A group of 12 and 13-year-old boys have made the Sault soccer scene proud.
The Sault Youth Soccer Club’s Soo City United 2010 Boys squad notched their first-ever tournament victory Sunday in a nailbiter win over Northern Michigan FC in the Gold Division at the Cherry Capital Cup in Traverse City, Michigan.
The Sault club was the only Canadian boys team in the tournament, defeating Northern Michigan FC 1-0 after a 5-4 shootout.
Goalkeeper Gage Guzzo made two big saves and Mason Mazzuca scored the winner in the shootout after the teams played to a scoreless tie through regulation and extra time.
The final match was described as “an intense battle” in a release, as the Sault team battled an undefeated opponent in Northern Michigan FC.
“I think I aged a few years,” chuckled Jamie Capisciolto, Soo City United 2010 Boys coach, speaking to SooToday.
“It was a pretty stressful final with two really evenly matched clubs.”
But the stress was worth it as the Sault club’s players hoisted the trophy and wore their gold medals.
The victory avenged a 4-1 loss to Northern Michigan in the round robin. Other round robin results included a 5-2 win against the West Shore Waves and 3-0 victory against the Macomb Nationals.
“It was a really classy game that we played against a team that had beaten us earlier in the round robin. We changed up some things tactically and positionally for the final game and I think we surprised them in a lot of ways in how hard we pressed,” Capisciolto said.
“We played nearly flawless soccer.”
The gold medal-winning effort in Traverse City follows a runner up performance in Sudbury earlier this spring.
“We’ve had some good showings at other tournaments but we were never really able to string together the level of consistency to carry it the whole way through and I think they found the level of effort and commitment that was required to achieve such a tremendous result,” Capisciolto said.
“I’m extremely proud of the team’s effort, all 16 players. They brought it to a higher level. To me it seemed like a real coming of age for them.”
The team had been training since November on the indoor soccer pitch at the Sault’s Northern Community Centre, practicing up to four times a week throughout the winter and early spring.
“To see that culminate with this result is really satisfying. They've put in the work,” Capisciolto said.
Going forward, the Soo City United 2010 Boys team will be competing in Petoskey, Michigan’s 41st Annual Fresh Coast Classic June 2 through 4.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Capisciolto said.
“Now that they’ve done it and they know what’s required and what kind of effort it takes I’m really excited to see what else we can accomplish this year because they’ve brought their level of play to a completely new stratosphere.”