Big battle highlights Saturday morning at Jefferson Cup
By Michael Willis
One of the first games taking place on day two of the Jefferson Cup was a highly anticipated match in the U16 Championship division between Upper Freehold/Allentown NJ Strikers and the North Carolina Fusion 96 Fusion Elite. The two teams come from very talented and developed programs in their respective regions, and on the pitch they did not disappoint once pitted against one another. The final result? A 1-1 draw.
What’s most interesting about the game is the manner in which the outcome was achieved. UFA applied liberal amounts of pressure on the North Carolina Fusion defenders and controlled the ball for large portions of the game through meticulous attacking. For ten minute periods at a time, the ball never got past midfield and into UFA territory. One college scout along the sidelines was overheard saying that “he hadn’t even seen a shot by the Fusion yet.”
I asked Fusion head coach Andrew Butler to speak on the outcome of the game:
“It was difficult. [UFA] is a very good team, and they pressed us well. It’s tough to play out of the back at times,” he said.
The Fusion were able to capitalize on the few opportunities that they got and respond with a late goal to secure a tie. That, certainly, is attributable to the speed of their strikers.
“We were able to get some possessions through the midfield. We got it behind them and created a few chances,” said Butler.
Midfielder Chris Navarrette delivered a great ball through to one of the Fusion’s strikers, which resulted in a header goal.
Needless to say, in this instance, pace was a key element to the victory.
Butler, to end, expressed some gratitude for having such speedy forwards on his team.
“If you don’t have good pace as a forward, you’re going to struggle. Good forwards have pace,” he said.