By Delila Keravuori
In a battle that came down to penalty kicks on June 25, South End Soccer’s most senior team comprised of 16 Boston Public High School students – known as the U19 South End Scores – won the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Tournament of Champions.
It was also the first tournament the team had ever competed in.
The team, run through a partnership started two years ago with South End Soccer—a non-profit organization designed to give urban youth the opportunity to play soccer no matter their experience or economic means, qualified for the tournament after winning the Boston Area Youth Soccer (BAYS) Section Championship. In preparation for the tournament, the team raised more than $4,000 through a GoFundMe page to cover the events’ three nights of transportation, hotel rooms, and meal costs.
Some 190 teams from across the state competed in the tournament, and the South End Scores were the only Boston team to win in any age group. Their game on June 25 ultimately came down to a shootout after both teams were tied at two goals in the end of regulation. After some intense moments, the South End team prevailed as the lone scorer in penalty kicks – winning 3-2.
“I was extremely impressed at how our boys maintained their composure and trusted each other, and most importantly, our goalkeeper, going into the shootout,” Coach Ethan Goldman said. “All throughout the tournament, and especially in the final, every member of the team was the epitome of sportsmanship and exactly the type of player that coaches dream of coaching.”
The team hosted a post-win celebration on Friday, July 14, at the Bruce C. Boiling Building in Dudley Square, where they were presented with citations from both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Mayor Martin Walsh.
“Many youth in urban areas are limited in their opportunities to play sports including soccer, especially at higher levels due to logical and financial barriers in the pay-to-play-sports model,” Caroline Foscato, founder and president of the board of directors said. “But this win is truly an example of what is possible for any child when folks collaborate and have a ‘can do’ attitude.”
South End Soccer provides 5 to 18-year-olds from the South End, Roxbury, Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods with a free, quality soccer program in collaboration with AmericaSCORES and other community partners.