Maxwell Lightning takes silver medal |
special Courtesy of
the Maxwell Lightning team
6/27/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Maxwell Lightning, the under-12 soccer team, captured the silver medal at the 2013 Alabama State Games in Birmingham this past weekend with an overall record of 4-1 against all-star teams from around the state.
This is the first year Maxwell has sent a team to compete in the state games, and the Lightning were the surprise team of the under-12 division, entering the gold medal game undefeated before losing to the tourney favorite Hoover Phantoms, 5-2, in the final match.
"The youth soccer teams at the state games typically have a combination of all-star recreational teams, along with a few club or travel teams competing," said Lightning co-coach Col. Matthew Brand, director of the Spaatz Education Centers. "For a team to do this well that had a majority of its players coming from the same recreational team - the Maxwell Youth Center-sponsored local team - is phenomenal."
The Lightning combined eight players from Maxwell-Gunter, along with four players picked up from two different off-base travel club teams. Coaches Tech. Sgt. Robert White, the superintendent of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, and Brand trained the children for five weeks at Maxwell.
"My job was mainly organizing, whereas Coach White provided 90 percent of the detailed coaching on soccer tactics and techniques," Brand said. "The kids and Coach White really bonded, and we wouldn't have won silver without his phenomenal work."
Scoring goals for the Lightning were Amaris Tyynismaa, Seth Brand, Stefon Moye, and surprisingly, goalie Coleman Harrison, as well.
"Coleman was booming deep kicks after saves the entire game, and he actually nailed one that bounced twice, and with two forwards charging the goalie, he misjudged and misplayed the ball and it went into the net," said White.
Coleman was also outstanding in the net.
"He made clutch saves the entire tournament, even stopping a breakaway in the gold medal match. He was simply outstanding" remarked Brand.
Peter Rossi had a goal called back due to an off-sides penalty.
Defensively, the Lightning sparkled, as well, with Bethany White, Julia Touchette and Kobe Moye consistently limiting opponent scoring opportunities.
Teammates and coaches praised off-base members Jamie Dunning, Nathan McComber, Harrison Scott and Michael Russo.
"The club kids from off base really put us over the top," stated White. "Without these guys, this was a very good team," "but with them, it was a great team."
The Lightning opened strong with a 7-1 victory over the Enterprise Wildcats and a 5-2 win over the Helena Huskies. They then finished up regular play with a 4-0 shutout of the Elmore County Smurfs, earning the team a birth in the medal round.
In the first of the two medal round matches, the Lightning won a heart-stopping 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Ajax, catapulting the team into the gold medal game.
The Lightning's success was halted in the finals, where they fell behind 4-0 at the half to a very fast and talented Hoover Phantom team, before rallying with two consecutive second half goals to narrow the gap.
Ultimately, however, the Phantoms were just too strong, scoring late to send the Lightning to a 5-2 defeat.
A STRONG SPORTS PROGRAM
Several of the Maxwell players have played in the American Youth Soccer Organization together for the last two years for the Maxwell Flyers, and their skills and play have flourished during this period.
"Robert Richert runs a great youth center, and the sports programs run by the recently retired Fletcher Jones are top-notch," said Brand, who has also coached basketball for the last several years along with soccer.
White said he and the team were thankful to practice on base.
"To be able to use the soccer field right next to the Maxwell Family Housing Office allows the kids in the neighborhoods on both sides of the fields to just walk or ride their bikes back-and-forth to practice, which is really convenient for both parents and kids," he said.
The Maxwell Youth Center sports program offers soccer in both the fall and spring, with basketball over the winter, along with a summer swimming and basketball program as well.
Interested parents are always encouraged to volunteer to coach these activities.
"Coaching my son and these other kids has been the most rewarding thing I've done during my three-year tenure here at Maxwell," said Brand.