In the waning moments of the DC SCORES boys Capital Cup Championship game Tuesday evening, Lincoln coach Popsie Lewis found his team in a familiar spot.
Just a year earlier, Lincoln surrendered a lead to Oyster-Adams late in regulation before falling just short in a shootout. It was a tremendous game on both sides, yet a heartbreaker in the immediate aftermath for Lewis’ boys.
Now, again, with a steady rain pounding the turf field at Bell High School, Lincoln had been on the brink of the championship, only to relinquish a lead. Paul Public Charter School had shown tremendous fight to battle back from a 2-0 deficit and tie the game with less than 10 minutes remaining.
For a minute, the Lincoln players hung their heads. Their lead was gone, and with it all their momentum.
How would they respond?
How about in the most pulsating, dramatic fashion imaginable?
With the game seemingly destined for extra time — again — as the seconds ticked down, Larry, a sixth-grader who scored one of Lincoln’s first two goals, controlled the ball deep in Paul territory and, surrounded by defenders, somehow managed to slip it past Paul’s goaltender.
As the ball reached the net, the scoreboard clock read 0:00. It was a tad deceiving, as there were a couple of stoppage minutes to be played, but Lincoln didn’t let their final lead slip away.
Lincoln 3, Paul 2.
It was the conclusion to another phenomenal DC SCORES middle school season and Capital Cup Championship, which began in the late afternoon with the Friendship Edison Public Charter School girls team winning its second consecutive title by defeating Capital City Public Charter School — a new team to the league this fall.
“They surprised me a little bit with that because I thought they were going to get down on themselves like we did last year in the championship when we gave up our lead,” Lewis said of his team afterward, as pictures continued to be posed for in the rain. “But it showed a real testament to these kids and how far they’ve come.
“They didn’t give up, they were resilient, and little man Larry, he was the key in spearheading that resiliency.”
Larry, who previously participated in the DC SCORES elementary school league for Bancroft Elementary, just wanted to help his teammates bring the championship hardware across the street to Lincoln.
“It was exciting and fun,” he said. “It was mostly for the whole team, just to bring another trophy home.”
Trophies aside, Tuesday marked the culmination of DC SCORES’ most successful and widespread middle school season. The league grew to not only include the seven schools with DC SCORES programming, but 10 other teams as well.
On a typical Friday, there were nine middle school boys games throughout the city — a testament to the popularity of the only public middle school league in the District.
Friendship Edison is one of those teams that participates without having DC SCORES programming, and on Tuesday they again showed their appreciation for having the opportunity to compete as a school — not to mention win a gleaming trophy and player medals.
By the end of the night, though, the last people to leave the field were Lewis, the Lincoln players and a group of dedicated Lincoln alumni who hadn’t thought twice about braving the cold rain to watch their old school on the pitch.
A year ago, Robert R. was in goal for Lincoln against Oyster-Adams. On Tuesday, he was dishing out advice to Lincoln’s current goalkeeper and then cheering from the sideline. And he wasn’t the only one.
“It feels great,” Robert said afterward. “I was happy over there watching my team play.”
In Lewis’ mind, none of what Lincoln accomplished Tuesday night would have been possible if not for the support provided throughout the season and even away from the soccer field by past program participants.
“It’s a good following that they have going on here,” Lewis said. “I’m real proud of all these kids.”
It was a Lincoln community championship, capping off a successful DC SCORES soccer season — in communities throughout DC.
See photos from the Capital Cup on our Flickr page.