The resiliency of the athlete is one of the special things in youth sports. Only minutes after a heartbreaking loss, wet eyes usually dry and the conversation turns from the game to what pizza joint the team will be dining at that afternoon.
Of course, this is only one reason why Ray Wells is smiling today. The other is the performance of hisCitrus United under-13 boy's soccer team in this weekend's Region C championship tournament.
No. United didn't win. And yes, it was eliminated from the President's Cup tournament in one of the toughest ways possible _ a shootout. Yet, in the end, the kids were still kids and the effort with which they played made the loss a bit easier to handle.
"It was a great game and it was such a team effort," Wells said of Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Lee County Strikers in the Region C championship game. "I was very pleased. The kids played so well and worked so hard. They were down for five or 10 minutes, but you get over these kinds of things."
United never trailed until the final kick of the shootout session. Chase Wilder gave United a 1-0 lead in the first half, and after Lee County tied the score, Alex Posta helped United reclaim the lead with his 57th goal of the year.
But Lee County came back and sent the game into overtime with a goal in the final 18 minutes.
In the best-of-five shootout, United again took the initiative, grabbing a 2-1 advantage after goals by Derrick Vaccianna and Kyle Griffin, but Lee County made the most of its final three chances.
"I felt bad about the kids missing their chances, but there was so much pressure," Wells said. "It's the finals of the Region Cup, and it's tough walking up to that line by yourself. People from other games came over to watch. Up there by yourself with all those people watching, I'm sure it can be rather nerve-racking."
United, finished third in its regular-season league before winning seven in a row in the President's Cup tournament. Win No. 7 came easily, as United defeated the Lakeland Lazers 3-0 Saturday, with Posta earning the hat trick.
United is planning to play in several tournaments between now and next season and will host a soccer camp June 16-20 featuring British Soccer, a group of English and Scottish players and coaches that travels the country working with youth teams.
BREAKAWAY UNDER-14 GIRLS WIN TITLE: The Breakaway under-14 girls soccer team wrapped up the C-Cup championship March 16 the same way they've ended every game this season, with a win.
Undefeated through the regular season and the playoffs, Breakaway completed its season with a 5-1 whipping of Hernando last Sunday. Tabitha Schrufer scored twice, and teammates Robin Wilson, Breanne Davilla and Heather Vantine also scored.
Breakaway outscored its competition 19-to-1 over its four playoff games, topping First Hernando 1-0 in the first round, blasting Hudson 9-0 in the second round, then shutting out rival East Citrus 4-0.
Coach Ken Young praised his midfield (Alyse Johnson, Melody Young, Jennifer Stanton, Jennifer Dobran and Dawn Ballam) for its tenacious play throughout the season and playoffs as well as the defense (Daniella and Heather Saltmarsh, Ashley Brisco, Crystal Pruitt, Angela Bowman and Tabitha Schrufer) and goalkeeper Kim Virachoff.