Earning the title "World Champs" is brilliant enough and Bad Company did just that earlier this month, Jan. 19-21, at the 2013 Kick It 3v3 World Championships soccer tournament in Orlando, Fla.
How Bad Company did it, specifically in the championship match, takes the world championship from great to, as head coach Chris Palme puts it, "it was something you had to be there and see it to actually believe it."
Down 5-1 with the clock running under five minutes left in regulation time, and playing the Lightning, a Florida squad which routed Bad Company 7-2 two days earlier in pool play, Bad Company tied the match, 6-6, with 0:08 left and won the title, 7-6, with a goal with less than 0:30 left in overtime.
Bad Company combined four players from Palme's outdoor club, the Sanford Area Soccer League-based Lightning, and two players from a frequent rival in N.C. club tournament circles, but a friendly rival, Jacksonville's Coastal Crew.
Southern Lee's Alex Palme, Derrick Cannady and Tyler McCoy along with Marc Gamboa are on the Sanford Lightning. Warren Washington and Dylan Elliott are from the Coastal Crew.
The Cavalier trio, plus Gamboa for the second trip, reached the World Championship tournaments as 9-year-olds and 14-year-olds. The group didn't decide to give the 3-on-3 season a shot until just before the first local tournament.
Bad Company finished second in its first qualifying tournament, good enough to advance to regionals in Charlotte in August.
In Charlotte, Bad Company rolled through to the final where it edged Georgia team Triple Threat 4-3 in overtime.
Bad Company and Triple Threat qualified to Orlando and clashed in the first match of pool play. Bad Company's high drama in Florida started right away.
Triple Threat took a 3-0 halftime lead. Bad Company stormed ahead with eight straight goals in the second half and wound up with a 9-5 victory.
"Trapping defense and great passing, that's our game," Chris Palme said.
3-on-3 soccer is played on a 40-yard-long field. There's no goalie, although a team often dedicates a defensive player, almost as efficient as a player allowed to use his hands, to being a keeper. Shots have to come within a squad's offensive half, but not from within a small box in front of the goal, to count.
Bad Company continued through group play with an 11-3 win over a team from Peoria, Ill., a 6-0 win over a team from Chicago, then the 7-2 loss to the Lightning.
The Lightning was the defending world champ.
"Even on a great day for us, at best we'd give them a great match," coach Palme said.
Making things tougher in the pool play match, it was Bad Company's fourth match of the day versus the second for the Lightning. The benefit for Bad Company was it had a day off before playing in the final, against the Lightning again, which played two games Saturday and two games Sunday.
Nonetheless, the Lightning went through the group undefeated and took the lead in the final, holding a 1-0 lead at halftime.
"Their team was really great. I can't emphasize how great they were," Palme said.
The Lightning's defense was its trademark, with a defender who was an outstanding "goalie" with his quickness.
Bad Company changed tactics, putting Washington, North Carolina's 3A Player of the Year for Jacksonville High School this past fall, by the Lightning goal, and defender, for the whole second half.
It paid off in dangerous chances, but not goals, for Bad Company and the Lightning led 5-1.
Palme put McCoy, a defense-first player, onto the field. The odd move paid off huge.
"I told him, 'you have to chase everywhere. Do everything you can to get the ball.'" Palme said.
McCoy got three steals, and each time fired a long pass toward Washington. Washington scored three goals in a span of 0:38.
"Warren would take the ball out of the air, and the ball's coming at full speed, then heel flick by the goalkeeper," Palme said. "Warren's a big kid, but he's phenomenal what he can do with his footwork and the ball."
Still down a goal, Alex Palme played a ball up to Washington. He chest-trapped the ball up and headed the ball into the net making it 5-5 with a little less than a minute remaining.
The Lightning went down and scored a go-ahead goal a few seconds later. Bad Company had one last chance. Again, Alex Palme found Washington 1-on-1 with the keeper. Washington turned to his left with the ball, faked a shot, then curled the ball around the defender to stick it in the goal with eight seconds left.
In the three-minute sudden-death overtime, Bad Company held the ball for the last minute for one shot.
"I was just thinking, 'we can't afford to give (the Lightning) the ball back,'" Chris Palme said.
If overtime had gone without a goal, it would've brought up a penalty shootout, not really a good option either with the Lightning's keeper, Palme said.
With Washington, Cannady and Alex Palme on the field, Cannady and Palme were able to keep possession but they couldn't find Washington near the goal.
Alex Palme drove a blast from 20 yards out. The keeper got his head to the shot, which then hit the right post, hit the left post, bounced in the field of play and spun back over the goal line.
As frantic last the last minutes of the match were, and as much celebrating as there was going on - "they reverted back to 5-year-olds, but it was just pure fun and happiness," Chris Palme said - it was great as a coach and a dad to "take five or 10 seconds and just watch my boys celebrate," he said.
"These boys, they're friends and they've come up together," he said.
"The only thing was, I just wish more people could've seen what they did."
While not the family and friends Palme wished could've made the trip, lots of spectators and fellow 3v3 players saw the final. In large part because of the Lightning's well-earned respect, the comeback drew more folks around the huge complex to see the final seconds, then the final seconds of overtime, play out.
A few months ago, this run of 3v3 tournaments was supposed to be one last go-around. The world championship title gives Bad Company an automatic bid to the 2014 championship. There's a good chance, if his players want to go, they'll be able to talk their coach into one more tournament.