It was a bond that began a decade ago between three friends as they were part of a roster composing the Aiken Rovers.
Although the triumvirate of soccer players were only 8 years old at the time, that experience helped forge a friendship between the three teammates that is still strong today.
The three players, Dylan Onderdonk-Snow, 18; Daniel Zaremba, 17; and Michael Ulmer, 17; played together on the Rovers, not knowing at the time that they would go their separate ways but reunite six years later.
“It was my first team, and I loved that team,” said Onderdonk-Snow. “It was one of my favorite teams ever. I had missed my old teammates.”
They won the S.C. Youth Soccer State Cup championship as part of the S.C. United Boys ’94 Elite with a 4-1 victory over CESA ’94 Boys in Rock Hill earlier this month to qualify for the U.S. Youth Soccer regional tournament in Oklahoma in June.
“It was an all Aiken-based team (the Aiken Rovers), so we didn’t have to travel very far,” said Onderdonk-Snow, who is a centerman. “As we got older, we started getting more ambitious, so we started going to bigger teams in Columbia or Augusta. We started spreading out.”
Onderdonk-Snow, a captain with the Aiken High School soccer team, had been playing with South Carolina United Boys ’94 Elite, the S.C. Youth Soccer team in Columbia, all throughout high school, and suggested to his friends Zaremba, who plays forward, and Ulmer, a goalie – both captains on the South Aiken High School soccer team – to try out for the Columbia-based team.
The three friends reuniting on the South Carolina United Boys ’94 Elite team has been meaningful for the players. The team scored during the first minute of play in the state cup final, and also benefitted from their opponents’ goalkeeper receiving a red card during the game’s initial 60 seconds.
“We played an amazing game; it was really special,” said Onderdonk-Snow.
One of the players had extra motivation in the game against CESA ’94 Boys, who was the tournament favorite having had the season’s best record in the premier league, Ulmer had played for the team since ninth grade. The goalie played the entire game during the finals, not splitting halves, as he’s accustomed.
The S.C. United Boys ’94 Elite continued their winning ways the day after Christmas with a 4-2 victory in Kissimmee, Fla. The players will start off their high school conditioning when they return from the their holiday vacation in the beginning of January, said Onderdonk-Snow.
The Aiken-South Aiken rivalry creates for a great deal of good-natured fun.
“Last year, he (Onderdonk-Snow) almost scored on me,” Ulmer said.