AUBURNDALE, Fla. (Via US Youth Soccer) – The 2017 US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup kicked off Thursday at the Lake Myrtle Sports Park in Auburndale, Florida. The four-day event features 40 US Youth Soccer Boys and Girls teams in the 13U through 17/18U age groups that have earned their way to the National Presidents Cup via success in their respective US Youth Soccer Regional Presidents Cup events.
The US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup offers teams the challenge of experiencing different types of play by competing from state to regional to national levels. The Presidents Cup provides teams with a progressive, competitive experience that highlights competition, camaraderie and community.
15U Boys OHA Stars FC (NE) exerts these qualities as it is made up of all refugee players from Somalia, Sudan and Karen. OHA tied VE Gunners (PA-E), 1-1, in Thursday’s opening match, and Coach Osuman Issaka feels that the team is off to a great start.
“Our program is run by the Simple Foundation, which is a nonprofit,” Issaka said. “It’s a great program with integration versus assimilation, helping them integrate in the U.S. and using soccer as a vehicle for it. They love it. It’s the first time, for some of them, flying and the first time for all of them to be in Florida. They’re enjoying it.”
The US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup will continue preliminary games through Saturday, July 15. Consolation and championship matches will take place on Sunday, July 16.
A few highlights from Thursday’s matches:
13U Boys VSA 04 Premier (IA) tied Farmington Indians (CT), 2-2, in a great back and forth match. VSA took the lead just five minutes into the game as Emanuel Soto found the back of the net. Just six minutes later, Colin Wright leveled the score for Farmington. Jake MacBeth scored midway through the first half to give VSA the lead going into halftime. Farmington’s Caden Gallagher earned Farmington the tie with a late 69th minute goal. With the tie, both teams gain a point which could be crucial in making it to the 13U Boys final.
Evelyn Sandoval scored two late first half goals to give 13U Girls Beach FC LB 04 Nunes (CA-S) a 2-0 advantage over Arkansas Comets 04 Navy (AR) at halftime. Beach didn’t take its foot off the gas adding a goal in the 42ndminute by Camryn Cruz. Sandoval completed her hat trick shortly after, getting put through on a breakaway and slotting a shot inside the left post. Beach’s Erin Hegstrom and Paradyse Wong finished the scoring for the 6-0 final.
In a high scoring match between Downtown LA Soccer Club 03 (CA-S) and MST United Stars (FL), Downtown LA came out on top, 5-3. United Stars got the advantage early, scoring in the 9th minute of play when Kevin Murillo found the back of the net. Downtown answered with three goals in under five minutes by Aaron Hernandez, Kevin Flores, and Oliver Alfonso added the third after a scramble in front of the goal and poked the ball over the line. Joshua Saavedra pulled one back for United Stars early in the second half but Hernandez’s long looping shot made the score 4-2. United Stars kept pushing for an equalizer and pulled within one again on a Norman Alvarez goal but Downtown LA sealed the deal in the 63rd minute as Edwin Rodriguez scored the game’s final goal.
Eagles SC 2003 (CA-S) picked up a 2-0 win against Solar Chelsea 03 Wells (TX-N). Neither team got on the board in a scoreless first half, but Jaydin Marucut changed that when she scored in the 37th minute. Ten minutes later, Katelyn Lathrop sealed the win with a second goal for Eagles SC.
VE Gunners (PA-E) and OHA Stars FC (NE) battled to a 1-1 draw. After a scoreless first half with chances on both ends of the field, OHA got on the board early in the second half. Noor Hassan picked up the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and placed the ball on goal. Hassan earned several other opportunities throughout the match to score another, but VE Gunners began to pick up the tempo and send dangerous crosses across the goal. VE Gunners equalized the game as Sean McCartney stepped up to take a penalty kick. While both teams pushed for the go-ahead goal, the score remained tied until the final whistle.
In a back-and-forth scoring match, World Cup SC Greater Nashua 2002 Elite (NH) defeated Puma FC Academy Chelsea (KS), 3-2. Puma FC started off the game with the majority of the offensive push as it earned multiple corner kicks and constantly drove forward with the ball. However, World Cup SC’s Allison Sullivan scored a late first half goal. Tatum Schuerman tied the game up for Puma FC in the 50th minute as she scored off of a corner kick from Ashtyn Garms. Puma FC quickly took the lead three minutes later when Kate Gibson blocked a defensive clearance, beat the goalkeeper, and passed the ball into the goal. World Cup SC retaliated with a Paisley Broadhurst equalizer as she volleyed the ball off of Julianna Martin’s corner kick. The game winning goal started off with a diagonal ball that was played perfectly for Gracie Gamache to run onto. Gamache crossed the ball on the ground for Allison Sullivan to slide for and place the ball in the net.
Santos Laguna White (CA-S) posted a 2-1 win against PDN Rush Sharks 2001 (TX-S). Jacobo Ortega Cardenas got Santos Laguna on the board in the 16th minute. It was a back-and-forth battle for the remainder of the game and Quinton Brown scored the equalizer for PDN in the 44th minute. Santos Laguna created several dangerous opportunities, and it was finally rewarded when Adrian Leon-Gonzalez crossed the ball for Miguel Lopez to redirect the ball into the goal with a header.
BAC Blitz (VA) defeated CWSC 01 Academy Elite (OH-S), 2-1, on the first day of 16U Girls play. Blitz earned a penalty kick early and Virginia Delacruz made no mistake slotting her shot by the keeper. CWSC drew a penalty in the second half and leveled the match as Grace Armentrout slotted her chance into the bottom left corner. Molly Murphy played the hero for Blitz, as she scored the game’s final goal in the second half. Blitz held off a desperate CWSC attack to gain a crucial three points.
“I’m really proud of our girls as this team pushed us to the very limit,” said BAC Blitz Head Coach Tim Kiely. “They’re extremely excited to be playing at a National event. Our club doesn’t normally get this type of representation. We’re more of a community type club, so they’re really excited to represent their community here at National Presidents Cup.”
17/18U Boys Rockford Raptors (IL) got the best possible start to its 2017 National Presidents Cup when it scored in the first minute of play on a Zesus Huerta goal. Raptors and Ocean Township United S.A. Spartans (NJ) battled back and forth with Ocean Township looking to grab an equalizer. With the final whistle drawing near, it looked like Rockford would escape with a win and the full three points. In the last 45 seconds of play, an Ocean Township long throw got flicked on into the box. Leonardo Mentesinos got his head on the flicked-on ball and it flew into the upper corner to bring the final score to 1-1.
Illinois Fusion (IL) earned a significant win against Vorskla Black (PA-E) to start off the event. Illinois Fusion’s first goal took place when Lauren Shanks ran onto a through ball and slid for the ball, placing the ball in the right side of the goal. Five minutes later, Shanks added another goal. Meredith Johnson-Monfort made it a 3-0 match when she picked up a Vorskla goal kick, dribbled closer to the goal, and hit the ball into the left side netting. Johnson-Monfort scored another goal in the second half, and Jessica Hieb also contributed one to tally five total goals.