Andover Soccer Association came up big at last month’s 31st annual North Andover Columbus Day Tournament, with four teams going home with champion titles.
In all, 12 Andover Soccer teams participated in the tournament, with each giving solid efforts on the field over the course of the three-day tournament. Four earned first-place finishes.
The Andover Cheetahs, the all-fifth-grade girls team, won the U12, Division 2 bracket. This first-year travel team captured the championship in thrilling fashion, with its 2-1 win being secured in the last 90 seconds of the game against the Tewksbury Rockets, which the Cheetahs had fallen to 2-0 in the preliminary rounds. Seemingly in control after two second-half goals, Tewksbury scored with less than 10 minutes left and continued pressing Andover’s defense seeking the game-tying score. A questionable late penalty kick had to be turned away to preserve the hard-fought victory. Andover coaches stressed it was a great team effort, with everyone giving 100 percent for the entire tournament to achieve their championship goal.
The Andover Lightning, the top sixth-grade girls team, went undefeated in the tournament, scoring 18 goals while giving up only four across five games to win the U12, Division 1 bracket. The Lightning exhibited an aggressive, team-oriented style of play with nine of its 14 players scoring goals. The final pitted the team against rival Quicksilver from North Andover, which the Lightning had not beaten in five previous matches. Andover jumped out to an early 1-0 lead and a second goal with eight minutes left put the Lightning in control 2-0. A late North Andover goal created an action-packed final two minutes with both teams playing their hearts out. Parents on both teams commented that they had not seen a more exciting ending to a game.
The Andover Vipers, the top sixth-grade boys team, stormed through the early rounds of the tournament with a 3-0 record, scoring 17 unanswered goals. The Vipers defeated Reading United, Georgetown United and Swampscott Blue Crew to advance to the playoffs. In the semifinal game, Andover played a rival North Andover team that it had not beaten in their last four match-ups. Andover came out strong to tally two goals in the first half, then maintained the momentum in the second half to beat North Andover 6-0. The Vipers then faced a very aggressive Boxford Wolverines team in the finals. The local contingent jumped out to an early 1-0 lead through the first half. Boxford fought back with two goals in the second half to take a 2-1 lead. Andover regained its composure to score two unanswered goals late in the game and notch a 3-2 victory to win the Division 1 flight.
The U12 Boys D2 United (Cobras) took home the tournament championship for the second consecutive year thanks to outstanding play by everyone on the team. During the early rounds, the United beat Billerica (4-0), Wakefield Warriors (4-2) and North Andover Steelers (6-1). Andover United won a hard semifinal match against the North Andover Hawks, 2-1, securing a return trip to the finals. In the championships, the local squad faced the Wakefield Warriors for a second time, claiming the title in decisive fashion with a 3-0 shutout. The win clinched an undefeated championship for the U12 Boys D2 Andover United team and coaching staff.