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Featured championship: Eden Prairie’s Matt Lindberg strikes twice in 2-1 victory over Cedar Stars, N.Y.

07/22/2017, 3:45pm CDT
By Patrick Malin, Media Intern

Matt Lindberg etched his name into Schwan’s USA CUP history on Saturday afternoon with a last minute championship-winning strike. In a thrilling match-up of unbeaten juggernauts, Lindberg’s Eden Prairie Soccer Club (EPSC) team took home the U17 Boys Gold championship by a 2-1 final score line over Cedar Stars Academy from Orange County, New York. 

EPSC and Cedar Stars Academy from Orange County, NY were evenly-matched titans in the U17 Boys Gold championship on Saturday.

EPSC had a late night at the National Sports Center (NSC) yesterday, when the team needed penalty kicks to take down Panama City FC for a shot at the title. Cedar Stars Academy made its presence felt early at USA CUP with an emphatic 11-0 win in their first group play game. Cedar Stars Academy took down an international powerhouse, Academy Sports Club from the Cayman Islands, to advance to the final. Both teams entered the championship without a loss on their record.

First on the score sheet in the U17 championship match was EPSC, courtesy of an excellent individual effort by Lindberg. Lindberg was played down the left wing by a beautiful pass from the midfield, where he was left with just one Cedar Stars player to beat. The EPSC forward cut back to the goal, flicked the ball over the opposing defender, controlled the ball with a perfect touch, and rocketed a shot that took a friendly deflection past the outstretched arms of the goalie.

Cedar Stars Academy replied swiftly in the 25th minute. Jorge Ramirez yanked down a Cedar Stars’ striker in the box to gift the New York club a golden opportunity to level the score. Zeme Rodriguez of Cedar Stars step up to the spot, sent the keeper diving the wrong way and slotted the kick into an open net to tie the game at one goal apiece.

EPSC threatened early in the second half, but Cedar Stars goalkeeper Dylan McDermott preserved the tie with a series of remarkable saves. Both teams peppered the crossbar with attempts in the second half, coming within just inches of gaining a late advantage. 

An injury halted play in the 88th minute of the title bout, allowing players to re-fuel and coaches to get one final word of advice to their players. EPSC proved to be the major benefactors from the stoppage.

“We changed our strategy up a little bit to sit back and win the ball, and counter quick on them instead of pressuring them. We knew they would give it to us in the midfield,” Lindberg said.

Following the restart of play, Marco Hernandez controlled the ball in the midfield, and played a ball into Lindberg at the edge of the box. Surrounded by five Cedar Stars defenders, Lindberg turned his first man, and left the next challenger on the ground with a brilliant fake shot. With the space he created, Lindberg blasted a shot across his body into the side-netting of the far left corner

“(Lindberg) brings a different dynamic to the game. He’s explosive, he’s smart, he’s intelligent, he knows how to turn on the ball, how to connect with other players,” said EPSC head coach Marco Hernandez. “He’s just an overall top player, definitely one of the best in Minnesota, if not the best.”

Eden Prairie Soccer Club took home the U17 Boys Gold championship on Saturday afternoon on a last-minute strike by forward Matt Lindberg.

Cedar Stars Academy would produce one final chance on a free kick in their offensive third, but EPSC goalie Daniel Munoz dealt with the shot calmly. Lindberg’s 89th minute goal would stand as the championship-clinching kick.


“They just had to believe in themselves. They really wanted it, they played through injuries, fatigue, heat, everything. It was just all heart and determination,” said Coach Hernandez.

“Last night, our game went into a PK shoot out and didn’t finish until 11:30p.m., so I didn’t want that game to go to waste. Obviously it’s for these boys, I just wanted to win for them. It was a team effort,” said Lindberg.

“They were prepared, they understood our game plan, they took care of themselves, they took ice baths, they drank a lot of water, they went to sleep early. In their minds, they really believed they were going to win it, and they followed through on that,” Coach Hernandez said. 

Tag(s): July 22, 2017