Young soccer team goes undefeated

Published 10:03 pm Friday, December 7, 2012

A dedicated team of 8- and 9-year old soccer players called the Colorado Rapids went undefeated, winning the fall championship for the U-10 division of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association. Back row, from left, coaches Matt King and Adrian Holland. Front row, from left, Connor Bradshaw, Trent Holland, Molly Leavy, Maren Council, Lilly Bivins, Clifton Harrell III, Nathan Dowd, Brady King and Blaine Dorough. Not pictured are coaches Clifton Harrell Jr., Harper Bradshaw and Michael Council.

By Titus Mohler

Staff Writer

The Colorado Rapids, a recreational soccer team, went undefeated this fall and won the championship for the U-10 division of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association.

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After going 8-0 in the regular season, the team advanced through the postseason round-robin tournament with three more wins and then won the championship game.

“They were just a really good group of kids,” coach Adrian Holland said.

Holland said many of the kids on the team have been playing together for years.

“Three of the boys that played on that team had played together for the past three or four years and a couple other players had been on there — this was their second and third year,” he said. “So the team had kind of built going along.”

All but two of the players had been on the same team together last year. With only one 9-year-old player, the team was also on the young end of the U-10 age division, which includes 8- and 9-year olds.

Like the average kid, the Rapids players would clown around before and after games, but during practice and the games themselves, they really showed Holland, Matt King and the other coaches something special.

“I guess the thing about this crowd (is) when they get to practice, they really, really wanted to practice,” Holland said.

“Every single one of the kids on the team is so coachable,” King said.

“Any time we threw something at them, a new drill or something to work on and improve, they really embraced it and worked hard on it in practice and then they would take it to the field,” Holland said.

“It was baffling, almost, how responsive they were to what we asked them to do,” King said.

A steady companion to the kids’ hard work was confidence.

“I don’t want to say they expected to win, but they really practiced, twice a week,” Holland said. “When they got to the field, they really felt like they had prepared enough to win the game.”

Even in the more challenging games, they remained consistent and followed their coaches’ advice.

“Some of the teams maybe had seen them play and tried a little bit different way to either attack us or defend us,” Holland said. “It’s really a testament to (the Rapids that) they never really got rattled when things didn’t go the way they had gone the first two or three games of the season.”

The team benefited particularly from a strong nucleus that included Connor Bradshaw, Clifton Harrell III, and Trent Holland. These three players played together for one year in U-6, two years in U-8, and then this year.

This year’s team achieved its success, despite featuring only one year-round soccer player.

“That’s another nice thing about that little group — they’re seasonal athletes, but they played really well during the soccer season,” Holland said.

“Matt King and I also coach baseball together, and our (mode of operation) is as long as kids leave us a little better than they were when they got to us, we’ve done a good job,” he said.

In the three years that he coached many of the kids on the team, he has watched the kids keep on striving to improve.

“As a coach, that’s one of the things you want—just kids who are willing to work hard, and want to get better, and put forth the time and effort to do it,” he said.