On February 17, ESI's 03 team did what no other ESI team has ever done. They won the bragging rights as the 2020 United States Futsal National Champs!

"We’ve been working for years to get to this point," Coach Stéphane Auvray said. "We are officially the best Futsal team in the nation at the U17 age group!"

The Road to the Finals
The road to the final was a rocky one. There were 3 teams in ESI's bracket pool. ESI won their first game 7-5 against the Sports With a Purpose (SWAP) '03 team from Elkhart, Indiana. This lead to a close game against Forge's 2003 team from Madison, Wisconsin, that ended in a last minute heart-breaking ESI loss and a score of 6-7. The uncertainty of the team making it to the final kept the parents and players in suspense.

"We were really disappointed at first with that loss because we were up 4-0 at the half," ESI's 04 Mathew Drinkhouse said. 

In the end the Forge team lost to SWAP by more points than ESI had beaten SWAP by. It came down to goal differential and ESI had more total goals in games played. 

The Sweet Taste of Victory
In the semis ESI recorded a 4-3 victory against Team Delicious from Penryn, California. This was a sweet win and it lead them into the finals against City Futsal from Dallas, Texas.

City Futsal and ESI have a rich history - having played friendlies and shared in participating futsal camps through the years. ESI 03 looked forward to the match up and the opportunity to play against a known team. 

"We've played against City Futsal in Orlando and lost to them time after time," said Mathew. "We had to think we could win first, then believe we could do it and make it happen." 

Most of the game the score was 3-3 with ESI going up 4-3 on a goal made by Luke Hoelting. In the last 5 minutes there were 7 goals total scored by both teams making it a nail-biter of a game up until the last second.

City Futsal strategically attempted a comeback with all players, including the goalie, playing the field. This opened up opportunities for ESI to score shots in the open goal, tallying 8 goals total. While City Futsal answered with 3 more goals, the team fell short. The final concluded with ESI winning the US Youth Futsal U17 National Championship by the score of 8-6.

"We came out with energy and really believed we deserved to win," Mathew said. "Being Futsal National Champions means alot to our team."

Coach concluded that the MVP of the tournament was the entire team.

"I am very proud for our players," said Stéphane Auvray. "We showed what the ESI sprit is and we made it up for the counter-performance during Regionals."

The 2020 US Youth Futsal National Championships took place over four days, and included 178 teams from 17 states with players aging from 9 to 19. The tournament is officiated by some of the top referees in the US, along with FIFA Futsal referees. ESI 06 also competed in the in U15 age group, before losing in the consolation round.

The Next Goals
The victory is an exciting payoff for hours of intense training and dedication, and a huge boost of confidence as both ESI teams prepare for the Guadeloupe trip in March and the spring Heartland League schedule. Guadeloupe will allow ESI players the opportunity to attend Pôle Espoir Guadeloupe (U14 and U15) and the Centre Elite des Regions Françaises d’Amérique CERFA (U16 to U18) to train with some of France's brightest young talents.