Ashburn Extreme, after long delay, advances to final with extra time win at Virginian
By Kevin Smith
In the Boys U16 division on Sunday, things were running behind schedule by the time the Ashburn Extreme (Va) took the field against PWSI Courage White (Va) at Wakedfield Park due to the overtime contest of an earlier semifinal that was resolved via exciting penalty kicks. It was 3:09 when Ashburn first kicked the ball for their 2:15 fixture.
In the early going, the Courage demonstrated strong push into the Ashburn end from its back line and strong play of the Courage midfielders, in spite of good pressure from the Ashburn squad.
Despite playing a favored Ashburn squad, the Courage entered half-time with a 1-0 lead on Anthony Ipanaque’s goal halfway through the opening period. The Ashburn squad played stronger as the half progressed, however, it struggled to generate shots on goal against a swarming, relentless Courage defense, repeatedly turning the ball over deep in Courage territory.
The second half started much how the first half ended, with the ball primarily in the Courage end of the field with occasional breakaways by the Courage players, which ended in quality shots on the Ashburn goal. By all appearances, the Courage appear to be pulling a “Rope-a-Dope,” the boxing strategy made famous by Muhammad Ali. The Courage kept absorbing the body blows by dropping extra men into the defensive third of the field when its rival attacked. Meanwhile, the team picked and chose when and where to deliver its punches, sending their speedy wingmen on the attack down the flanks, putting pressure on Ashburn’s outside defenders.
With five minutes left, the Courage goalie came up with a big save on a penalty kick from just outside the box, a save that appeared to seal the victory. But with Courage starting goalie Kyle Petty removed with a leg injury after a late collision with an Ashburn player, Ashburn tied the game on Myron Hernandez’s last-minute goal to send the game to overtime.
The loss of Petty loomed large in the first half of overtime play as Ashburn’s Sergio Resendiz buried a shot off a crossing pass from Hernandez. That play turned out to be the difference in the game, as Ashburn advanced on the back of their 2-1 overtime win over the Courage, sealing a spot in the final against FASA Elite (Va) who went to OT & PKs against the SYC Gunners (Va.) at 12:30 at Poplar Tree Park in Chantilly.