ORLANDO, Florida — While most families were situated around the dinner table, in front of the television and doing some early holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend, one group of dedicated soccer players and their parents took the ride on I-95 south for the 2016 Disney Soccer Showcase at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
With a few teams from the Wilmington Hammerheads Youth organization representing the Port City, one local group rose above the rest of its competition to claim top spot in its division.
The Wilmington Hammerheads Girls 12-and-under White Team dominated its opponents to claim first-place in the 16-team tournament over the three-day event.
“The Disney Soccer Showcase is known nation-wide as one of, if not the best youth soccer tournament in the country,” said Carson Porter, Wilmington Hammerheads Youth Executive Director. “For this group of girls to go down and win the event is a huge deal. Craig Johnson, who has been involved with soccer in this community for 15-plus years, coaches this team and does an amazing job.
“Winning games is never the top priority at our club. Our job is to teach the game, be positive role models and help these kids develop as players and as people,” Porter said. “This win is a result of Craig and his team’s hard work and dedication.”
After receiving an invite to Disney as one of the top ranked teams in North Carolina, Wilmington Hammerheads 12U White was placed in one of four, four-team round robin style brackets. Each team played three games over Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25-26, with the top side from each bracket earning a spot in the semifinals.
“One of the things that is important to our club is that we get competitive games and put our players in situations where they will grow,” Porter added. “This tournament with excellent teams and a first class facility accomplished this goal. Winning the 2005 trophy is great but every team that went down got better and that makes the event a success for all three teams.”
In its opening contest against Pinecrest Premier 2005 Blue out of Florida, Wilmington rolled to a 5-1 result. The Hammerheads followed with a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay United 2005 to close day one of the tournament with a perfect 2-0 mark.
On Saturday, Wilmington kept up its strong play with a 4-1 victory against United FA 05 Red from Georgia to clinch first-place by earning nine total points, outscoring its three opponents 11-3 during pool play.
In the semifinals, Wilmington Hammerheads 12U White matched up against an in-state foe and defeated Wake FC 05 Blue out of the Raleigh area 2-1 to advance to the final match of the showcase.
The championship contest saw the local girls square off with a club team from Atlanta, but nothing could stop the Hammerheads as Wilmington pulled out a 2-1 triumph to grab gold at Disney. The championship marked the first time a girls team brought home a first-place trophy for the Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC organization.
Led by Coach Jordan Phillips, the 2003 Boys Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC team also brought home some hardware, taking third place in their bracket. The 2003 Girls Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC team also coached by Craig Johnson played in a very tough bracket and went 1-1-1 during the memorable trip.
Below is the roster for the first place Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC 2005 White Team:
- Bailey Arkinson
- Avery Barr
- Grace Ensign
- Ellie Farrell
- Sophia Galbraith
- Ella Johnson
- Sophia Johnson
- Alexis Miller
- Carlie Moroz
- Avery Reese
- Isabella Serrano
- Micaiah Wilson
- Ellie Zimmerman