Tulsa, Ok – At the end of an exhausting and often thrilling week the first champions were crowned tonight at the US Youth Soccer National Championships at Tulsa’s Mohawk Soccer Complex.
Four teams from the events youngest and oldest age groups claimed the spoils in front of large and vocal crowds.
Like both of the U13 championships decided tonight the U19 Girls title came after penalty kicks. Although neither club could manage a goal from play in 120 minutes, Gretna won the penalty kick battle in decisive fashion, outscoring the newcomers 4-1 from the spot.
The U19 Boys had the added incentive of playing for the right to hoist the James P. McGuire Cup, awarded this year for the 80th time.
Long Island club Massapequa Arsenal (NY-E) were the winners tonight with an impressive 3-1 victory over St. Louis Scott Gallagher (MO).
On this stiflingly hot night in Tulsa Arsenal got off to the proverbial dream start with a goal from Michael Farese in the games third minute. But Massapequa were unable to follow that opening salvo with a second, allowing Gallagher to settle into the match.
When Steven May found the target for St.Louis the match was level and Massapequa were in jeopardy of wasting that dream start.
That wouldn’t the case however as the New York representatives answered with two goals to close out the Championship effort in fine style while earning the oldest title in youth sports as the winners James P. McGuire Cup.
The youngest group at the US Youth National Championships proved to be very deserving of their place in the competition, playing excellent soccer throughout the week and setting a high bar for dramatic endings in their championship matches.
Both games would go to penalties in front of large and loud crowds of supporters who were determined to make themselves known, a goal that was not only achieved but surpassed.
In the Girls Championship match PSG Gators (MI) and So Cal Blues Baker (CA-S) were unable to provide any goals for those passionate fans to celebrte in the opening half. But it wouldn’t take too much of the second half for the deadlock to be broken, with PSG Gators nosing ahead from a Madison Medalle goal in the game’s 51st minute.
With plenty of soccer still to be played nothing was assured by that narrow PSG lead and sure enough So Cal came back.
Lillian Shea was the goal scorer and as the clock wound down toward added time the California girls were knocking on the door.
But PSG Gators held firm and when neither side could hit the target in two 10 minute extra time periods, it was on to penalty kicks.
PSG Gators goalkeeper Emma Bourtorwick would emerge as the hero, coming up with the save that ended the game and secured the Championship for the Michigan club.
A goalkeeper was the star in the U13 Boys Championship too, with Grant Farley turning in a massive performance that allowed Baltimore Celtic Darby (MA) to hold off EC Real Galaxy FC (CA-N) for 120 minutes and make it to penalty kicks.
Farley had a huge role in keeping Real Galaxy striker Jerry Ayon off of the scoresheet, a task that seemed more and more impossible as the game went on.
From the start Ayon was finding space in the middle of the Celtic defense and with his combination of speed, quickness, strength and skill it seemed only a matter of when and perhaps how many goals Ayon would score.
Ayon and Farley weren’t the only two players on the field, but their game within a game was impossible to turn away from. Time after time Ayon would find a way around, or over or through the Baltimore defense only to be turned away by Farley, often with two or three Celtic defenders draped over the California striker.
Then with everyone preparing for penalties the game was turned on its head when a Celtic defender handled in the box for a penalty on what would prove to be final kick of regulation.
Surprisingly perhaps, Ayon did not step up to take the penalty, instead Jose Amezcua did the honors. The ball left Amezcua’s foot seemingly destined for the bottom right corner of Farley’s net, but the Baltimore keeper pulled off a brilliant save to keep his Celtic team alive.
Celtic would go on to win the pk war 4-3 with Farley making the championship winning save to earn a ride off the Mohawk Soccer Complex field by teammates and supporters alike.
It was no more than the keeper deserved.
Congratulations to all the newly crowned champions and well played to the runners up.