By Kevin Smith
When the SYC Surge (Va) and Team America 96 (Va) took the field at South Run Park in Springfield, all the other divisions in the tournament had been decided. This was one of the main events, and for those that watched it, words can’t describe the excitement.
The two teams spent the first half engaged in relentless attacks which were being rebuffed by equally relentless play by each squad’s defense. Pace down the wing and technique in the middle of the pitch were countered by physical defenders, who matched each attacker with well-timed tackles.
The game was a contentious one in which the two teams’ familiarity with each other was the nexus for a physical, chippy game that still, somehow, fell short of yellow cards.
The second half featured several near misses and strong keeper play from both team’s goalies. With neither team able to capitalize on chances during the game’s second period, the teams continued to battle into extra time.
Hot and tired with three full games under their belt, the two squads returned to field for 20 minutes of extra time with everything on the line.
The Surge came out hard in the first overtime period but squandered two opportunities on penalty kicks just outside the box and another on a strong corner that was headed straight into the air instead of into the Team America goal. Ten minutes into the period, the two squads remained scoreless, a situation that would remain the same through to the end of the 20 minute overtime.
During a tournament that witnessed over half a dozen championship games decided on penalty kicks, it’s only appropriate that the last game of the tournament would be decided by penalty kicks.
And Surge keeper Ryan Morris came up big, stopping two of Team America’s kicks to beat their rivals 4-2.