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Tournaments Oct 30, 2010

VYSA Fall 2010 State Cup semifinals wrap-up, finals Sunday at West Creek

The semifinals for the Fall 2010 VYSA State Cup are in the books except for the U16 boys, who will play their semis on Sunday while the teams around them compete for the State Cup Championships. (We have a review of today’s U16 quarterfinals and our semifinalists predictions below as well.)

There was plenty of action and drama today at West Creek Fields in Richmond, Virginia. The nearly perfect weather sorted out the soft fields by the time the noon games kicked off, and it only got better from there.

The morning began with five games kicking off at 10 AM, and with local league games going on nearby, every inch of space at West Creek was filled. Four games were U18 boys and girls, with one U17 boys game rounding out the morning festivities.

With one massive game going into overtime and PKs (more on that later), field six got behind schedule, and just four matches started as originally planned at high noon. The noon round of games provided plenty of awesome goals and one of the biggest upsets in recent memory (more on that later, too). Plus, with the U16 and U17 ages mostly in action the noon slot also drew the most college coach interest, putting even more on the line for many players.

The 2 pm round of just four U15 games also saw tons of goals, along with one smaller-stature Division 3 boys team competing for their lives and valiantly keeping things much closer than many spectators expected – proving what division you play in league has less to do with how well you can play than most think.

And now our review of the games today:

U18 Boys

10:00 AM – Field 5
Beach FC Fire 4 : 1 Annandale Premier 92 
Annandale were out to prove our prediction wrong, scoring the opening goal fairly early in this first match of the day. Beach would put home a PK about 15 minutes later, and two sides went into halftime with some work to do. The second half saw more back and forth, before Beach took the 2-1 lead and forced Annandale to push the game. Showing no fear of losing by a wider margin as the game wore on, Annandale committed everything to the attack, but were eventually caught while failing to get the goal they were searching for.

10:00 AM – Field 6
Arlington Venom 1 : 1 (3-4 PKs) Great Falls Blue 92
Can you say “what a game”? We said there was drama today, and most of it was packed into this one game. Though Great Falls proved our upset prediction true, the match seriously should not have been close. Arlington attacked relentlessly for the entire first half, barely allowing Blue out of their own end. The wet surface and physical prowess of both of these teams full of college-bound players made for a fast-paced and entertaining game, but perhaps the conditions were just enough take the venom out of Arlington’s bite, as they could only find the woodwork four times in the first half. They went into the interval at 0-0, but it could have easily been 4-0 Arlington. The second half was not the same Great Falls though, as they took a turn going slightly downhill, but also found more of their attacking threat. It was a little more “route 1” than Arlington’s possession style, but it started to show promise. As happens so often in this game when one team dominates but fails to score – the other team finds a way to punish them, and it was Great Falls who notched first around the 60th minute. But it wasn’t long before Arlington was back on the attack, and when they earned a penalty with about 20 minutes left, they had to be excited. And when a Great Falls player already on a yellow complained about the call a little too much, he drew a second caution from referee. Arlington’s Josh West finished the PK, and now with a man advantage, his team seemed ready to capitalize. Great Falls responded almost immediately however with a disciplined defensive plan to keep a low pressure line, and do everything possible to try and make it to through the rest of the game, through OT, and to PKs. It wasn’t a totally defensive effort by Great Falls, as they did try to attack when the had the ball, but overall the tactic worked, and after 50 minutes of 1:1 soccer, it was down to PKs. Arlington was up first in the PK rounds, and both teams made their first two. Then Paul Hegedus made a save before Great Falls converted to take a 3:2 lead. Arlington’s goalkeeper Shayne Leonard calmly answered taking a spot kick himself to keep his team in it, but Cameron Foster answered for Great Falls’ 4th to make it 4:3 with one round to go. Hegedus decided he didn’t want to put any more pressure on his teammates, and stoned Josh West before being mobbed by his thankful teammates.

