The Eagles, Spartans, Chicago Celtics and Fire Dragons were the official winners of the four tournament brackets at the inaugural MSA Beat the Heat 3-on-3 Soccer Tournament on Saturday.
Played out at the Pine Bluff Soccer Complex in Morris, 20 teams took part on a day filled with soccer played at an up-tempo, rapid-fire pace.
"It's the first tournament of its kind, so we made the rules based on traditional soccer and based on other things in order to make it fair," MSA treasurer Matt Cowell said.
George Wilhelmsen, a longtime certified official from the area, said that he's seen a lot of soccer over the years but that this one put on by the MSA is somewhat unique.
"You do see them pop up from time to time but not the little ones like this — a 3-on-3," he said. "It really increases the speed of the game. The ball moves fast and the players move fast on a very small field."
That is part of the charm of the event.
"It's a lot smaller and you have to move a lot more," Mack Vanoudt, a player on the Morris Penguins 13-under team, said. "You have to use the space that you have."
In a nutshell, the tournament is played without a goalie and in a 20-by-30 yard field, utilizing a miniature goal that stands just 3-by-5 feet in front of a dead-ball zone. The dead ball zone varied from division to division to prevent someone trying to play goalie.
"There's way different rules here," Collin Tucker, age 13, said. "You have to pass a lot more — its fun."
Tucker is a teammate with Vanoudt on the Penguins — a team that plays at three different levels locally.
"The Morris Penguins play indoors in Frankfort," Morris soccer mom Wendy Berman said. "They do recreation and for school and they play indoor."
From that "regular" Penguins team were four members, though, "there are other players in the tournament who are on other teams," according to Berman.
It's all in an effort to help spread the growth of soccer in the area.
"Soccer is getting a lot more popular since everyone is doing a lot more stuff to help it grow," Vanoudt said.
Berman said that MSA did a good job of getting the word out for the local kids.
"MSA spread the word about the tournament," Berman said. "It's great. The kids are having fun and learning a little bit differently. Learning to pass more."
No matter which of the 20 teams was declared the winner and took home the first-place soccer ball and Beat the Heat bag, what was most important was seeing the participation late in the summer.
"The intrinsic value of the tournament is that it's better than sitting on an easy chair in the living room," Wilhelmsen said. "You have kids out here playing and you have parents out here absorbing the sun and I haven't burnt my sunscreen off yet."
Ultimately it fun is the reason 8-year-old player Bree Nawrot of Hat Trick was there.
"You just play and have a great time," she said. "Soccer is fun because you get the chance to play with friends."