The King’s Warriors Soccer Club participated in the 10th straight National Association of Christian Athletes Fall Soccer Tournament in Dayton, TN, November 3-5. This year’s tournament had several changes. No pool play was held, teams were assigned to divisions, and played one full length game per day.
Playing in Division 3, the King’s Warriors first took on Family Christian Academy from Orlando, FL. The Lions scored first, but Aaron Smith drew the Warriors level. But the size and speed of the Florida team, plus “tournament jitters,” prevented the warriors from performing the way they should have. Despite a second half goal from Chance Blevins, the Warriors fell 8-2.
On Day 2 the King’s Warriors took on Somerset (KY) Christian Academy, a perennial powerhouse that should not have been playing in Division 3. They had lost to Cumberland (PA) Christian, the eventual D-3 champions, the previous day by a score of 3-1. They needed to defeat the Warriors 6-0 in order to advance to the divisional championship. When looking at the King’s Warriors roster, it would be easy to consider them a weak opponent. The Warriors had only 14 players, and 7 of the 14 were girls. The team was very young; the seven girls included one 10th grader, two 9th graders, one 8 th grader, and three 12 year olds. The Warriors goalkeeper is a 9th grader, and the 14th player on the roster was a 10 year old boy. But the Warriors made up their minds they would not roll over, even while facing a far superior opponent. They battled Somerset with incredible resolve from the opening kickoff, and held them scoreless to the half. The constant barrage finally found chinks in the Warriors’ armor, and the final score was 4-0, but it was undoubtedly one of the best 4-0 losses the King’s Warriors ever played. The other team, their coaches, and all spectators were very complimentary after the game.
Game Day 3 pitted the King’s Warriors against FCA Baltimore Team 2, a group with which the Warriors have become good friends. The Warriors had pretty much run out of gas the previous day, and had little left in reserve. The technical proficiency of the Baltimore team took effect early. Aaron Smith was able to score in the first half to get the team back in the game, but was injured on the play. He struggled to complete the game, but still scored again in the second half. Late in the game, Baltimore led 5-2, and the Warriors put in all their substitutes to get some playing time. Seeing this, the Baltimore coach made a great sporting gesture when he called off his defense against 10 y/o Noah Stoneback. Realizing his opportunity, the diminutive Stoneback advanced toward the goal. His first shot bounced off the post, but he settled the rebound and put it away to undoubtedly become the youngest scorer ever at NACA. Both teams, and some spectators, mobbed the field to carry him triumphantly on their shoulders back to the center circle. The game ended 5-3.
The King’s Warriors did not come home empty handed. The other teams voted them to have the Sportsmanship Award, which was well deserved. Jayden Cox, playing his last eligible year at NACA, was named to the All Tournament Team for his outstanding defensive play. Other members of this year’s NACA team were Aaron Smith, Chance Blevins, Carlie Michael, Sarah Okes, Jasmine Winkler, Marley Stoneback, Delilah Taylor, Aedan Bailey, Ike Naylor, Jake Dickens, Adalee Blevins, Chloe Blevins, and Noah Stoneback. Coaches included Jon Windle, Will Smith, Andrew Smith, and James Blume.