DMV Gunners, a new Westminster-based minor league indoor soccer league, kicks off play in MASL3

A new minor league professional indoor soccer team arrived in Carroll County when Major Arena Soccer League 3 welcomed its newest team, the DMV Gunners this season.

The Gunners are based out of the Carroll Indoor Sports Center in Westminster. They are 1-1 through their first two games.

The team is owned by Michael Bernecker, who said that the creation of the Gunners was a “long time coming.” Bernecker and a college friend had discussions about becoming a professional team owner.

“The team was born after talking to Chris Economides of MASL,” Bernecker said. “We had an arena lease at Carroll County Indoor [Sports Center] and it just went from there. I hired my coaches and we created their team that way with an open tryout.”

During player recruitment, Bernecker also found the team’s head coach, Liam Behrens, as well as his assistant and team captain, Marcos Garcia Jr., who reached out to him asking if he had coaches.

“We sat down … and we came to terms in two meetings and that was that,” Bernecker said.

The Gunners had their tryouts, got their coaches and assembled a roster mixed with local players and others from outside the area. Once everything came together, it was time to get the season started.

On Dec. 16, the team played their first game on the road, a 6-4 loss against the Philadelphia Spartans. Behrens said that the team played “very well” against the Spartans, one of the top teams in the league.

“We were right with them and lost in the last five minutes,” Behrens said.

But a team in its inaugural game was still trying to figure things out but still managed to fall just short of winning their first game against a top team.

The Gunners were supposed to play their home opener against Virginia Marauders FC on Jan. 6 but it was postponed due to inclement weather. However, they picked up their first win Jan. 13, beating the Salisbury Steaks, 9-5.

Behrens said that this league is the third tier of the MASL system and that it gives players an opportunity to showcase their ability to hopefully learn the indoor game and move up.

Early season weather postponements could have been a blessing, giving team more time to focus on gaining experience practicing with one another as they prepare for games physically and mentally.

Garcia knows that they are an inexperienced team and that it’s important for them to work on the fitness, technical and tactical aspects of the game.

“Those three pillars are kind of the essence of how we try to approach games,” he said. “Due to only having a handful of players with some degree of indoor experience, it’s super important for us fitness-wise.”

Behrens talked about Garcia’s experience and leadership playing the game, stating that what Garcia has brought to the team is a “leveled standard” that the team expects.

“I think he brings a lot of those intangibles to us,” Behrens said. “Successful teams are led by guys that have been through it before and think that’s invaluable particularly for a first-year team.”

Even though this is a first-year team, the importance of having fans in the attendance is fundamental to them according to Garcia.

“It’s a shame that the home opener got canceled,” he said. “But you can definitely feel in the air that when you’re playing away it’s not the same as when you’re playing at home. We are itching and waiting for that next home opener opportunity.”

Behrens’ goal is to have the first-year team make the playoffs this season.

“I do believe that we can achieve that,” Behrens said. “Obviously it’s about getting results and I think we can do that. I’m confident we can get to the playoffs.”

The Gunners’ next scheduled home game is Feb. 3 against Northern Virginia FC.