By Coach Lenny
The Emerson Middle School soccer team put the finishing touches on an excellent season this past weekend, winning the Ann Arbor Independent Athletic Association tournament. Having finished first in the regular season, with a perfect 10 wins in 10 games, the Eagles were the top seed, and so faced a fired up and rapidly improving third-seed Ann Arbor Christian School team to start things off Friday afternoon. While it was, as always, a total team effort, Vincent Pelosi was definitely the man of the hour. Vincent scored all four Emerson goals, including one header that had his teammates cheering, and the spectators shaking their heads in wonder. Meanwhile, the Emerson defense was smothering, putting up their third shutout of AACS this season.
In Friday’s second game, Spiritus Sanctus Plymouth played fourth seed Washtenaw Christian Academy to see who would play second seed Steiner School the following morning. WCA had no trouble dispatching SSP, scoring in the first 20 seconds, and a few more times after that, and so looked forward to a frost covered game to wake up to.
Steiner had a little too much for WCA to handle. In the first half, the WCA keeper came out for a through ball, but the Steiner right winger beat him to the ball, touched it to the front of the empty net, where the center forward tapped it in. In the second half, Steiner’s fleet left mid carried the ball down the sideline past and around the WCA defense before beating the keeper inside the far post. The 2-0 lead held up, putting Steiner in the championship game opposite Emerson, while WCA would play AACS for third place.
In the third place game, WCA got ahead early, but AACS kept at it, tying the game in the second half and then putting it away with two late goals, for a 3-1 win.
For the championship, there was some worry on the part of the Emerson kids: how would we cope without the strong legged field general, Thomas Halloran; without the speed and power of the injured Austin Sarns; without the defense and deft passing of William Kennedy; without the spirit and field sense of Elie Spoor. Two things gave reason for optimism. If you’ll recall, the first game of the season was played with ALL the 8th graders away at camp, and the Emerson 6th and 7th graders were able to handle WCA. Then, the final game of the regular season, against Steiner, a simple game plan worked to perfection, nullifying Steiner’s fast left mid and leaving them with the uncomfortable choice of having some other weapons on offense or some defense. In the regular season, they tried both, and neither worked. In the championship game, they leaned toward defense, but it wasn’t enough. With Elliot Beck and Mara Mueting taking turns running the Steiner left mid into the defensive wall that is Greta Downey, Steiner managed two shots on goal for the entire game, both from long distance and easily handled by Michael Pelosi. Sweeper Isabelle Crumm and right fullback Cammie Treiber stopped everything else, starting counter attacks up the sidelines via John Byers, Elliot and Mara, or turning it over to defensive center mid Biruk Tewodros, who would pick the appropriate gap in the Steiner defense to exploit, passing to either side or up the center to Vincent Pelosi. Saturday, Gabe Seir had the hot hand, well… hot foot, scoring twice in the first half and taking a lot of the wind out of the sails of the Steiner team. Vincent put the final nail in the coffin in the second half, scoring yet again, and bringing the score to its final total, 3-0.
The AACS coach commented, with admiration, on the speed and unselfishness with which Emerson moved the ball and attacked on defense, saying it was clearly on a level above the rest of the league. The referee, Mr. Elenio, noted how the three girl back line of Greta, Isabelle, and Cammie, was virtually unbeatable, putting enormous pressure on opposing offenses and always being there to cover and support each other.
Emerson finishes with 12 wins, 0 losses, 0 ties, their second undefeated season in a row, and their third consecutive championship.