I’ve become accustomed to the weather forecasts being wrong and thankfully it was wrong for our tournament yesterday. As I had noted earlier, the forecast was pretty scary. When we got to the fields, the clouds were very dark, the wind was blowing and rain was falling on and off. I had a small weather radio with me listening non stop to NOAA radio and it was very handy. We were able to listen as the storms moved south and as they ended up canceling the Severe Thunderstorm Warning for our area. So we dodged the bullet for sure. The weather was still very cloudy and we never really knew if we would avoid further rain. But by the time the championship matches started at 5PM, things were clearing up a bit and the fields were dry. It was still cloudy, but it was clear we wouldn’t get any more rain. It quickly became clear the excitement would be on the field.
The first game up was the U8 Coed Championship. My son played in it and I am an assistant coach for his team. It was a very fast paced game as I outlined below. Alas, my son’s team played their hearts out but lost 1-0. But the winning team played an excellent game and it was VERY exciting for all. By the end of the game it was clear that the kids from both teams were spent and had left it all on the field. We were VERY proud.
But the excitement was only going to build as the U12 Coed teams took the field. Team Optima had dominated their division during the regular season, scoring 29 goals and only allowing one against. But the Eagles had come to play and they held Team Optima scoreless for 60 minutes. The teams gathered up for the shootout as the crowd moved down to the goal. SIX shootout rounds later, Team Optima came away with the win 2 shots to 1. It was nerve wracking but the keepers were at the top of their game making many spectacular saves and there were also a few ringing shots off the posts. But the highlight of the match had to be when one of the girls on Team Optima, who had been sidelined in a cast most of the season and playing for the first time since getting the cast off, took a shot during regulation from the top of the penalty box that flew up and slammed into the crossbar. The goal actually rocked back slightly. It was impressive. But alas, they couldn’t put the rebound into the net.
The U10 Coed Championship saw the #6 Tidal Wave face off against the #4 Rockets, both team having upset higher ranked teams. The Tidal Wave had some trouble defensively during the season allowing 13 goals, but they were a wall during the tournament. The Rockets attacked repeatedly but could not put the ball into the net. So this championship also went to a shootout. FOUR shootout rounds later, after spectacular saves again, the Tidal Wave came away with a 1-0 shootout win and upset.
Needless to say we had many matches decided by shootout. The U10 coaches have felt the goal were too small (I think they are 6′ x 8′) all season and it is clear they need to be somewhat bigger. Not regulation, but bigger. So as our new fields are built, I expect we’ll be adjusting our goal size for U10/U12. But the shootouts were exciting and all of our keepers handled the pressure very well.
But overall the tournament was a smashing success. Everyone had a great time and teams who never had a chance to play in the post season due to their regular season records were able to show how much they improved. In the end our tournament champions were ranked #3, #6, and #1 from each division. That’s pretty cool.