Rush Select kicked off its 2016 campaign at the Desert Classic Tournament in Phoenix, Arizona.
Seven teams, with players from dozens of Rush clubs, played 25 matches and came out with three titles and a runners-up medal.
The youngest teams, the U13s, experienced the Rush Select tournament environment for the first time.
U13 RUSH SELECT - CHAMPIONS
U14 RUSH SELECT - CHAMPIONS
U15 RUSH SELECT - CHAMPIONS
U15 RUSH SELECT - Runner Up
The U13 Boys, coached by Virginia’s Chris Panayiotou, went 2-1 in group play, narrowly missing the final after a close result to the eventual champion. Although they ran out of steam on Sunday morning, they saw what it is like to come together as a group in a short amount of time and make the most of the limited minutes of training and play.
The U13 Girls were dominant in group play, earning two wins and a tie, before winning their semifinal 3-0 and prevailing in the final 1-0. Anniston Flake (Arkansas) scored the decisive goal for the U13s on their way to the Desert Classic title, under the guidance of Michigan’s Matt Saul.
Other champion teams were the U14 Girls and the U15 Boys.
Russell Finch’s (Colorado) side had a few blowout wins in group play before topping Sereno on penalties in the final match.The U15 Boys, with Matt Mittelstaedt (Virginia) at the helm, won all four games of round robin play.
“We started off with a challenge because our first round robin game felt like the final; the other team was really solid. The first game of any event is usually an adjustment game for our Select teams but I’m proud of how well the boys stepped up and made our road to the title a little easier the rest of the weekend,” said Mittelstaedt.
The U15 Girls, low in numbers but not in heart, gritted out a 0-0 tie in Game 1 before winning big their next two games. The team, coached by Rush Select Director Brian Lux (Pikes Peak), fell 1-0 in the final, earning a runners-up finish.
Rounding out the teams were the U14 Boys, coached by Erick Garcia (Florida), and the U16 Boys, coached by Chad Deering (Dallas). Neither team advanced out of the group stage but the teams got to play some good soccer and experience the Rush Way as players and supporters.
Apart from the team successes, Saturday night’s Game of the Day was a highlight for every Rush player and fan at Desert Classic. To no one’s surprise, Finch led the cheering section in Rush songs as the U14 Boys put on a show on the way to a 6-1 win. The supporters erupted in enthusiasm with each goal, creating an exciting atmosphere that showcased the spirit of Rush nation.
“I am really proud of our team and coaches,” said Lux. “They represented our organization and their home clubs very well. This is the best showing we have ever had at Desert Classic and all credit goes to the players here, the Select staff, and the players’ coaches back home.”
Rush Select is back in action at this weekend’s Presidents Day Tournament. In the meantime, enjoy the video created by Chelsea Mojica (Virginia) and Kaylah Wanna (Colorado) of the U15 Girls during Saturday’s Game of the Day.
For a play-by-play of Rush Select at Desert Classic, search #RushSelectDCT on Twitter and visit the Rush Select Facebook page.