Cantillo, Kokovic Score With PDL Soccer

July 17, 2006

Baltimore, Md. - Senior Julian Cantillo scored his first goal of the season to lead the Northern Virginia Royals over the Richmond Kickers in a Premier Development League (PDL) game last Saturday. For Cantillo, one of seven seniors on Loyola's 2006 roster, the Royals and the PDL have given him invaluable playing time and a chance to showcase his skills over the summer.

"I look at this as a great opportunity," says Cantillo in reference to his PDL squad. "Playing in this league is not only a great way to get in shape Loyola's soccer season, but also lets me play soccer against some very good players. Playing for the Northern Virginia Royals has made me a better player."

The top U-23 men's amateur league in North America, the PDL has served as a development ground for elite players. This summer, not only has Cantillo joined on with the Northern Virginia Royals, but fellow seniors Rade Kokovic, Gabriel Ortega and Danny Wheelan played in an exhibition match with Crystal Palace FC USA last Saturday.

Kokovic scored against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The exhibition match pitted Crystal Palace USA against its host club, England's Crystal Palace FC of the Premier Soccer League. In the match, Kokovic stepped up and scored USA's lone goal in a 3-1 loss.

Cantillo, meanwhile joined the Northern Virginia Royals a few games into the season and has worked his way into the starting lineup. Having played nine games for the Royals, the Loyola senior has one goal and an assist on nine shots.

"There is no replacement for competitive soccer games," says Loyola Head Coach Mark Mettrick. "Julian [Cantillo] has played a lot of valuable minutes this summer and it will certainly benefit him in his preparation for the upcoming season."

The Northern Virginia Royals are 5-9 this summer and have two matches remaining on their regular-season schedule. Both of those matches are this weekend at Garfield High School in Woodbridge, Va. The Royals host the Virginia Beach Submariners on Friday at 5 p.m. and the Raleigh Elite on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for youth and can be purchased at the gate.

"At the end of the day, the PDL gives competitive 90-minute matches," adds Mettrick. "I'm happy to see our players make that commitment. It shows their ambition and that they want to improve. With Crystal Palace starting a Baltimore chapter next year, I hope to see a lot more of our players in the PDL next summer."