Demopolis High juniors win soccer state title

Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla, juniors at Demopolis High School, won the U18 Division II state championship with the Birmingham United Soccer Association earlier this month.

Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla, juniors at Demopolis High School, won the U18 Division II state championship with the Birmingham United Soccer Association earlier this month.

Demopolis High School juniors Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla put the wraps on a successful club soccer season Nov. 13 as they helped Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA) win the U18 Division II state championship in a thriller over Wiregrass.

BUSA, which finished with a 10-1-1 record on the season, downed Wiregrass on penalty kicks after rallying from an early deficit.

“The championship was actually special because we were losing 2-0 at halftime and one of our players got kicked out. We were playing a man down and we rallied in the second half and came back,” Chu said of the victory, which also avenged BUSA’s only loss of the season. “We went into overtime and had a penalty kick shootout.”

14991973_583316321861050_6913111793444267907_n“It was definitely exhilarating knowing that you were down 2-0 without a man. You somewhat lose hope, but then you think about ‘this is your last chance before the season could possibly end’ and you just all push together to win the game,” Maravilla said. “And it was definitely exhilarating winning the game on a PK and our goalie saved the last goal which was really cool.”

The club soccer experience allowed the Demopolis players to compete with athletes from around the state as the league featured teams from Tuscaloosa, Arab, Enterprise and Montgomery among others.

“It was completely different from high school,” Maravilla, who played both midfielder and center back, said of his first impressions of the club soccer scene. “I met people that were equally as skilled as me and some even better than me, which helps me improve my skill. I just didn’t think I would be able to compete with these people, but in actuality, I could. It surprised me. It made me a better person and made me practice harder to get to the same skill level as the people that were higher than me.”

Maravilla explained that his involvement with BUSA stemmed from Chu’s recommendation and prompted him to challenge himself in new ways.

“I eventually came to the decision that I would play and it was a pretty good decision because it was definitely an amazing season,” Maravilla said before contrasting the benefit of club soccer with an offseason in which he would ordinarily not spend much time working at the game. “I would really not do much. Last year, after soccer season was over, I would just sit around the house and, maybe every once in a while, go to the SportsPlex and just kick the ball around with some friends. That was really it. I didn’t really do anything else.”

For Chu, the BUSA season marked an opportunity to contribute much more than in his first go-round with the organization.

“It’s the same playing speed and then I was able to score more and assist more and contribute more than I used to on the team,” Chu said. “It was easier than it would’ve been last year. It was just a better experience.”

Chu and Maravilla were members of the 2016 Demopolis High School soccer team. Chu has received an invitation to play for Alabama Elite in the spring, which would allow him to compete in various showcases.