Energy was high as the Mercy Home soccer team took the pitch on Sunday, November 13, for the Player Sports Group ( playoff semifinals and championship games. After a winning season with a 611 record, the Mercy Home youth and staff soccer team advanced to the semifinals, eager to claim their first title as league champions. During the semifinal game against team Buck Wild, the Mercy Home squad proved its championship mettle by taking an early lead, and securing a 73 victory. The team then readied themselves to take on Ries’ Knees in the title game. Taking the lead early in the first half, Mercy Home prevailed, 42, and claimed the title of Player Sports Group2011 soccer Champions. “It felt really good [to win],” said Mercy Home youth and team striker, Zak. “We put a lot of effort into the games. We lost a couple [games in previous seasons], but we came through this time. And we’re going to win this season too!” The Mercy Home soccer team, comprised of youth and staff who all share a love for the game, gives our youth another healthy physical outlet, all while contributing to their character development and giving them a unique experience, where they join their staff to become members of the same team, striving for the same goal. “The team gives staff an opportunity to bond with the youth in a recreational environment,” said Susan Hackney, team defensive player and Mercy Home program manager. “It gives us a chance to model and reinforce good sportsmanship with the youth and show them how to be a team player. The league is a lot of fun, but it also gives us a unique setting to teach the youth invaluable life skills.” Soccer is just one of the many sports offered to our young men and women. During the winter and spring, our young men are encouraged to participate in Hoops to Homework, a weekend basketball incentive program, designed to encourage our young men to do well in school. Hoops to Homework combines teams of youth, staff and volunteers playing every Saturday from January to May, culminating in the final championship game at DePaul University. Other sports offered to our young men and women include volleyball and basketball leagues between other organizations similar to Mercy Home, and sporting events throughout the year integrating teams of youth and staff, such as kick ball, dodge ball and flag football. The Mercy Home soccer team will take their talent indoors, to their home field, in Player Sports Group’s indoor league at the Mercy Home Soccer Center.