The Beach FC v Great Falls final is the way we picked this one, so we’re sticking to our original prediction of Great Falls winning 2-1 on Sunday. But they’ll have to play better defense than they did today, because luck of the cross bar never lasts in this game of inches. Beach FC didn’t hit any crossbars today in putting four chances past a good Annandale side. If you’re in the Richmond area tomorrow, this is game not to miss.

U17 Boys

10:00 – Field 4
SYA NOVA 1 : 3 Herndon FC 
We didn’t get to see much of this match, but know that Herndon opened the scoring early, and that we correctly picked them to go on the finals.

12:00 PM – Field 5
Annandale United FC 93 3 : 1 VISTA RFC 93
Bucking our prediction that it was unlikely anyone would score on Annandale, RFC took the lead in this match not even half way through the first half, and would hold on to the lead a good part into the second. Annandale would not be denied however, and scored two quick goals to break into their first lead, then added another later to ice the game for the 3-1 win.

This is the final we predicted, and it’s going to be a good one if today’s goal scoring and quality of play was any indication. Annandale should win it, but they’ll want to avoid another early slip up, or risk showing Herndon the way in. We think Annandale will win 2-1, but might need OT to do it.
U16 Boys
We didn’t see any of these quarterfinal games, but here are the scores, with our prediction outcomes. The semifinals will take place Sunday at West Creek along side the finals matches, making for another full slate of great soccer at the Strikers top-notch facility.

PWSI Courage 94 Red 2 : 0 Arlington FC 94 Blue
Prediction: Correct

Great Falls 94 Elite 2 : 0 BRYC 94 Elite
Prediction: Correct

Reston 94 Knights 3 : 2 Team America Barcelona
Prediction: Correct. And with the 1-goal difference perhaps proving we were also correct picking this as the “game to watch” and most likely to be an upset?

Team America 94 2 : 4 Annandale United Force
Prediction: Correct

Sunday’s Schedule and [Prediction]
12:15 PM Reston 94 Knights v Annandale United Force [W] | West Creek: 8
1:30 PM Great Falls 94 Elite v PWSI Courage 94 Red [W] | West Creek: 5

Team: Reston 94 Knights
Club: Reston Soccer Association
Head Coach: Ty Lewis
Home League: NCSL, Division 1
U15 State Cup Finish: Champions – Defeated Beach FC Red 2-1 in final
GotSoccer State Rank: 4 (15,305 points)
RaS State Rank: 1 (23,373 points)
Goals in 2010 Cup: 8 scored, 3 allowed
How They Got Here:
Sep 25, 2010 won 1-0 Reston 94b Hearts of Oak
Oct 2, 2010 won 4-1 Richmond Strikers Elite
Oct 30, 2010 won 3-2 Team America Barcelona

Team: Annandale United Force
Club: Annandale Boys and Girls Club
Head Coach: Danny Wadeson
Home League: NCSL, Division 1
U15 State Cup Finish: Lost to Herndon Real Juniors in Quarterfinals
GotSoccer State Rank: 6 (6,016 points)
RaS State Rank: 2 (17,317 points)
Goals in 2010 Cup: 14 scored, 3 allowed
How They Got Here:
Sep 25, 2010 won 5-0 Chesapeake Hea
Oct 02, 2010 won 5-1 FCR Magic
Oct 30, 2010 won 4-2 Team America 94

Team: Great Falls 94 Elite
Club: Great Falls Soccer
Head Coach: Ed Beach
Home League: NCSL, Division 1
U15 State Cup Finish: Lost 1-3 to Virginia Legacy Wizards in opening round
GotSoccer State Rank: 3 (17,224 points)
RaS State Rank: 3 (17,252 points)
Goals in 2010 Cup: 7 scored, 1 allowed
How They Got Here:
Sep 25, 2010 won 3-0 FASA Elite 94
Oct 02, 2010 won 2-1 Beach FC Red 94
Oct 30, 2010 won 2-0 BRYC 94 Elite

