SOCCER Greenwich’s Colligan headed to Sweden to compete in Gothia Cup
Padraig Colligan enjoys the challenges and responsibilities that come with being a soccer goalie and next month, the Greenwich High School student will certainly be challenged in goal.
A rising Greenwich High junior, Colligan’s goalie skills will be on display overseas, as he will travel to Sweden with his Denali Futbol team to compete in the Gothia Cup.
Regarded as the World Youth Cup, the Gothia Cup is the world’s largest and most international, youth soccer tournament. This year’s Gothia Cup, which takes place July 16-21, features 1,730 teams from 82 nations and will see more than 41,000 players compete in 4,500 games on 110 different fields in Sweden.
The Gothia Cup features seven boys and girls classes, ranging from players ages 11 to 18. The Denali Futbol squad Colligan is on will play in the Boys 16 class. One of 44 teams from the United States in the Boys 16 class, Denali will compete in Group 23, along with two squads from Sweden - Torslanda and Varbergs - and one team from England - Helena Romanes School. Teams that advance out of their respective group advance to the tournament’s 32-team main draw.
“I heard of the Gothia Cup before, but I never thought that I would be playing in a major soccer competition abroad anywhere,” the 16-year-old Colligan said. “I’ve never been outside of U.S. soil, so I’m very excited about having this opportunity to travel to Europe to play soccer.”
Denali — a youth soccer alliance — is an all-star type team comprised of players from FC Westchester and New York Soccer Club. Playing in an indoor soccer league at Chelsea Piers with his friends over the winter, Colligan caught the attention of FC Westchester coaches, who asked him if he would try out for their team.
Colligan made the FC Westchester squad, then after becoming a member of the program was selected to play at the Gothia Cup.
“I’m looking at the Gothia Cup as a way of helping me get better as a player,” said Colligan, who will start in goal for Denali at the Gothia Cup. “I really hope it is a fantastic experience and I hope we can win as many games as possible. There are great teams in there from all around the world, so it would be amazing if we could win the whole thing.”
Denali and Colligan’s journey overseas won’t end at Gothia Cup’s conclusion. After their competition in Sweden, they will bring their talents to Denmark for the Dana Cup. Scheduled to be held July 23-28, the Dana Cup includes 1,000 teams from 42 nations and will have over 19,000 participants. Denali’s roster includes 18 players.
Colligan found his soccer niche as a goalie as a sixth-grader.
“I volunteered to be a goalie, because we needed a goalie and I went on from there,” he said. “My sister and brother took me out and practiced with me to help me get better.”
His older sister Shannon, was a star soccer player at Greenwich High, who went on to play the sport at the collegiate level. Colligan’s brother Danny was a standout defender on Greenwich’s lacrosse team, before playing at St. John’s, where he just finished his sophomore season.
For Padraig Colligan, goalie is a position he’s always liked playing.
“I like knowing that I am the one who has a large factor on whether the team wins or loses,” Colligan said. “I like diving around, making saves and anything that involves me hanging in the air for a couple of seconds.”
Colligan made Greenwich’s varsity soccer squad as a sophomore last fall and served as a back-up goalie to junior Jimmy Johnson, who was a First Team All-FCIAC selection. The Cardinals topped Trumbull for the FCIAC championship in 2017.
“Being a part of that team was incredible, even though I was not playing too much,” Colligan said. “It was surreal. I learned a lot from watching Jimmy Johnson play throughout my sophomore season — he greatly influenced me.”
Also earning a position on the Cardinals’ varsity lacrosse team as a sophomore goalie, Colligan backed up Connor Santry in goal this past spring. Like his siblings, he has aspirations of playing a sport at the collegiate level, though he’s not sure if it will be so ccer or lacrosse.
“That’s always been the question for me,” he said. “I like both sports and my parents told me to just go with both until the end of high school,” he said. “Both sports are a lot of fun for me.”
Colligan returned from playing in a lacrosse tournament in Massachusetts on Friday with his Express Lacrosse summer team. Next week, he will practice with Denali, as they prepare for the Gothia Cup. The team trains in Purchase, N.Y.
“We are working on a lot of penalty kicks,” he said. “Our coach reminds us that about 80 percent of the games end on penalty kicks, because there are no ties at the Gothia Cup. It is stressful for a goalie, but I really do enjoy it.”