Travis Jehs and Ricky McEwan found the net for RSL on Saturday evening as it defeated CESA Premier 2-0, and McEwan struck again on Sunday, scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Columbia United.
According to RSL coach Steve Wolf, earning the title was not just special for the players, but important for them. The side has suffered disappointment in the past in big events, losing in the final of the Florida State Cup in the last three seasons.
Wolf believes now they have won a major title, sealing it with a pair of strong victories, the team’s confidence will grow and it will allow the team to relax more when facing pressure situations. The last west Florida side to win a Region III title was the IMG Academy's girls under-18 side in 2007, which contained a number of local standouts, but RSL's victory is believed to be the first title won by a Tampa-based team.
“I think this is very important for the guys psychologically,” Wolf said. “To get past this point and to win something big, because they’ve been through going to State Cup three years in a row and losing in the final. Now we’ve stamped our ticket to regionals, I think we can be a little more relaxed and a little less pressure on us going into State Cup.”
Making this step, where a team learns to perform under pressure, especially with a title on the line, can be a key moment in a player’s and a team’s development.
“That’s something that champions do,” Wolf said. “That’s what it’s all about, learning to deal with pressure and winning. Hopefully we can keep progressing from here.”