Team: PWSI Courage 94 Red
Club: Great Falls Soccer
Head Coach: Ken Krieger
Home League: NCSL, Division 1
U15 State Cup Finish: Lost 3-4 to Beach FC Red in quarterfinals
GotSoccer State Rank: 1 (20,780 points)
RaS State Rank: 4 (13,231 points)
Goals in 2010 Cup: 7 scored, 1 allowed
How They Got Here:
Sep 25, 2010 won 2-1 Springfield Boca 94
Oct 02, 2010 won 3-0 McLean MPS 94 Hotspur Green
Oct 30, 2010 won 2-0 Arlington FC 94 Blue

U15 Boys 

2:00 PM – Field 5
SOCA Lightning 0 : 6 Great Falls Rangers 95
Great Falls took our prediction of their championship favor to heart, scoring the opening goal in this rout inside of the first two minutes, and never looked back. They methodically scored at even intervals throughout each half, and look really hard to stop. To make the performance even more special, several goals were just plain delicious, with quick play and sublime finishing by the team Captain. We’re still picking them to win it all, and after seeing this display, think it’s going to be by more than just the 2-1 score we originally expected.

2:00 PM – Field 6
Beach FC Red 95 2 : 0 Great Falls Venom 95
In the story of the little D3 team that could, Great Falls Venom coaches very likely stressed the importance of not going down early, that every minute they held off their higher-division opponents, the better their chances. So much for that plan – Beach FC scored very early, and the mumbling around the spectators and lingering coaches on the sidelines was “oh, that’s the division 3 team, this could get ugly”. Far from it, the Venom train regularly with their Rangers club mates, and early goal conceded aside, their preparation showed. Not only did they get this far in a tough tournament, they showed they could compensate for their smaller size with good organization, emphasis on playing simple balls, and never giving up. In what looked to some might be a rout after that early goal, the Venom held on tight, and had several attacking forays of their own. This team shouldn’t be in division 3 for long. That said, Beach FC were a physically stronger team, with a calm midfield and dangerous attack, but they are going to have to play with a lot more bite and speed if they’re to stand a chance on Sunday against the Rangers.

U18 Girls

10:00 AM – Field 7
Loudoun 92 Red 0 : 1 McLean Azul
The Azul are back! After missing out on last year’s U17 final in an 8-round PK shootout in the rain, the Azul moved clubs from BRYC to McLean, and then Kaitlin Brooks scored in the waning minutes of a tight match to return her exstatic team to the finals for the sixth time in their seven year State Cup history. And if that history is any indicator, they should win tomorrow too, as they’ve never lost a State Cup final in which they’ve competed. This match went against our predictions, as we felt Loudoun had the ammunition to pull this one out, but anytime you neutralize Whitney Church, it’s a good game, and with no goal to Loudoun’s credit, the Azul accomplished that task.

10:00 AM – Field 
Richmond Strikers Elite 0 : 2 Beach FC Red
Beach FC stormed into the finals by taking an early lead against the defending champions and never taking their foot off the gas. They defended valiantly in repelling several Richmond attacks, but they didn’t break, and got another first-half goal for their efforts. Both Beach goals were scored by Holley Beasley, one un-assisted, and another assisted by Brittney London. The 0-0 second half put Beach FC in the finals as we predicted.

With our original Loudoun pick out of the Cup, this final can easily go either way. Based on the quality of play today, Beach looked the better team, but the Azul are highly motivated and will prove a tough test. We think this final will go into OT, and if we must choose – have to go with the Azul to take home their sixth Cup.

