7 Elite Academy 06 Boys White (DA) have been praised for their “professionalism and dignity” during a rollercoaster run to the final of the Las Vegas Mayor's Cup.
The Utah youngsters finished top of their under-13s group in Nevada, before beating Rampage FC 1-0 in a nailbiting semi-final encounter on Sunday of the President’s Day weekend.
A winner-takes-all showdown with Guadalajara NM Santa FE on Monday produced a 1-1 stalemate at full time, before the ensuing penalty shoot-out ended in dramatic a 8-9 defeat for the 7EA Boys.
They did, however, receive plaudits for their conduct throughout the three-day tournament.
Coach Danny Acosta said: “We embrace failure and success the same way and moments like these are an opportunity to be better human beings. They are both are life lessons.
“These reactions will define who we are as people. To me as soccer coach, it is a priority to teach the kids to connect with people and seeing them display good values under those circumstances is a humbling experience.”
The 7EA team scored nine goals during the tournament and conceded just five – including two shutouts.
Wayne Scholes, Chief Executive at 7 Elite Academy, said: “I am massively proud of how our boys carried themselves during the tournament in Las Vegas. They showed real professionalism and dignity.
“The comments of people I spoke to is music to our ears and shows how hard our staff and parents are working to instil a professional attitude in all the players here at 7EA.
“The kind of sportsmanship they showed is as important as winning and they represented our organisation with real honour.
“I have been sent messages from a number of teams we faced during the tournament and they all followed the same theme. They all told me how proud we should be of our players. And I am.”
Daren Woolstenhume, General Manager at 7 Elite Academy, added: “The boys worked really well together and the great success they have had is due to all of the hard work they have put in, the dedication and sacrifice to be the best they can.
“Coach Acosta has the boys learning not just on the pitch but in life as well and at 7 Elite Academy that is just as important for every single player.
“The 06 boys team is a great example of what we are trying to teach to all of our players, mind, body, spirit. I am so happy for them."