When a coach thinks about his state tournament roster, he envisions a roster of 18 healthy and motivated players. No coach would ever be excited about having any less than 15 for a state tournament run-except for FC Alliance coaches Lance Moore and Claudio Rico. Having between 10 and 13 players at the Division 3 state tournament was no big deal, as their 96 Gold 2 rumbled their way to finalist honors, losing a 1-0 thriller in the championship game.
The tournament started fine in regard to numbers, as Gold 2 fielded 13 players in a 2-1 win over Upper Cumberland United. Those same 13 players then scored the upset of the tournament, a 4-1 thrashing of Lakeway United. Two months earlier, Lakeway had defeated Gold 4-0 at the FC Alliance tournament, so the win was a sweet one.
“The boys put together a great game,” commented Coach Rico.
Not only did the win equal a measure of revenge, it also propelled the boys into the state semifinal game the next morning.
This is when roster numbers became more of an issue. First off, the team began the day with only twelve players against the Jackson SC Wolves. By the time the final whistle blew, two players had limped off with injuries, leaving the team with only ten on the field. Amazingly, the scoreboard read 4 to 1, in favor of FC Alliance Gold 2.
The two players injured in the semifinals returned for the championship game, as the entire team gave everything they had, but Memphis powerhouse Tennessee Rush used more depth to take home the title.