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Boys U15 ISFA team proceed to national tournament semi-final

Alessandro Arpaio
The boys U15 ISFA team pose for a team picture after a 3-2 win in the game preceding the ISFA Shield tournament quarter finals Nov. 29, 2023. They scored in the last minute of the game to win the match against Claremont.

The Independent Schools Football Association tournament is considered one of the most prestigious youth football tournaments in England with famous alumni such as ex-Chelsea, West Ham and Manchester City center-mid player Frank Lampard.

ISFA holds various tournaments annually: the Cup, Trophy, Shield and Bowl descending in order of difficulty.

This is the school’s second year competing in the U15 tournament. After getting knocked out on penalties in the second round of the Cup, the Boys U15 team made it to the semi-finals of the Shield tournament.

Unfortunately, the U15 boys were knocked out in a narrow 1-0 defeat against Dunottar Feb. 23. Despite the loss, this is the furthest the team has ever made it in an ISFA tournament.

U15 Boys ISFA Head Coach Danny Cook said the team faced great adversity throughout its run in the tournament.

“They’ve certainly been up against it with the cup draws,” Cook said. “They were unfortunate in having to play all but one fixture away and because of this, they had to endure some long journeys which also meant they didn’t get a lot of time to warm up.”

Goalkeeper Sam Keller (’27) said since they rarely play together as a team, they were all excited to play in the tournament.

“As a team, we overperformed and exceeded expectations,” Keller said. “Even when the team we played was much better than us, we always managed to find a way. I think that’s because we were so excited to play together since we normally don’t.”

In addition, Edwin Rosenberg(’27) said seeing each other every day at school created cohesive play on the pitch.

“Since we all have some classes together and spend time together at school, there is a strong bond between us and when we are on the pitch you can really feel the energy and chemistry,” Rosenberg said.

On the other hand, Cook said that the lack of time together as a team on the pitch contributed to the team’s loss.

“The other teams we played against train together year-round,” Cook said. Unfortunately, we were only able to have about two training sessions as a group. The boys were very coachable. They picked up and implemented tactics extremely quickly.”

Keller said despite not training much as a team, the group gained confidence after their loss in the second round of the cup.

“We played against a team with three academy players, so we knew it would be hard to win,” Keller said. “We lost on penalties, but that game proved to us that we were good enough to beat any team, and it gave us the motivation to prove it.”

Cook said although they lost in the semi-final, the team learned from the high-stakes atmosphere of the match.

“The semi-final was played in a non-league stadium and there were lots of spectators,” Cook said. “It was a great experience for the boys. They managed the pressure of playing in front of many spectators really well.”

Rosenberg said the support between players ultimately allowed them to handle the pressure well.

“There are players who play a lot and players who play less,” Rosenberg said. “But, everyone understands their role and just wants the team to succeed. This is important because there is no tension in the team.”

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About the Contributor
Alessandro Arpaio, Reporter
Alessandro Arpaio ('26) is a Reporter for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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