Sanpete United FC teams take
gold in Utah Summer Games
By Katelyn Allred
Two local soccer teams took gold at the Utah Summer Games in Cedar City this year.
The Sanpete United FC teams won first place in the high school division as well as in the 12-14 age division.
“They were stoked; they were jumping; they were screaming; they were super excited,” said coach Albert Mincitar. He added that neither team had won a big tournament before.
The Summer Games is a summertime sports tournament held in Cedar City. Competitions are held in 36 different sports, including soccer, basketball and tennis, along with less traditional sports such as archery, bass fishing and table tennis. The games have been played since 1986 and have grown to be a major summer sporting event. This year’s games took place from June 14-16.
The teams played four games each, taking on teams from all over the state. Both teams were the underdogs in the competition—the 12-14 year olds had never played in such a large tournament and the high school boys had to overcome school rivalries and play as a cohesive team.
The 12-14 age group took third place in the second division last year. “They wanted a harder challenge this year, since they had been working so hard at practice,” Mincitar said. “They thought they were ready for it.”
The younger team won all four of their games, beating Guerrero FC and Cima FC, some of the best teams in southern Utah, along the way.
Everyone was thinking that “at least we got silver,” Mincitar said. “Then the ball started rolling and the unexpected happened. It was a super intense game for the full 80 minutes, but the boys gave 110 percent and pulled off the win!”
The high school team had a rougher start. “[They] had never played together in any tournament. This was the first time these set of boys went together, so for them to play at a high bracket with super hard teams that been playing together for years was intimidating,” said Mincitar.
The team won their first game, but lost their second. But as they found their footing in the tournament and with each other, their fortunes turned. They won their third game, despite a player being injured and another being sick.
Their fourth game began with neither team able to gain the upper hand. After a halftime talk, though, something clicked. “We took over the game. Our chemistry was like we had played together for years. We battled so hard and shut them down completely,” Mincitar said. “Sanpete United FC brought home gold! The players couldn’t believe it; they didn’t even celebrate after the game was over. They were in shock. But when we got to the medal ceremony and they announced our name as champions, they went crazy. Jumping on the stage, throwing water on each other and celebrating like a true team.”
Hard work paid off for both teams and they are looking forward to future tournaments.