WEST NEWBURY — After a dominant showing in the regular season, the Pentucket Avalanche U-14 Boys Soccer team swept through this past weekend’s Massachusetts Tournament of Champions to win the state championship and finish the season undefeated.
The Avalanche never trailed at any point during the tournament, allowing just one goal in five games against some of the best teams in the state. Pentucket capped off the weekend with an exclamation point, blowing out Sharon 6-0 in the state championship game to finish the year 15-0-1.
“We had a great season. The boys really started to gel together around the last quarter of the season and they never looked back,” said head coach Scott Blanchard. “They were a confident group and they played really hard every game.”
To qualify for the MTOC, the Avalanche first had to win the Essex County Youth Soccer Association Championship, which proved to be one of the most difficult challenges the team faced all season. After receiving a bye and beating Lynn 5-1 in the semifinals, Pentucket came back from a late deficit to beat North Andover 2-1 in overtime to win the championship.
“That was a hard-fought tournament,” Blanchard said. “We played North Andover in the championship and the boys were down 1-0 really late in the game, and we tied it with 30 seconds left to force overtime and we scored the game winning goal with 30 seconds left in overtime.”
With their spot in the MTOC secure, Blanchard and his team of 13 players made the hour-long trek down I-495 to the massive Massachusetts Youth Soccer complex in Lancaster, where the MTOC was held.
As in the World Cup, the first phase of the tournament consists of a Group Stage in which four teams play a series of three games against one another, and the team that comes out on top advances to the semifinals.