Solar SC defeats Concorde Fire in Boys DA U-16/17 title match
IRVINE, Calif. (Via U.S. Soccer) – One-hundred and twenty minutes was not enough to decide the national champion, as Solar Soccer Club (Dallas, Texas) won its first Development Academy Championship as its Boys U-16/17 squad took down Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.) 4-2 in penalty kicks at the Championship Soccer Stadium.
After winning two marathon contests to clinch its spot in the final, Solar came out on top in another ironman affair, needing a penalty kick shootout after 120 minutes of play to top Concorde Fire. Solar goalkeeper Chris Edwards played the hero in the shootout, stopping two Concorde attempts to tee up Joshua Ramsey, who sunk the winning kick to clinch the trophy for Solar. Edwards took home the Golden Glove as the postseason’s best goalkeeper.
Ranked No. 27 of 32 teams entering the Playoffs, Concorde downed the nation’s No. 1 and No.2-ranked teams to reach the championship match, but had its magic run out against a dogged effort from the Dallas-based club. The Fire’s Miguel Ramirez won the Golden Boot as the Academy Playoffs’ leading scorer.
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With the victory, Solar becomes the first non-MLS affiliated Academy club to win the U-16/17 (formerly U-15/16) national championship since 2009. Of the 25 Academy Champions that have been crowned since 2008, Solar’s title is the fifth from Texas, the most of any state. The Lonestar State had an impressive showing at this year’s Academy Championships, as six of the sixteen semifinalists (four each for two Boys age groups and two Girls age groups) hailed from Texas.
Both teams’ goalkeepers and defenses put in standout performances in the opening 90 minutes. Regulation was highlighted by a number of standouts saves and clearances off the line to preserve the scoreless deadlock.
While neither team broke through before the full-time whistle blew, Solar wasted no time finding the back of the net at the start of extra time. Bailey Sparks threaded a beautiful pass upfield to Grant McCarty. He launched a booming effort from distance over the ‘keeper for the game’s first goal. Sparks was awarded the Golden Ball as the postseason’s best player.
Just as the teams matched each other defensively in the opening 90, Concorde responded to Solar putting one on the board just a few minutes later. Simon Carlson put a looping ball in the box for Chase Oliver to run down in the box. He hit a well-weighted header all the way to the far post to lock things up for the Georgia-based side.
The early burst of scoring sparked end-to-end action through the rest of extra time, but neither team was able to find a winner in the additional period. With things tied up at 1-1, the game went to penalty kicks to determine the national champ. Edwards stopped Concorde’s second kick to give Solar an early advantage, then made another stop on Concorde’s fourth to give his team a chance to clinch. Ramsey finished to the left side to secure the victory.