recruitment efforts.
“Players will probably be more willing to join our side knowing that they have opportunities to start for one of our two teams,” said Exiles’ president Mike Minchik. “It will make an easier sell to players with limited experience to come to our team and develop the fundamentals.”
By adding a second side, Potomac is confident that it will not only give the second side better matches, but will also help improve the play of the first side.
“I think it’ll be more positive than what we had last year, because we’ll have guys constantly playing,” explained Mahony. The majority of the time the B team does play, we only play 25 or 30-minute halves, and that’s got to be disappointing to people that are coming to training and not getting the time to show what they can do. It will strengthen the squad because more players [will]get more time out in the action.”
The hope for the Exiles is that this is only the beginning for the D3 side. Teams with second sides that don’t compete in consecutive divisions (i.e. D1 and D2) are not eligible to compete for a National Championship, but there will be an opportunity to quickly moveup the ranks.
“Hopefully, the nature of our game means that [the Division 3 side] will be extremely competitive. Certainly the goal’s going to be to try and win the division and then move up,” explained Mahony.
If the D3 Potomac Exiles can follow in the footsteps of its D1 counterparts and quickly establish itself as the best team in the Mid-Atlantic, both teams will be able to compete for the ultimate prize: a National Championship.