Last year’s national championship youth soccer squad grew, expanded and won twice as many championships this year.
“The boys went back and defended their national title and won it again,” said coach Todd Sykes, who directs the U10 program at Palmetto United Futbol Club. “The bigger news is we created and trained a second team in a different age group and they also won it.”
A team of Lake Wylie and Fort Mill players last year won a Kick It 3v3 World Championships. They were 6- and 7-year-olds. This year many of the same players returned and went undefeated Jan. 18-20 in the Disney 3v3 Soccer Championships, a tournament unifying several past organizations into a final of more than 1,000 squads.
The ICFC Elite Boys finished 8-0 in the Elite Invitational Gold Division. Team members are Cory Lownds, Dalton Rook, Landon Sykes and Andy Young.
The ICFC Elite Juniors finished 7-0-1 in the Gold Division. Team members are Quinlan Hahn, Rocket Rita Rita, Sam and Will Sykes, and Avery Young.
According to Sykes, the teams combined for a 150-1 record in qualifying for and competing in the championships. Which isn’t to say the wins came easy. The Elite squad was down 7-3 with three minutes remaining in the final. They tied the game with three seconds remaining and won in overtime.
Matt Young is a Fort Mill dad of two players. His son Andy is one of the back-to-back winners.
“This has never been done before in the history of the tournament,” Young said.
The team prides itself not only on having skilled players, but on where those players call home.
“These are the best 8-year-olds in the nation playing soccer and they are all from this area,” Young said.
Sykes said there’s no limit to what local players can accomplish.
“The core of these boys have been invited by clubs overseas (to train), so I think you have yourself a group that will be the face of U.S. youth soccer not too far down the road and all from this area,” he said.