“The only way to win is as a team,” soccer great Pelé said. Ryan Hall and his squad have taken the quote to heart and created immeasurable improvements in team chemistry on their way to a near-perfect home record and a playoff spot.

One of the keys to team success has been the bonding outside of games and practices. The team’s unmatched chemistry has allowed UCFC to produce at an incredibly efficient rate. UCFC currently ranks second in the Major Arena Soccer League in goals scored.

“Off the field, we hang out a lot, that just helps us on the field even more,” said UCFC defender Logan Roberts. “We all just enjoy being around each other.”

Playing with such togetherness has allowed Utica City to reign over the top of the Eastern Division in the Major Arena Soccer League. With six games remaining in the regular season, UCFC has matched its win total from last year, when they earned a 13-9 record as the Syracuse Silver Knights.

“We are the closest team in the league,” bragged Joey Tavernese. “We are out there to play for one another and play for the team. On and off the field we are like a family.”

The UCFC family defeated the Harrisburg Heat by a 10-2 margin this past Sunday, officially punching their ticket to the playoffs and earning a chance to lift the Ron Newman Cup as champions of the MASL.

While it’s impossible to pinpoint a moment that helped galvanize the team as a family, their time away from the turf continues to influence the inspired play from the brotherhood in blue or this Sunday, green.

“There is no particular moment,” UCFC defender Liam Callahan said. “Hanging outside of work and outside of practice is what keeps us so close. Having a great season benefits that as well.”