U17 Girls

12:00 PM – Field 7
Chantilly Burn 3 : 0 FC Virginia 93 Cardinals
The Chantilly Burn are back in the finals again after this win against an ever-improving Cardinals team. Most of the match was closer than the score looks, but the Burn scored relatively early in the first half to take tactical control of the game and force the Cardinals to play more on their front foot. There were several close calls, and some aggressive play by both sides, and with about 15 minutes left the Burn broke the Cardinals pressure to go 2-0 up. Still reeling from that goal the ECNL side must have fallen asleep at the wheel from the next re-start, and the Burn pounced in their next possession immediately to ice the game with a 3rd goal. Their victory likely felt even sweeter as they were surely aware their top rivals were on the opposite end of their own 3-0 game.

12:00 PM – Field 8
McLean MPS 93 Strikers 0 : 3 Virginia Rush Nike 93
Yes, you read the score right. In the biggest upset of the day – if not entire 2010 competition, the National Championship semifinalist McLean Strikers fell to an aggressive and precise Virginia Rush team that will now have their confidence soaring heading into Sunday’s final. It’s the first time we could find the Strikers losing by 3 goals since the 2009 Jefferson Cup. The goals were no flukes though; Rush deserved every one of them, and simply out-paced and out-worked the Striker’s defense, who had no anwser.

The Strikers’ loss throws our original prediction of a 2-0 championship win over the Burn out the window, but of the two games we thought there might an upset, it wasn’t the Strikers’. If the Burn can handle Rush’s attacking speed and power, they should return to the top of State Cup podium after relinquishing it last year to the Strikers.

U16 Girls

12:00 PM – Field 4
CYA Firecats 2 : 0 Richmond Kickers Elite
The defending Champions are headed back to final this year after this 2-0 win over the only local team in this age group (and one of the only local teams in the cup at all). Danielle Fitzgerald had one goal, and someone may have gotten a hair on the end of Danielle Hester’s cross, but we think it was going in anyway. We got this prediction right, but not their opponents in Sunday’s final.

12:00 PM – Field 6
FC Virginia 94 Hotspur 2 : 4 VSA Heat Blue 
After frustration last year losing to the Hotspur in the semifinals, the Heat returned the favor this year, storming into the finals to face anther huge rival in the CYA Firecats. After a scoreless first half, the Heat’s Mo Pinkston broke the ice on what would be an exciting second half with a sharp free kick. Ashley Herndon notched two more, but the Hotspur answered with two of their own before Allie Bunner put the game out of reach. Bunner’s goal was an exhibition of speed, power, and precision that will be needed if the Heat want to take the bite out of the Firecats on Sunday. We got this pick wrong, expecting the Hotspur to return to the final for a rematch with CYA after last years’ ice bowl final (played on a November weeknight in near freezing weather).

The Heat looked impressive, and are going to be a tough match for the Firecats. We think too much after what we saw today, so are going with them to win in another high-scoring affair. Let’s say Heat 3, Firecats 2 – possibly needing OT to do it.
U15 Girls

2:00 PM – Field 7
Springfield Xtreme White 2 : 0 McLean MPS 95 Green Fury 
The Xtreme scored one in each half to move to finals. It was a revenge match after falling to the same McLean side 1-2 this past spring in the U14 competition. We picked this one right, feeling the Xtreme would then go on to beat FC Virginia in the final – but that’s not going to happen since FCV is out.

2:00 PM – Field 8
NVSC Jr. Majestics 95 Gold 5 : 2 FC Virginia 95 
We just didn’t give this team enough credit, as they put on one of the best performances of the day against an FC Virginia team that just knocked out the defending champs 4-0 in the quarterfinals. This Majestics team has been together for quite a while, with a large core of the same players, who are clearly very comfortable with each other. They took the lead early, but then threatened to allow FCV back in the match – including watching a shot off the frame. It wasn’t to be though, and that scare woke up their attack again, allowing them to pull ahead by two before the halftime break. The second half was closer, with five more goals scored by the two sides. But every time FCV put one in to draw closer, the Majestics answered, and never really looked in danger of losing.

Are we allowed to revise our predictions? It’s going to be a good final, but after seeing the Majestics’ form, they look unstoppable. Look for them to win 3-1 over the the Xtreme on Sunday.

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