Dear Fans and Partners,
After falling to cross-state rival, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-1 on September 19th, the Harrisburg City Islanders missed their chance at taking home the first-annual Keystone Derby Cup and failed to advance to the USL Playoffs for the first year since 2010.
Consequently, Harrisburg finished the 2015 USL season in eighth place in the USL Eastern Conference standings with a record of 11-11-6. Prior to the 2015 season, the Islanders advanced to the USL finals in 2014 and have made the playoffs nine times in their 12 seasons with the United Soccer League.
Islanders Head Coach Bill Becher commented, “Looking back it is disappointing to fall short of playoffs. However, it is hard to say we had a bad season. We had a better record and more points than we did last year when we advanced to the USL finals, unfortunately our lack of consistency cost us at the end.”
However, despite uncontrollable factors veterans and rookie players alike kept the Islanders USL playoff push alive until their last regular season match against the Riverhounds. Rookies Jason Plumhoff and Ken Tribbett, both lead the Islanders in scoring, points and minutes. Plumhoff recorded 10 goals and 26 points, while Tribbett played every minute of every game in 2015.
“We dealt with a lot, but we didn’t let any of that get to us,” Becher said. “That speaks volumes about the types of players we have up here.”
Becher’s favorite memory of the 2015 season was the team’s triumph against Pittsburgh on July 26th. The Islanders were down 3-1 when they lost midfield staple Jose Barril to a red card. However, the team was able to orchestrate a stunning comeback to take a 4-3 victory when Plumhoff scored his second goal of the night in the final minute of extra time.
In correlation with the team’s success on the pitch came an exponential increase in attendance at Skyline Sports Complex. Since 2014, the Islanders saw a 41% increase in total attendance, leaping from 29,906 fans to 42,285 fans in just one season and achieving an increase in average attendance per game from 1,993 fans to 2,766 fans.
Most notably, the Islanders hosted nine sell-outs and recorded franchise record crowds in both Harrisburg and Lancaster. The first being when the team hosted Rochester in front of 3,024 fans at Skyline Sports Complex and the later, when the Islanders hosted a regular season USL match and friendly against the Philadelphia Union in front of 11,000 fans at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster.
While many fans will look back at their game day experiences as their most fond memories of the 2015 season, in accordance with our mission to inspire and empower our community on and off the field our fan interaction did not end after our matches at Skyline Sports Complex.
The Harrisburg City Islanders organization could not be more proud and honored to have more than 1,500 area youth players participating in our Academy programs. These year-round programs include our Academy Summer Teams, Summer Camps, Indoor Training, and multiple tournaments. This season, we had 20 high school teams participate in our High School 7v7 Summer League; we added two great locations to our Indoor Training schedule; we partnered with 3v3 Live to bring 3v3 tournaments to the area, with the focus on getting area teams to National Finals in Disney; and new this year we are offering local high school soccer players the opportunity to participate in a College ID Clinic right in their back yard this December.
As the Academy continues to grow, we cannot thank the community and area families enough for supporting our programs and allowing us to grow and develop programs to benefit Central Pennsylvania’s youth soccer players. For more information on all of the camps, clinics, leagues and tournaments the City Islanders Academy has to offer visit http://cityislanders.com/academy/.
Additionally, the Islanders partnered with 22 different charities and made donations to over 400 organizations throughout the season. Most notably, PINK night was held at a match this season to benefit the Feel Your Boobies organization. The event was marked by a “Bras across the Bridge” event that resulted in increased awareness for the need of breast exams and the collection of 900 bras being donated to our valued sponsor, Community Aid.
At several games clothing drives were held in partnership with Community Aid. The clothing that was collected throughout the season will be sold in their Community Aid Thrift Stores and the proceeds will be donated back into the area through grants to local non-profits. Community Aid was also one of many partners that also added to the fan experience with their 50/50 raffle.
Furthermore, the Islanders partnered with over 20 local youth clubs and organizations this season. Allowing our coaches, players and staff to continue our efforts in developing youth talent through coaching, clinics, appearances, and in-game recognition.
The USL currently features 24 clubs and recently announced the additions of Lehigh Valley, FC Cincinnati and Rio Grande Valley FC for the 2016 season; increasing their total number of franchises to 27, nine of which are independently owned and operated by MLS teams.
In order to excel in a league that continues to grow in resources and talent the Islanders are prepared for the next chapter in the organization and will strive to keep the results on and off that field as they have for the past 12 seasons. “We have been working diligently with the USL league and we look forward to announcing the exciting plans for the Harrisburg City Islanders 2016 Season,” affirmed Islanders CFO Eric Pettis. “Increasing the investment of the franchise in order to continue to be relevant in this league is the direction the organization is headed.”
The greatest investment in the Islanders franchise is the construction of a new, professional soccer stadium that will vastly improve the recreational experience for both fans and players and is expected to increase attendance at the regular season home games by up to 5,000 spectators per game.
“This is an enormous opportunity for the people of the greater Harrisburg area,” said Eric Pettis, CFO of the Harrisburg City Islanders. “It will change the city in a dramatic way forever. It’s imperative that we show the county and state the support behind the Harrisburg City Islanders and the multi-use stadium that will benefit the entire community. We believe public support will make a difference.”
The City Islanders are asking fans, the public, and community leaders, to join in with a signature of support pronouncing their commitment by placing their name on the Harrisburg City Islanders Multi-Use Stadium Project petition. The petition can be found online at http://bit.ly/SupportHCIStadium and the Harrisburg City Islanders Front Office.
We thank you for your continued support and encourage you to closely follow us at www.cityislanders.com and all social media hubs as we prepare to release plans for the 2016 USL season.