While the best soccer teams in the world dueled in the stadiums of Brazil this weekend, the best youth soccer teams in Massachusetts were competing in their own knockout matches at the state Tournament of Champions. The tournament is the culmination of the spring travel soccer season, featuring the best teams in each league across the state.
At the end of the weekend, one team was left standing in the under-18 bracket: the MV United boys. The team played five games in two days, scoring 13 goals while allowing none en route to earning five wins. They won the championship game against Wilmington, 2-0, capping an 18-1-1 season.
It’s the second time in the past three years the team has walked away as state champions at the tournament. In 2012, when the group was playing in the under-16 bracket (despite being an under-15 team), they earned their first title, defeating Dorchester 2-1 in the title game.
“We’ve all sort of invested in this together,” assistant coach Matt Poole said on Monday.
Mr. Poole and head coach Esteban Aranzabe, who was recently named the head coach of the high school boys’ team, have been coaching the group since they were playing in the under-11 bracket.
The lineup hasn’t changed much since then. The core of the team is a group of 13 rising high school seniors. Three recent high school graduates, Kane Araujo, Sam Entner and Ben Wadleigh, and one rising junior, striker Jason Lages, round out the squad (for most of the season the team also hosted an exchange student from Spain). The high school team saw considerable success on its own last year, posting an undefeated regular season.
As the spring season got underway, the players relied on their years of team-building and training to carry them through the schedule. In addition to eight regular season games, they also took part in the Needham Showcase on Memorial Day weekend, playing five games before taking a 1-0 loss in the final match. Over the course of the season, they scored 71 goals while allowing just five. Keeper Matt Stone began working with new assistant coach Ryan White this season.
“These guys are like warriors,” Mr. Poole said. “You can be a sound technical team, but to put in the effort to get this type of result takes [a little more].” On Sunday, he said, the team played two full 90-minute games.
The players “committed a long time ago, and they’ve stayed committed,” he said, crediting the team cohesion in large part to the efforts of Mr. Aranzabe.
“He’s been able to draw that out of them, to get them to sign on and believe we can do this,” Mr. Poole said.