Ann Arbor’s Michigan Tigers headed to Denver earlier this month to play in one of the top soccer tournaments in the country. Premier SuperCopa is an invitation tournament which includes the top 24 teams from across the country. Each team plays three games and then are divided into gold, silver and bronze brackets at which time all games are elimination. After three games, the Tigers were only one goal away from the gold bracket.
The Tigers, who recently won the Michigan State Cup, were placed in the silver bracket and won games against teams from Texas, Southern California and Florida. Unfortunately, the team lost in the finals in overtime.
“Proud is an understatement of how all the parents feel of these boys,” says Stephanie Zabinko, one of those proud parents. “They battled heat as the temperatures were upwards of 100 degrees and the obvious change in altitude (5,480 feet vs. 839 feet in Ann Arbor).”
As with most trips, there was a hiccup. Henry Wong-Foy had an unwelcomed trip to the emergency room with the fear of a broken hand. Luckily, he was OK and was back in action two hours later and dominating the midfield.
As with any great team, this was a collaboration. Colton Swan, Tyson McCoy, Ben Solomon and Ren Sylvester were the lead goal scorers and demonstrated their gteat skills by weaving in and out of many tough defenders and running with such determination up and down the field even when fatigue was visible.
Preston Zabinko, Benny Rolla-Mullis and Noah Silkworth continued their iron wall of defense and stood up to lightning fast forwards and midfielders and played without subbing for the entire tournament.
The outside midfielders of Keegan Cahill, Luke Zogaib and Sayre Lotstutter chased down every single ball. Max Adox was never afraid to become airborne to save a goal.
“Not one single kid on this team gave less than 110 percent,” Zabinko says. “Words cannot describe their effort and determination.”
This year, the Tigers crossed one goal after another off their list. First it was being invited back to Copa, next was winning the Junior State Cup championship, then they made it past the first elimination game. No one had the expectation of winning two more games and reach the finals.
“This competition is literally the best teams in the country, every single game pushed the kids to their limit and also their best,” says Zabinko. “But it shouldn’t be a surprise that the boys went so far in the tournament.”
Of course, plenty of fun was kicked into the trip, including simulated skydiving, basketball games, swimming and an afternoon of video games.
On Sunday night when the tournament was over and reflection began, the phrases “the boys are remarkable,” “what a year,” and “they worked so hard” were repeated over and over.
Here are the game results from the 2018 Michigan Tigers at the Premier SuperCopa:
Michigan Tigers 1, Legends FC 1
Michigan Tigers 4, FC wichita academy 0
Michigan Tigers 3, FC Dallas youth academy 4
Michigan Tigers 5, Dallas Texans Res 3
Michigan Tigers 5, Orlando City YS 3
Michigan Tigers 2, FC dallas youth academy 3