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ECNL Nov 22, 2021

ECNL Arizona: Houston Dynamo and San Diego Surf U-17s play instant classic

The San Diego Surf and Houston Dynamo Youth U-17 squads, both of whom made the quarterfinals for the ECNL Boys last season, has carried over that success into 2021-22.

Sunday morning, the two teams clashed at ECNL Arizona, creating an instant classic both sides will remember for a long time.

The two sides went full acceleration immediately from the opening whistle, as the first 15 minutes of the match featured multiple scoring chances for both teams, hard tackles, great passes and exceptional defense. Both squads were punching and counterpunching, waiting for the other to falter.

In the 17th minute, San Diego Surf gained the upper hand. The Surf offense built an attack from the right side, working their way into the box. Inside the 18, Surf cross the ball to Ryan Townhill, and he launched a rocket with his left foot into the top left corner to give the Cali clan a 1-0 lead.

Building off the momentum of the first goal, San Diego kept its foot on the gas. The boys in blue kept sending numbers forward and consistently tested the Dynamo Youth backline, but the Houston team kept them at bay. But at the end of the first half, Surf held a sizeable advantage in possession and scoring chances, all with a 1-0 lead.

After being hit many times in the first half, coming out of the break, Houston Dynamo Youth was ready for the counterpunch.

Using the break, Houston was able to flip the field in their favor and put San Diego Surf back on its heels. Dynamo Youth applied pressure with multiple waves of attack, forcing the Surf defense to weather the storm.

Their effort paid dividends early in the second half, as in the 59th minute, Houston was awarded a penalty kick. Stepping up to the spot, Victor Hernandez stared down the Surf goalkeeper, walked back a few steps, and then made his attempt. The goalie guessed right, but Hernandez’s shot was too good, finding the back of the net to even the score at 1-1.

Both Surf and Dynamo Youth rededicated themselves to their attack, and the result was a back and forth match for the remaining 30 minutes. Both teams pushed forward, and when they were denied, rushed back to stop the ensuing attack. As the half wound down, each squad became more determined to find the go-ahead tally.

In the 85th minute, Houston Dynamo Youth was on the attack when their forward was hauled down just outside the penalty area. Jose Lizama Jr. took the free-kick, and he smashed his shot. It went up and over the wall and into the top left corner of the net, giving Dynamo Youth a 2-1 lead with just minutes to play.

“The wall was high but I knew I had to hit my target,” Lizama said. “It was just above the third guy in the wall. I aimed it just over his head and it went in.”

Following the goal, Houston locked it down and earned the win. With the victory, Dynamo Youth continued its impressive start of the season, as through 12 games, the team has yet to concede a game. It’s an impressive feat, especially considering the quality of competition the team faced here at ECNL Arizona.

“San Diego Surf, they were a very good team,” Hernandez said. “They were a very hard team to play. They gave us a rough ride. But we showed what we’ve got in Houston and we can’t wait to show the rest of the conference and the rest of the league what we’ve got the rest of this season.”

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