The DPL Summit Tournament kicked off with a bang in Tampa, Florida. Teams from all over the country came together to compete for the coveted title of champions. After a grueling 10-hour journey from Alabama through Georgia, we arrived in Tampa at 1 am to chilly temperatures.
The first game was against the Santa Barbara Soccer Club/Central Coast Academy 10G DPL team from soccer powerhouse California. It was our first national level tournament and both teams struggled to find their footing on the field. Our players were a bit nervous facing off against a Californian team for the first time, but the game proved to be a good test for everyone. After a half of adjusting and feeling each other out, we realized that our opponents were not as formidable as we had imagined. We pushed our offense forward and even had two fantastic chances to take the lead. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on either of them. With just three minutes left in the second half, Sommer failed to make a critical touch with the ball at midfield, giving our opponents a chance to break away and score a goal. To make matters worse, the Californian team took advantage of another turnover right after the kickoff and scored again, making the final score 2-0 in their favor.
According to tournament rules, once a team loses a game, they are eliminated from the running for the championship. The remaining games become consolation matches. It was a tough loss, but as they say, growing pains are a part of the process. After the game, the entire team went to a great seafood restaurant in downtown Tampa to have a team dinner and enjoy a beautiful bayside evening together.
Tampa Trip Day 1 | DPL Summit Tournament
On the second day of the tournament, our team faced off against the Arizona Soccer Club 10G DPL Thompson, who also suffered a loss on the first day. However, our team encountered a few obstacles during the first half of the game. Some of the players had disagreements with the coach’s tactics, which led to a lack of unity and coherence in our play. Taking advantage of our disadvantageous situation, the opposing team managed to take the lead. In the second half, our goalkeeper and defenders failed to coordinate their defense against a corner kick, which resulted in another quick goal for the other team. Soon after, they scored yet another goal, leaving us with a daunting 0:3 deficit.
Despite this setback, our players refused to accept the result and instead rallied together to put up a fight. Through sheer determination and a bit of luck, we scored our first goal, quickly followed by a handball by the opposing team in the penalty area, which we converted into a goal to bring the score to 2:3. In the final moments of the game, our aggressive play forced the opposing defense into making a mistake, and Sommer made a spectacular goal to tie the game at 3:3. The crowd erupted with excitement, and even the parents were on their feet. In the end, we won the game through a penalty shootout, securing an epic victory through the power of teamwork.
After the game, we saw coach Bobo, the coach of Triangle United 10G DPL team, on the sidelines. Last year, when our mother received an professor position offer from UNC-Chapel Hill, we were even considering moving to North Carolina to pursue our soccer dreams. However, at that time, we had just passed the tryouts for HVS, and we were unsure if we could join a DPL team at the same level in North Carolina. Our father even contacted coach Bobo to ask about tryout information. Ultimately, to ensure our stable development, our mother declined the offer from UNC and chose to stay at UAB to teach. Therefore, coach Bobo, who we had lost to 0:5 at the end of last year, knew who we were. When coach Bobo saw Sommer’s goal, he jokingly told our father that if we ever changed our minds about moving to Chapel Hill, we should contact him because he believed we had the ability to join his team. We are grateful for coach Bobo’s recognition and will continue to work hard to improve our skills.
After the game, the whole team headed to Clearwater Beach to play and spend a delightful afternoon together. In the evening, our father even allowed us to eat Frozen Yogurt on our way back to the hotel, which was a rare treat as we have been strictly adhering to our athlete’s nutritional plan.
Tampa Trip Day 2 | DPL Summit Tournament
On the third day of the tournament, which was also the final game of the National tournament, the script was eerily similar to yesterday’s game, but this time, we were on the losing end. Our opponent was Central Washington Sounders G10 Navy DPL team from Washington state. The start of game was particularly smooth, thanks to Madison’s two goals that gave us an early lead. However, just before the end of the first half, our opponents scored a beautiful long-range shot from the midfield to bring the score to 1-2.
In the second half, we clearly dominated the game and had several excellent opportunities to score, but we squandered them all. In soccer, if you waste your chances recklessly, you’re bound to lose. Sure enough, our opponents equalized through a penalty kick, and they even had a chance to take the lead in the dying moments of the game, but the ball hit the crossbar. Finally, we lost the game in a penalty shootout. Interestingly, Leah missed the penalty that Sydnie was originally supposed to take, but her shyness and indecisiveness led her to pass the opportunity to Leah, who was more willing to take risks and go for it.
After the game, before we embarked on our return journey, we visited our mom’s college friend and had an unforgettable hot pot meal together.
Tampa Trip Day 3 | DPL Summit Tournament
Through this unforgettable tournament, we competed with three strong teams and exposed many problems that we don’t normally see. But at the same time, it also gave us confidence. This excellent experience will undoubtedly help us successfully complete the remaining league fixtures and ultimately qualify for this summer’s National Playoffs in Cincinnati, Ohio.