As time began to wind down on St. Croix Red Bulls tilt with FC Golden State, the crowd at NSC Stadium continued to appear tentative.
After falling to Elgin Pumas and Brookfield SA, the Red Bulls, from Minnesota, weren’t expected to contend with one of the tournament’s most exciting squads, the number-five ranked U16 boys team in the nation.
After a hard fought contest that included plenty of back-and-forth action the St. Croix Red Bulls of Minnesota upset the top-seeded team in the U16 Super Elite, FC Golden State
St. Croix however, was happy to play the spoiler, downing FC Golden State 1-0 in a hotly contested pool play match in NSC Stadium.
“It’s a big win for us,” head coach Phil Walczak said. “It’s probably one of the best wins that this team has ever had.”
Golden State controlled play for lengthy stretches of the game, but was unable to solve goalkeeper Hayden Butzlaff, who withstood an early barrage by the highly touted California club’s relentless attack.
“It was hard to get through that mentally, but our defense has always stepped up,” Butzlaff said. “Defense is the strongest part of our team, they always save my butt.”
St. Croix finally broke through near the midway point of an aggressive first half, converting on a two-man breakaway for the game’s lone tally.
The state’s top-ranked U16 boys squad fell back into Walczak’s now customary defensive scheme, holding Golden State scoreless despite spending much of the match in their own end.
“The mental side, we weren’t there concentrating, so they got in there a couple times early,”
Walczak said. “Fortunately for us they weren’t spot on with their finishes.”
For its part, however, St. Croix’s defensive efforts held strong.
Midfielder Kristofer Broughton bailed Butzlaff out early, after his diving stop near the goal line kept Golden State off the board once again.
In the end however, Golden State was unable to solve Walczak’s defensive scheme, ceding the no. 1 ranking in Pool A of the Super Elite to Elgin Pumas from Illinois.
Golden State soccer director Thales Peterson sees the loss as yet another learning experience for his often dominant squad.
“It’s not easy; it’s one of the first times that we’ve faced that kind of adversity against us,” he said. “I think it’s very good for the kids to learn how to do it.”
Despite the loss, FC Golden State moved into semifinals of the U16 division. Even with the big win, St. Croix’s two previous losses ended their tournament.
FC Golden State plans to use the experience as a tune-up before heading to Kansas in just a few days for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
“We’re preparing to play nationals right now, where every game is going to be a battle,” he said. “So it was a good learning experience for them.”
Golden State kicked off the tournament by downing Brookfield SA Red 7-0, before playing Elgin Pumas to a scoreless draw. The team finished in 2nd place in the U16 Super Elite division’s Pool A, despite the loss to St. Croix, with a record of 1-1-1.
The match highlighted a strong day of play across the Super Elite tournament.
Elgin ultimately won Pool A in the U16 boys’ division, finishing 1-0-2. In Pool B, Minnesota Thunder Academy went undefeated to secure the number one ranking heading into the semifinals, before downing Golden State 5-1 in late-night semifinal action.
Costa Rican side Regional Proyecto Gol downed Elgin Pumas 1-0, and will take on MTA Sunday in the finals.
Meanwhile, in the U16 girls division, Japanese side Tokiwagi Gauken continued its dominance at USA CUP, winning Pool A with a record of 2-0-1.
NSSA Blast finished undefeated in Pool B, with a record of 3-0, advancing to the semifinals as the number one seed.
NSSA would eventually fall to another Minnesota Thunder Academy squad, who will face Tokiwagi in the finals.
On the U14 boys’ side, St. Croix rolled to a 3-0 finish in Pool A, while PSA’s 2-1 record was enough to lock up Pool B.
Finally, in U14 girls’ play, 3-1 Minnesota Thunder Academy topped the lone pool, and will face the number two ranked Omaha FC in the finals.
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Tag(s): July 13, 2013