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Rucker All-Star team gets runner up in regional championship

Scott Wuergler (center), head coach, flanked by his assistant coaches, Wayne Grimes and Brian Hansen, pose with the 2014 Fort Rucker Youth Sports All-Star soccer team with their runner-up trophy after the State Regional Tournament in Troy Nov. 1. (Courtesy photo)

Scott Wuergler (center), head coach, flanked by his assistant coaches, Wayne Grimes and Brian Hansen, pose with the 2014 Fort Rucker Youth Sports All-Star soccer team with their runner-up trophy after the State Regional Tournament in Troy Nov. 1. (Courtesy photo)

Published: November 21, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2014) -- Thirteen Fort Rucker soccer players braved one of the coldest days of the year so far for a chance to be named champions, and although they didn’t take the title, they left the field with a champion’s spirit.

The Fort Rucker Youth Sports All-Star 9-and-under soccer team took the runner-up position in the Alabama State Regional Tournament in Troy Nov. 1, and Scott Wuergler, head coach, said although the team came in second, the players had a good time and left everything on the field.

“We played tough. I’m proud of the kids and how they played,” he said. “It was a great time and a great experience. Although they didn’t win the championship, I wanted the children to play hard and that’s what they did.”

The team players were Kourtney Rios, Matthew Siegler, Dylan Hansen, Isaiah Neal, Keely Hall, Owen Grimes, Shay Calderon, David McHugh, Jayson Altieri, AJ Harris, Thomas VonEschenback, Robert Olson and Dilan Baugh.

The assistant coaches included Wayne Grimes and Brian Hansen, who Wuergler said provided invaluable help throughout the season and tournament.

The tournament was an all-day affair pitting eight teams against each other in the frigid temperatures. But despite the cold, the Fort Rucker team endured to make it to the final game.

The team’s first game was at 9 a.m. when they faced the Ozark team, which ended in a 0-0 tie after regulation time, said Wuergler. Since the game ended in a tie, it went to penalty kicks.

“For the penalty kicks, it’s five against five, so each team picks their five players to shoot, and at the end of that, whichever team has the most goals wins,” said the head coach. “If it’s still tied at the end of that, then it goes to six shooters, then so on and so forth. We finally won on the eighth shooter. It was a lot of build up and suspense and our goalie (Grimes) did a great job.”

The following game was against Eufaula, and the Fort Rucker players fared much better in this game by scoring two goals in the first half and two goals in the second half to win, 4-1.

Still cold with the wind blowing hard, the team went into their final game against Dothan, who is known to win the tournament every year. The Rucker team was unable to pull out a win, but the players gave it their all, said Wuergler.

“I wanted them to leave everything on the field and not regret anything,” he said. “And that’s what they did. I’d rather them go down in a blaze of glory, trying their best and having a good time doing it, than to be scared to give it their all.”

The road to the tournament wasn’t easy, and for a lot of the children who hadn’t played soccer together as a team, it was a tough experience, said the head coach.

The coaches chose the team by deciding who were the best players from the regular season – looking for the biggest, strongest and fastest players.

The players also had to get used to playing with more players on the field as their regular season was played as six-on-six and the tournament was played 11-on-11.

“We had two weeks of practice, six practices total, and it took a lot to bring the teams together,” said Wuergler. “None of the children had played together before the beginning of the season … and the children had to get used to the bigger field.”

Although the sport is competitive, Wuergler said the biggest emphasis was on fun.

“I just wanted them to have fun. There was lots of laughing, lots of joking and that’s what I stressed,” he said. “I was strict when I needed to be, but it was more about having fun and getting them to enjoy themselves.”

The team was invited to the state tournament in Opelika, but due to logistics and schedule conflicts, the team was unable to attend.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/138774/

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