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Woodford Royal-ty: WYSA U10 Royals finish 2nd at Kohl’s America Cup

THE WYSA U10 ROYALS recently finished in second place in the Kohl’s America Cup soccer tournament, which was held Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, in Elizabethtown, Team members shown are, from left, Elizabeth Jackson, Luke Thompson, Ryan Mitchell, Lindsay Thomas, Nicholas Ruzenne, Lilliya Tipton, Bailey Fouts, Emerson Lavin, Landon Turner and Diego Leon; back row, (with hat), Thomas Mims (coach). Not pictured: Hailey Disciplina. (Photo by David Stephens)

The Kohl’s America Cup soccer tournament was played the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15, in Elizabethtown, and it was a particularly fruitful tournament for a team from Woodford County. The WYSA U10 Royals brought home second place in the U10 “Messi” Division of the Kohl’s Cup, as they finished up a 10-1 season. After going a perfect 8-0 against WYSA competition in the regular season, the Royals won a pair of Saturday games at the tournament before falling in the championship on Sunday morning, 5-3. “It’s been a great run for this group of kids and I couldn’t possibly be any prouder of them,” said coach Thomas Mims. “When we’ve been at full strength the past two seasons, we’ve only lost two games. In the fall, we came in third in the Commonwealth Cup, and we finished second in the Kohl’s Cup. It’s pretty remarkable when you consider that we only won a single game last spring, and now they’ve finished second place in the state. I had high hopes for this group, but to see them come this far is more than I could have ever asked from them.” Those high hopes stemmed from a regular season in WYSA that saw the Royals go undefeated. That unbeaten streak survived the first two games on Saturday, as the Royals picked up two wins and earned themselves a spot in the championship. In the early game Saturday, the Royals got out to an early 4-0 lead over River Valley (Louisville) before a voracious comeback evened the score at 4-4. With less than three minutes to go, the Royals leading scorer, Diego Leon, navigated through multiple defenders before finding the net to seal a 5-4 Royals’ victory. “Diego was a hero for us in that game,” said Mims. “He had an unlucky own goal that helped the other team get back into it and his head was down. I told him we’d need him if we were going to win and that I believed in him. Our kids told him the same sort of thing and he really fed off their positivity. We’ve been so fortunate to have a group that cares about each other enough to help each other like that.” The Saturday afternoon game proved to be a less intense outing, as the Royals routed the opposition from Elizabethtown 8-4. Luke Thompson led the way with two goals in each half. The team also got goal or assist contributions from Leon, Emerson Lavin, Landon Turner and Nicholas Ruzenne. The defense was also a strong point, as Ruzenne, Bailey Fouts and Lindsay Thomas held an explosive offense at bay, while Ryan Mitchell and Lilliya Tipton shared the goalkeeper duties. Mims noted, “The second game was probably our best collective effort all season. We got contributions from everybody against a really good team. I think eating lunch as a team between games brought us all together and helped our chemistry. We played for each other. We knew that if we won out in the Saturday games, we’d get medals and trophies no matter how Sunday morning turned out.” Sunday morning, the Louisville Tsunami were able to put an end to the Royals’ perfect run, winning 5-3. “We got behind early and just couldn’t close the gap,” said Mims. “We kept fighting though and that’s the biggest compliment a coach can get from his team - that they play hard for you. It was 3-1 at halftime and they could have packed it in. They didn’t though. Elizabeth Jackson and Ryan Mitchell were working hard to keep everyone positive. They really kept me going in that second half, too. I’ll never forget them keeping me up even when things weren’t going so great. I’ll never forget this whole group or what they’ve done. “We’re going to let everyone have the trophy for a little while over the summer, and then we’re going to put it in El Tapatio for the world to see. I want to show off their hard work however I can.” (Information provided by Thomas Mims)

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