St. George youth soccer team dominates regional tournament, will play for national championship

7 Elite Academy players and coaches pose on medals podium after winning regional Presidents Cup tournament, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 17, 2018. Back row, L-R: coach Mark Hunt, Kamden Rocha, Ben Cooper, Logan Amick, Kian Rocha, Oscar Quintero, Bryce Hubbard, Will Schroder, Andy Rich, Ashton Hunt, Benton Kemp, head coach Stuart Dewey and coach Sean Rocha. Front row, L-R: Brett Gonzalez, Ben Simister, Preston McArthur, Garrett Lewis, Xavi Flores, Sawyer Heaton, Kire Goulding, and Kirk Brown | Photo courtesy of 7 Elite Academy soccer team, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A youth boys soccer team from St. George recently won the regional Presidents Cup in Salt Lake and will soon head to national competition.

The team of boys age 17 and under, known as 7 Elite Academy 01B SG, went undefeated in six games in the tournament, defeating the Wolves FC team from Southern California in the championship match, 2-0 on June 17.

The 7 Elite team was the only Utah team to take first place at regionals and will next compete in the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup national championships to be held in Indianapolis July 10-15.

7 Elite Academy players rest after a game during the Presidents Cup regionals, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2018 | Photo courtesy of 7 Elite Academy soccer team, St. George News

Mark Hunt, assistant coach for 7 Elite, said he has been helping coach the team for the past eight years. With seasons starting in August and running until July most years, the team essentially plays year-round.

“The boys have won the Utah Presidents Cup the last three years in a row,” Hunt said, noting that the team has formerly been known by other names, such as Liverpool FC and Fire FC Premier.

“Two years ago, the team won regionals in Denver and went on to finish in fourth place at nationals in Oklahoma. This year, the boys are hungry to return and win nationals!”

7 Elite Academy outscored its opponents 25-6 during the regional tournament in Salt Lake. The weeklong event was sponsored and hosted by the Utah Youth Soccer Association. 7 Elite posted six decisive wins in six days, beating in succession, Hermiston United of Oregon, 8-2, South Tahoe FC United Red of Nevada, 7-1, Real Colorado Edge Select of Colorado, 2-0, Phoenix Premier FC of Arizona, 4-2, Boise Nationals Timber of Idaho, 2-1, and the Wolves FC of California, 2-0.

“The success on the pitch was a total team effort by all the boys,” Hunt said. “The team is so deep it is really hard sometimes to decide on the starting 11.  We have emphasized to the boys that it is about the team and not the individual. The boys have great chemistry on and off the pitch and that lends to our success.”

Top scorer for the tournament was 7 Elite’s Oscar Quintero with eight goals. He was joined by teammates Ben Simister, who scored five goals, and Xavi Flores, who contributed three.

7 Elite Academy players and coaches pose for a team photo during the Presidents Cup regionals, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2018 | Photo courtesy of 7 Elite Academy soccer team, St. George News

The 7 Elite Academy squad boasts tough defense as well, Hunt said.

“Bryce Hubbard was fantastic in the net and came up with some big saves and his voice grew stronger throughout the tournament. The back line played solid and left few chances for each team trying to score. The midfield and wings worked tirelessly to win possession in the middle of the pitch and attack.”

Hunt said the team is currently trying to raise funds to help pay for airfare, hotels and meals for the upcoming trip to Indiana. To make a donation or for more information about the team, contact assistant coach Sean Rocha via email.

“We are very proud of the boys and the hard work they put in on and off the field,” Hunt said. “The team’s total grade point average is 3.65. We have four players with 4.0. The boys come from great families and have tremendous support, or none of this would be possible at this high level. Thank you, parents.”

Hunt also thanked head coach Stuart Dewey and team managers Charity Rocha and Kendra McArthur for all their hard work on behalf of the team.

Hunt says 7 Elite’s players and coaches are optimistic about their chances at nationals.

“There’ll only be four teams playing for the national championship, including ourselves,” Hunt said, adding the other three qualifying teams are from Texas, New Jersey and Illinois.

Professional soccer player Wil Trapp recently sent a good luck video message to the 7 Elite Academy team, posting a 13-second clip on YouTube.

“I just want to wish congratulations to the Seven Elite 01 Boys on the regional championships and good luck at Indianapolis for the national championships, guys,” Trapp said in the video. A star player, Trapp is the current captain of the U.S. national men’s team and a midfielder for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew.

Antony Godfrey, the academy director at 7 Elite Academy, said he was delighted to obtain the congratulatory message from Trapp.

“Our 01 team has worked so hard to get to the national championships, so I wanted to give the guys a special pat on the back before they travel to Indianapolis,” Godfrey said, adding, “I personally want to thank Wil for taking the time out to send his best wishes. Having the current men’s national team captain reach out to our Academy and in particular to the 01 players, is testament to them and the good work being delivered here at 7 Elite Academy. I see Wil as a great example to all our players.”

Click here for 7 Elite Academy’s website.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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