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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Friendship Edison, Oyster-Adams win thrilling Capital Cup Championship games

A casual observer couldn’t have asked for two more exciting, dramatic, down-to-the-wire soccer games to conclude the DC SCORES middle school season Tuesday afternoon.

Playing under the lights at Bell High School, Friendship Edison held on to defeat Paul 2-1 in the girls title game for its first Capital Cup title. Then, in heart-racing action, the Oyster-Adams boys team used a late goal against Lincoln to tie the game 2-2 and force penalty kicks -- and finally won the drawn-out shootout on its sixth kick.

And with that, an enthralling almost three hours of soccer concluded. Not everybody could win, of course, but all four teams could undoubtedly be called winners considering the way they played.

The girls championship pitted two teams who don’t have DC SCORES programming at their schools but are grateful for the opportunity to play in the District’s only public soccer league for middle schools. You could tell how much each team relished the opportunity to play in such a game by the intensity the players showed.

“It means everything ,” said Friendship Edison coach Mensa Prescott. “We’ve only been doing this for four years and we have (previously) not been close to going to the playoffs or the championship. It means the world to me, and my girls know that.

“They worked really, really hard the whole year. They came out from the jump and said that we were going to win the championship, and they did exactly what they said they were going to do by working hard.”

As the girls battled for possession of the ball, there were collisions on the field that could be heard on the sidelines. There were also great skilled plays. Trailing 1-0 with just less than 20 minutes remaining, a Paul player beautifully centered an indirect kick to where Saba A., who played for DC SCORES’ MacFarland team last year, somehow scored the ball amidst a sea of players.

Six minutes later, Friendship Edison retook the lead on a penalty kick following a handball. Paul had a few chances deep in Friendship Edison’s end in the final minutes, but couldn’t quite knot up the score. Paul showed incredible energy and spirit throughout the game, playing without any subs on the large Bell field.

As the girls teams were receiving their trophies and congratulating each other, the boys game got underway. Played at a fast, up-and-down pace, the first 25 minutes were plagued by several offsides calls before Oyster-Adams chopped in a deep, bouncing shot for a 1-0 lead.

About midway through the second half – after its goalkeeper made several saves to keep it in the game – Lincoln used a short, nifty pass to spring free a player, who easily tied up the game. Then with less than 7 minutes remaining, a loose ball deep in Oyster-Adams’ end was kicked in the net by Lincoln for a 2-1 advantage.

It looked like that might be the final score, but Oyster-Adams kept fighting and gained the equalizer with less than 2 minutes remaining on a pretty move and shot.

“It was really about keeping our heads straight, and if we lost that was not going to be a big deal,” said Oyster-Adams coach Carlos Cardenas.”We were going for the victory, and they fought.

“It really shows how these kids persevere.”

When the game ended 2-2, it was time for penalty kicks to determine the boys champion. With a crowd of peers, parents and community members anxiously watching from the sideline, the teams exchanged goals and near misses – neither able to gain an advantage.

After both teams’ fifth kickers scored to tie the shootout at 3-3, it went to sudden death. After Lincoln’s kick sailed just wide right, Oyster-Adams’ goalkeeper Dennys P. – who had been too nervous to take a shot during the shootout’s five kicks -- didn’t hesitate to step up to the ball and calmly pound it into the net’s lower left corner, finally bringing to an end a memorable day of soccer.

As DC SCORES Executive Director Amy Nakamoto gathered the boys teams to award the championship medals, she said, “This has been, by far, the most competitive Capital Cup Championship ever.”

The play on the field spoke for itself.

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