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Monday, June 18, 2012

Volkswagen Group of America wins 10th annual DC SCORES Cup

View SCORES Cup photos on Flickr.

It was only appropriate that a day full of unpredictable twists, turns and outcomes came down to one final kick. 

As the Volkswagen Group of America player made contact with the ball, the Booz Allen Hamilton goalie dove ... in the right direction. He had guessed correctly. 

But the ball had too much force, too much zing, and it whizzed by him, setting off a rather tame celebration by Team Volkswagen -- for that they can be forgiven; it was their eighth game of the day. 

Volkswagen's victory capped off the largest DC SCORES Cup in the tournament's history, featuring 26 teams made up of companies and firms from the greater DC area competing on the turf fields at the Maryland SoccerPlex. 

The tournament was sponsored by D.C. United -- which provided tickets to an upcoming game to all 400-plus participants -- and DrinkMore Water, which made a large donation to keep participants hydrated throughout the long day. 

Volkswagen's team members will be honored during halftime of the June 30 United game for winning the tournament. 

Thanks to teams' entry fees and the first-ever individual fundraising contest for team members, the SCORES Cup raised over $80,000 for DC SCORES programming. One hundred percent of the event's proceeds directly benefit the over 800 low-income District youth served by the program.

Volkswagen wasn't the only winner. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP won the Fair Play Award for exhibiting the best sportsmanship throughout the day -- after all, it's just a game! And by the night before the tournament, Venable LLP was crowned the winner of the team fundraising contest by donating $5,160 -- $1,160 above the base entry fee -- and awarded an Amazon Kindle Fire. 

Tournament participants got a chance to learn more about DC SCORES during the morning in between games. With everyone sitting and standing on the edge of one of the fields, Executive Director Amy Nakamoto and DC SCORES soccer coach Adwoa Blankson-Wood talked about the impact of the program. They were introduced by tournament host committee member Barton Bishop of Sport and Spine Rehab, and the brief program was closed by board of directors member and Cresa Washington DC player Chris Finley. 

Sport and Spine Rehab did a stellar job for the second consecutive year providing medical attention to tournament participants and also ran away with $100 in Modell's Sporting Goods gift cards after easily making the most unique donations leading up to tournament day (33!).

Many DC SCORES partners contributed to the tournament, including: Modell's, which donated water bottles and bags as giveaways for participants; Starbucks, which donated coffee and also fielded a team for the second straight year; and Occasions Caterers, who provided large bagged lunches of wraps, cookies, fruit, teas and water -- and also made it to the quarterfinals in their first tournament appearance.

The sun was out well before the action began and continued to blaze the fields at the SoccerPlex, but participants were able to sit in the shade of 10 tents set up adjacent to the fields in between their 25-minute games and get re-energized. Perfect Settings made this possible by donating 20 tables and 150 chairs for the event.

And the soccer, from 9am until Volkswagen hoisted the trophy at 5pm, was terrific. As many long-time DC SCORES Cup participants said afterward, they had never seen such parity. With each team guaranteed five short games in group play, most of the eight playoff teams weren't determined until early in the afternoon -- as the four groups were extremely competitive. 

DC SCORES coach Adwoa Blankson-Wood.
Marriott, the defending champion, was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sutherland, a team that didn't make the playoffs in 2011. The same could be said of Volkswagen, which defeated District Sports in extra time and then Sutherland on a last-minute goal to reach the championship game.

There they faced off against Booz Allen, the runner-up in 2011. In a well-played, defensive game, neither team could manage a goal during 25 minutes of regulation and 5 minutes of extra time. Thus, the Cup came down to penalty kicks, with Volkswagen persevering 4-3.

Putting a cherry on top of the most competitive, dramatic and engaging SCORES Cup to date. 

See you in 2013.

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