Early in the second half of their game with Maryland, the U13 Philly Boys ODP Team, one of two that made the trip to Williamsburg, trailed 4-0. The result was out of reach. Or so most everyone in attendance thought.
Then the Philly boys got a couple of breaks. Maryland's keeper fumbled a ball that led to a goal. An errant cross went clear into the net moments later. Pretty soon it was a 4-3 game and there was real belief among a group that was dejected just minutes before.
The comeback bid ultimately came up short, but it showed what the Virginia Friendlies were all about. This is a chance for the kids to play with nothing to lose. Head coach Chris DePeppe walked across the field smiling after the frantic final ten minutes.
"That was fun," he said.
DePeppe was far from alone in his assessment. Eleven coach buses filled with more than 400 players departed the Springfield Mall at dawn on Friday. By the end of the four-plus hour ride they were singing. Or at least, the U14 Girls bus was. The players engaged in a makeshift karaoke session that set the tone for the weekend.
Not everyone won all their games. Not every team even won one. But most everyone enjoyed their stay and got better at the same time.
The U13 Lanco Boys toured Colonial Williamsburg and completed a scavenger hunt in the process. The Philly Boys explored historical Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement on American soil.
The Philly Girls enjoyed another pillar of American culture: laser tag.
Still, there was soccer to be played and Eastern Pennsylvania teams played it well. The U16 Boys, after two nights in a hotel, defeated New Jersey 3-0 Sunday morning before heading home. The Philly Girls, prior to laser tag, added to the excitement with a 3-1 victory.
It was a bonding trip, and it was a soccer trip. The next time the ODP teams get together they'll have something to talk about on and off the field.
We look forward to it.