Playing up isn’t easy. Not only are you likely to be less physically capable than your seniors, you are also likely to face an opponent who wants to make sure no one would think anything otherwise. Especially when you’re playing two years up. That’s exactly the situation Coach Josh Gray’s mixed team of U16 and U17 players faced at the Alliance Premier Cup. After a U18 team dropped out of the tournament at the last minute, Gray had to scramble to rustle up a replacement. The result was a mixed team of younger players. Another result was the one in the final standings, which declared them tournament champions.
This team of younger players, however, was not a group of slouches. It consisted of players from both the U16 and U17 Black teams. Both teams are defending Tennessee Division 1 state champions. There aptitude was clearly visible in the final game, a 2-1 championship victory over Javanon 94 of Louisville, Kentucky. Javanon is one of the region’s top youth soccer clubs.
For the tournament, Gray’s "ragtag" squad outscored their opponents 17-1. The final was the only real close game, as other opponents struggled to simply keep the score respectable. Both groups of girls will be returning to their respective teams this week to begin preparations for the state and regional tournaments.