Chuck Keers is the Executive Director of Oregon Youth Soccer Association.
It was only 92 degrees at 9:30 Sunday morning when the U18 Boys Premier from The Westside Metros Soccer Club faced off against the Nevada Players SB in the championship match of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals. The winners would advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships in South Carolina in July.
The Premier had played the Players in the first preliminary round of the tournament and defeated them 2-1 but this team had five new players who were away at High School graduation during the preliminaries.
The first ten minutes were uneventful with neither team threatening. Premier player Austin Jacobson was injured and down for almost two minutes but managed to walk off the pitch on his own power.
Nevada threatened at minute 17 and again at minute 22. A couple of minutes later Westside striker Alex Thomas headed a shot on goal that bounced back and he struck it again at a steep angle that was close but was deflected again by a defender. I think these were our first serious shots on goal.
Nevada threatened again at minute 30 and Premier Keeper James Nielssen made a terrific save. At minute 34 Hogan Marhoefer struck the ball hard toward the goal but again it was deflected away.
At minute 44 Nielssen made four more great saves in a row, the last one requiring a full body dive and a one hand deflection of what would have been a sure goal to the far corner.
The first half ended 0-0, but Nevada clearly had more chances. Credit great defense by the Premier and some terrific saves by Nielssen.
The temperature had risen to 96 degrees by the start of the second half and there was a steady breeze blowing across the field. Nevada came out strong and James and the rest of the Westside Premier continued to aggressively defend against multiple shots on goal.
The 0-0 tie was broken just one minute after the water break in the second half when the action paused briefly by what most everybody thought was an offsides call, but a Nevada Player continued the play and dribbled it in for a goal. No offsides. 0-1 Nevada.
Two minutes later Nevada almost scored again, and again Nielssen denied them.
By minute 83, even I could tell that the Premier were becoming frustrated. The Nevada team was beating them to the ball and controlling it better after they won it and were making more shots on goal. Alex picked up a yellow card and a few minutes later a Nevada player went down and had to leave the game.
It was sad, but somehow appropriate that the game ended seconds after yet another great save by James Nielssen. The Players had a free kick that bent completely around the wall and was destined for the corner, were it not for another diving save by Nielssen.
The men from Westside played a great game against a tougher and faster team than the one they had met earlier in the tournament. Coaches Chris Thurley and Mike Taylor both praised them all for their great performance. It wasn't the result they wanted, but second out of every U18 boys club team in the 14 states in the Western United States with the guts to compete is a world class achievement.
A hat-trick by Alex Thomas did the trick for the U18 B WSM Premier today against a very strong Hawaii HSC Bulls 94 Ka'ula wild card team.
Hawaii scored in the fourth minute on a tight angle shot to the far post giving them an early lead.
The Premier threatened several times in the first thirty minutes but couldn't get it where it needed to go. I left to check some other games and when I returned in the second half, the Premier had solved that problem by scoring twice. The score was 2-1 in favor of the good guys. I was told that Alex had scored on a headder late in the first half and a strike during play in the second.
I watched for a few more minutes - long enough to see the Premier commit a foul in the box and give Hawaii a PK - which they unceremoniously capitalized on, bringing it to 2-2.
I figured it was going to go to overtime and perhaps I was bad luck, so I left to check out another game.
When I returned, the game had just ended and the Premier were celebrating. I could tell right away it was not overtime that they were so happy about. In my absence the Bulls had committed a handball in the box and Alex had scored his third goal with the resulting PK. Final score 3-2. Final result - the U18 Boys Final match tomorrow at 9:30 AM against Nevada.
It was a long morning for the U19 Portland FC 92B Navy. Portland showed well for the first 25 minutes or so and held AZ scoreless through the first half. Kyle Foster, the Keeper for the Blue, made save after save - and at minute 35 he deflected a rocket propelled sure-goal with lighting speed and one hand that made the spectators roar with appreciation.
Arizona warmed up and more or less dominated the second half. I didn't see much of it, but when I returned to the game it was 2-0, AZ. Kyle made several more great saves until an Arizona player arched one into the far corner just under the bar.
The final score was 3-0, but the Navy played a good game against a very strong Arizona team. It was a great effort and a good game for the young men of FC Portland - even if it wasn't a great result.
I didn't get to see as much of the U16B WSM Galacticos game against Cal South's Arsenal FC Lucy (WC) team because their field was on the other side of the complex from the other two early morning games. I did see the Westside keeper, Quinnton Marshall (?), make a great save on a corner kick at about minute 50.
The score was 0-1 at the half in favor of Cal South. I'm told the Galacticos had lots of chances, but the goal was just inches too small. I did see Alex Segovia almost tie the game with just minutes left with quick kick in traffic that bounced back hard against the left post. That brought a roar from this crowd as well.
Sadly, the Galacticos winning streak came to an end minutes later. The final score was 1-0.
The U14B Willamette United FC Arsenal fought a very tough Cal South Santa Barbara SC White team this morning at 10:00 AM. Yesterday's game started late and went long, but today everything started on time.
The fates were not as friendly today, however, as Cal scored at minute 12 to give them the early lead. At minute 17 Santa Barbara scored again on a shot that the Arsenal keeper couldn't pull in. It slipped sideways and a Cal South player attacked it for the score. Just that fast it was 2-0.
Rene Flores brought the Arsenal within one, but then a quick pass and a shot on the right side found the net for the White. It was 1-3 and Cal seemed to be in control.
The young men from Oregon fought hard, though. With only 5 minutes left in the game Kirubel Zewdie fed it through a gap in the defense to Rene who powered it past the keeper for his second goal of the game to bring it to within one of overtime.
But it just wasn't to be for these young State Champions - at least not this year. Third in the Region is still quite an accomplishment. Congratulations men - and congratulations to all of Oregon Youth Soccer's State Champions who represented us so well.
It was 88 degrees at 7 am as the game began between the U19B from FC Portland - the B92 Navy and the Real Colorado Nationals.
It was pretty even through the first 20 minutes. Colorado scored on the left side through a narrow target to put them up 1-0.
Eaten Jones hit a hard headder that sailed inches over the bar 2 minutes into the second half.
Colorado scored again on a perfect cross and a perfect headder 10 minutes later - putting them up 2-0.
Matt Sheldon got the Navy in contention with a great goal at minute 62. Three minutes later Jacob Bishop tied it all with a great goal through traffic. The momentum was turning and play stopped for another water break.
At minute 85 Matt Wise made a great headder off of a corner to put Portland ahead for the first time in the game.
Keeper Kyle Foster made several great saves during the game including one remarkable one handed stop with only 2 minutes left.
That was the game. The men battled back from a 2-0 deficit to advance to the Semi-Finals of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regionals.
After the game coach Jeff Gadawski told the team, "You were down 2-0 but you never let your heads go down. I am so proud of you I can hardly speak."