It took five games and five victories, over two days of play, for a group of 7th and 8th grade boys from Dedham to stand on the platform as "Champions" of the 11th Annual Mansfield Columbus Day Soccer Tournament.
With the help and organization of Beth Emery, Dedham Youth Soccer coach Chris DeMeo joined forces with Dedham Middle School co-coach Doug Chin and put together a "Dream Team" of boys from his "Raptors" - Peter Springer and Ken Micciche`s "Wild Bulls" - Andrew Podolski and Doug Chin`s Middle School teams, to compete in the annual event.
This year's Mansfield Soccer Tournament - sponsored by Easton Pool and Spa - hosted more than 110 teams from over 20 communities across the state. Teams were paired in bracket-style games, to ensure the best competition.
On Saturday, the Dedham team faced Mansfield (W 2-0) - Attleboro (W 4-1) - and North Attleborough (W 4-1) to make it to the semi-finals match on Monday. On Columbus Day, The Dedham boys battled a great team from Norwood and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. After two scoreless overtime periods, the outcome was decided on penalty kicks. Dedham held fast and took the match 1-0.
The Championship game, later that day, saw the undefeated Dedham boys facing an equally strong undefeated team from Walpole. In years past, Coach George Cariofiles has led teams from Dedham in to and through this tournament, only to fall just short in the finals. Coach Cariofiles sat on the sideline and explained "this year`s team is a little bit older, a little bit stronger, and a little bit smarter, it's time."
At the end of the Championship Match, the two teams were tied at 1-1. Once again, both teams played through two grueling sudden death overtime periods, leaving the outcome of the match to penalty kicks. Goal-keepers Oscar Littmarck and Corey Kilroy gave way to veteran Keeper Darren Pike and the result of the shoot-out saw Dedham win (4-3) and secure their victory over Walpole.
As Coaches DeMeo and Chin ran on to the field to celebrate with the boys, Coach Cariofiles let out a long sigh of relief... Congratulations to the Dedham boys, their coaches, families and friends for becoming this year's "Champs".