Brad Sellar's Predators Freedom Soccer Club boys travel team just managed to catch this season’s last train to victory when it won the Columbia Fall Classic tournament's under-13 bracket championship a few weeks ago.
That tournament marked its last competition of the fall soccer season.
The team had played well during the autumn. But until then, it hadn't been able to break into the winners' circle.
That all changed on the afternoon of Nov. 11 at Garrison Forest School in Reisterstown. There, it beat Soccer Association of Columbia in the tournament championship game.
Last spring, Freedom won the Central Maryland Soccer League's under-12 title with a 7-0 record. However the team's coaches, led by Sellar, to move it over to an EDP league for the fall season to look for stronger competition.
Most of the players from their spring championship squad were back this fall, and Sellar needed to bring in only three new new ones as he moved his kids up to the under-13 age bracket.
Sellar felt he would need a competitive squad to face up to the strong competition in EDP. Having most of the team back added to his confidence going into its new surroundings.
“We’d added three new players this year, and the boys were always improving,” he said. “I knew we had a better team than last year.”
However, he wasn’t sure just how good his team would have to be.
"I knew we had the boys, but I didn't know what kind of talent we'd come up against. I hoped we would play well," the coach said.
However, the Freedom coach got an inkling about his talent in August's Keystone Cup tournament. There, Freedom won twice before losing in the semifinals.
“They were our first games of the season. We wanted to see what we had and get ourselves ready for EDP. And I thought we played pretty well,” Sellar said.
Later on, in anther tourney, the River Soccer Club’s Columbus Day Classic Tournament in Delaware, the Predators went 3-1. They won twice, were beaten in the semifinals, and then won a 3-0 consolation match.
EDP also went well, although Freedom couldn’t pull out a championship. It finished third in its loop with a 4-2-1 record. But at Garrison Forest, the local kids put everything together.
In the opening game Nov. 11, they pulled to a 4-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 6-0 win over the SAC United Gold team from Columbia.
Later that day, the Predators blasted the Old Line FC Storm team of northern Baltimore County 9-0. That put Freedom in the tournament semifinals.
Of course it had been in semifinal games before, but failed to go further.
Sellar noted that, “we have been strong on Saturday but not on Sunday.”
This time was different, and Freedom won 3-0 for its third consecutive shutout.
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The championship game would see the first goal scored against the locals. That came on a corner kick near halftime and tied it up 1-1.
But Freedom went ahead 2-1 early in the second half on a boot from about 25 yards out. Then late in the game with the Columbia team pressing hard to tie it, the Carroll squad scored a breakaway goal to go up 3-1.
That is how it ended. There was a bit of added off-field drama in the tournament, though.
One player dislocated his shoulder. And while his teammates were happy to win the championship, they were worried about his injury. Fortunately, one of the team’s coaches, Matt Wane, is a physical therapy physician. Wane put the shoulder back in place.
Freedom continues its soccer travels soon when Westminster’s Carroll Indoor Sports opens its winter session.
Sellar looked back on his boys’ final outdoor matches.
“They’d wanted (a championship) all year. They just wanted it a lot more this time,” he said. “They worked hard, and they put it all together in their last tournament games of the year. They showed what they could do and got the win.”