Playing as the "Tiger Sharks," five local boys participated in the Kick-It 3v3 Soccer Shootout World Championships on Jan. 19 and 20 at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Florida. George Mannix from Longmeadow, Connor Hicks from Monson and Stephen Diefenderfer, Andrew Fidalgo and Travis Van Brewer from Wilbraham competed in the U8 Boys Open division in a field of 55 teams from across the country.
In their first game, the boys were edged 4 - 3 by Indiana's Super 6, the third-ranked team in the country coming into the tournament. The team rebounded with a resounding 8 - 4 defeat of the Slidell Hat Trick from Louisiana before closing out the first day of play with a 6 - 6 tie against FC Dallas '99 from Texas.
The boys opened the second day with their best game of the tournament, an 8 - 5 victory over the Carbon Mayhem from Pennsylvania. Their 2 - 1 - 1 record in pool play qualified the team for the single-elimination playoffs.
Facing the eventual fifth place finisher, the Sharks of Florida, in a hotly-contested Shark-on-Shark battle, the crew trailed 6 - 1 at halftime before rallying in the second half, falling a few goals short in an 8 - 5 defeat.
The boys, who qualified for the national tournament on the basis of their performance at a local tournament in Hartford and a regional tournament in Buffalo this past summer, had a great time testing their skills and teamwork against the best in the country.