Rapids U-16s finish third in the country after undefeated Finals Week
The Colorado Rapids Under-16 Team finished an impressive season with a 2-0 victory over Albertson SC of New York on Saturday in Houston, giving the Rapids a third place finish out of the 80 Development Academy teams across the country. Quinn Leibmann and Rem Ellis scored in the first half, and Hayden Davis kept the shutout for Colorado.
“We’re very proud of the boys,” said Rapids U-16 Head Coach Mitch Murray. “We went to Dallas for the playoffs and Houston for Finals Week and played seven games against playoff caliber teams and had no losses. Those are tough games, and to have that kind of consistency is a great effort on the guys’ part.”
After winning their Development Academy playoffs group in Dallas with a 2-0-1 record, the Rapids went to Finals Week in Houston and had a 1-0-2 record in the group stage. This earned the Rapids a chance to play against Albertson, the other group’s second place finisher, for third overall in the nation. Saturday’s match saw a few changes for the U-16’s, with Esdrel Peinado and Daniel Jimenez earning their first starts of the week, and Elijah Mwenebitu, Rem Ellis, and Quinn Leibmann playing their first Finals Week minutes on Saturday.
It was the newcomers to the starting lineup that made the difference, as Leibmann scored just eight minutes into the 80-minute match, redirecting an Esdrel Peinado cross to put the Rapids on the board. In the 26th minute, Colorado doubled its lead, with Ellis finishing a rebound from a Jimenez shot.
“They played hard from the start,” said Murray, “and the guys who hadn’t seen a lot of playing time in the playoffs really stepped up and played a big part.”
The Rapids played solid defense to keep the clean sheet and capture third place among the top 80 Under-16 Teams across the country. The result was an improvement on Colorado’s best-ever finish in the Development Academy, which had been the Rapids U-18’s 6th place finish a year ago in the 2011-12 season.
“It’s a special group of players, who compete and played consistently all year. Over the course of a season, you always have ups and downs, but with this team it was mostly ups. They were always able to fight back and get results,” said Murray.
“It takes a certain amount of chemistry, a certain amount of talent, and a little luck with regards to staying healthy. To finish this season off with third place is a great achievement.”
Rapids U-16’s Lineup vs. Albertson SC
Hayden Davis, Enda O'Neill, Quentin Pearson, Kortne Thompson-Ford, Bryce Montes, Elijah Mwenebitu (Jovanni Chavez 75’), Jacob Smits-Kagoshima, Rem Ellis, Esdrel Peinado, Daniel Jimenez, Quinn Leibmann