Baltimore Celtic 17U Boys advance to semifinals at USYS National Championships
In a pivotal matchup for a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships 17U Boys semifinals, Baltimore Celtic 02 (MD) claimed a 2-0 shutout over Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA).
Following the third day of a grueling tournament with teams fighting for a chance to advance, Baltimore Celtic is able to take a deep breath knowing its spot is secured with the victory.
“It is the third day, legs are gone, it is absolutely relief and happiness to be advancing,” said Baltimore Celtic 02 head coach David Nesbitt. “The team hung in there particularly when their legs were gone. They pulled out the win and that’s what it is about. Most of these guys have been together for three years, so this is a great statement to how far they have come. We need to get some rest and refocus to get right back into action.”
Baltimore Celtic came out of the gate ready to play with a spot in the semifinals on the line, taking the lead in just the fifth minute when Alexander Krause found the foot of Spencer Hanks, who tapped the ball past the keeper for the score.
After the early portion of the first half was controlled by Baltimore Celtic, Washington settled in as it found an attacking presence. In the 19th minute, a Washington corner kick led to a header on goal, but the Baltimore defense cleared the ball away on the goal line to keep Premier off the scoreboard. Nine minutes later, Washington had another chance at the equalizer as Baltimore Celtic goalkeeper Caeden Fong made the save to keep the ball from finding the back of the net.
The last minute of the first half put the pressure on Washington goalkeeper Jack Landreth, who made two saves in stoppage time to send the game to halftime with Baltimore Celtic up, 1-0.
It was a tale of two halves as both teams struggled to find scoring opportunities in the second half. An early corner kick just four minutes into the second half was saved by Landreth to keep Washington within one goal.
A diving save by Baltimore Celtic keeper Matthew Kopsidas kept the Maryland side ahead by one just nine minutes into the half. The teams continued to battle with Baltimore Celtic getting an insurance goal in the 83rd minute when Krause found Hanks for the second time of the day as Hanks chipped the ball over the goalkeeper — scoring his 17U Boys leading fourth goal of the tournament.
Washington continued to fight, as it forced Kopsidas to make two saves in stoppage time to preserve the shutout.
“We knew we had to get a result today and coming off a big 5-0 win yesterday there was a lot of momentum,” added Hanks. “There are a lot of great players around me and I got the two goals. I’m glad I was able to help the team.”
Baltimore Celtic held off the final push from Washington to earn the victory and a spot in the semifinals on Saturday against Arlington SA 2002 Red (VA).