ESSEX–This past weekend it played out like a survivor series. The U-14 Girls Wildcat team outwit, outplayed,and outlasted 11 other teams to become Champions of the 2012 Essex Soccer Tournament hosted by the Essex soccer clubs. Under a cloudless sky, the Island, otherwise known as the Tree Farm, was a swarm of soccer players and their families who came to cheer the girls on to the finish. There were multiple age groups from U-8 to U-17. Derby was well represented sending 16 teams to the tournament.
They faced five challengers and ran roughshod over their opposition, going 5-0. The schedule had them playing two games on Saturday and three on Sunday. Derby scored a total of 13 goals while denying their opponents access to the back of their net, shutting out all five teams.
The Wildcats were on fire this weekend. They were poetry in motion and such a joy to watch as everything fell in to place. They passed with precision, kicked with determination, ran like the wind and never gave up. Three of the games were 1-0 decisions and all the goals were scored right in the beginning of the first half.
What is so special about this team is that there are no "stars" and everyone brings something that builds upon someone else's skills which in turn makes all these young ladies a force to be reckoned with.
This weekend was truly a team effort. Each player had a "shining" moment during one of the games as the tournament featured eight different goal scorers for the Wildcats. Watching how each of these young ladies has progressed through the season to this moment was a pleasure to see.
The biggest nail biter of the weekend was the Championship game.
Derby was definitely coming in as the underdog. The team from New York had just beat Milton in a showdown that required a shootout to decide a victor.
Milton had defeated the Wildcats 4-0 during the regular season, so, to break it down, the team Derby was facing beat the team that beat the Wildcats.
Mentally that was a challenge to get over, not to mention the physical challenge of just getting done playing a match thirty minutes earlier.
With the temperature rising, the sun high in the sky, the last game of the day was ready to start.
The coaches needed to get everybody focused, and they worked their magic. Whatever they said to their team to squash the pre-game jitters worked.
They reminding the girls to believe in themselves, gave them the courage to be stronger, and had each athlete reach down deep to give everything they had for 50 more minutes of soccer.
The teams battled primarily at midfield but the Wildcats were able to take advantage on a corner and scored the only goal of the game in the middle of the first half.
In the last six seconds of the game New York refused to give up and booted one last shot from the 25 yard line that was headed for the top corner of the goal.
The sound of a ball ringing off the crossbar never sounded so sweet.
After clanking off the top post, the ball bounced harmlessly back into play.
Seconds later the whistle blew and the challenge was over and the Derby Wildcats were champions.
This game was about true heart.
A champion was decided by the simple fact of who wanted it more, and on this day it was Derby who wanted it the most, taking on all comers and sending them home defeated.
Congratulations to these true "heroes" who were underdogs going in and came out champions!
Thank you to Eric, Jenn, and Chris for all their hard work this season, guiding, encouraging, and nurturing our daughters to become more than even they thought they could be. You three are the trifecta of coaches we are so blessed to have you in their lives.
Until next season.