Miami Lakes United 14U are national Presidents Cup champs

Sports By Linda Trischitta, Editor Wednesday, August 2, 2023

    The Miami Lakes United U14 boys soccer team won the Presidents Cup national championship tournament in July in Wichita, Kansas. 

    The team, which went undefeated in its final 17 matches of the season, needed to win five matches in four days at nationals to capture the title. 

     The team defeated Necaxa USA Red from California 3-2 in overtime in the national championship match.

     The boys live in Miami Lakes, Hialeah, Miami Gardens and Pembroke Pines and practice at Royal Oaks Park, team co-Manager Annette Garcia said.

     Richy Pelaez has coached the traveling soccer team for the past two years.

     “This meant the world to them,” Pelaez, 52, of Pembroke Pines said about how the kids felt about their triumph. 

     “It’s something our club has never accomplished before,” he said. “They’ve been together for so long and they’ve never been this far.”

     Pelaez is also the boys soccer coach at American Senior High School in Hialeah.

     He said the U14 team’s rankings “have gone through the roof,” and that they will compete in the tougher Florida State Cup League in the U15 season that begins this month.

     The President’s Cup is a nationwide tournament that begins with matches at the state level, Garcia said. 

     In February and March, the boys won each of their group tournaments, starting the long process toward becoming state, regional and eventually national champions.  

     The team won the state tournament in April, winning seven matches by a combined 25-1 score.  

     In June, they moved on to the Southern Regional in Greenville, S.C. There, they won their group stage, the semifinal game against Louisiana and the final game against a team from Texas in overtime.   

     In Wichita, they won their group stage, beat Maryland in overtime in the semifinal game and defeated the California kids in the championship match.  

     The USYS National Presidents Cup champions are, from left front: Coach Richy Pelaez; David Garcia; Jonathan Vasquez; Angelo Sepulveda; Lucas Barrios; Riley Dudley; Julio Alonso and Giovanni Blatch. Back row: Coach Walter Chirinos; Jacob Chirinos; Nicholas Perez; Joseph Aplicano; Samuel Sepulveda; Alex Morejon; Gabriel Ortiz; Steve Alvarez; Nickolas Molano; Justyn Garzon and Manager Rebekah Dudley. Photo by Maria Vasquez.