Heat FC 04 ET (NV) claimed the top spot in the 13U Boys age group after a 2-1 comeback victory against Real JFC (NJ).
“Several years ago, I told them our goal was to win a National Championship,” Heat FC head coach Esad Morina said. “At that time, that probably was just a joke, but obviously, we are here. We’re looking forward to it. It’s an absolute amazing feeling to be here, but our job just started.”
Both teams came out fighting and wanting a spot in the championship game. After some back-and-forth play, Real JFC went up 1-0 as Nicholas Yushchak ran onto a through ball behind the defenders, took on the Heat FC goalkeeper in a 1-v-1 situation and beat him to slip the ball into the net.
Heat FC gained a hopeful look when Nicholas Lazarski hit a left footed long shot, but Real JFC goalkeeper Matthew Marino leaped and tipped the ball over the goal.
In the second half, Heat FC showed determination to get into the game, and the Nevada side converted within the first five minutes. Michael Vela picked up the ball inside the 18-yard box and drove the ball over the goalkeeper.
“We were all looking for ourselves, dribbling a lot more than we needed to, taking a couple extra touches,” Heat FC’s Vicente Ayala said, talking about the difference of play in the second half. “Then once we started passing the ball around and putting them under pressure, we just finished our chances.”
Five minutes after the first goal, Heat FC stole the lead as Yuuto Marchal dribbled forward and cut the ball across the goal for Vela to place into the net, earning his second goal.
“Second half, I just told them what’s at stake,” Morina said. “They know what’s at stake but just to remind them to get back into the game. First half, we were more of an individual team where the second, we played more as a team. We knocked the ball around much quicker. We relied on each other. We closed the space much faster, so we were definitely a more complete team in the second half. That’s why we actually got a couple goals and created more chances.”
Heat FC continued to fire shot after shot, yet it was a 2-1 win in the end, and the team walked away pleased with its performance.
“As a team, we only have three choices, which is to give in, give up or give it all you got,” Vela said. “On all three of our games, we gave it all we got and we capitalized.”
Wednesday’s win marks Heat FC’s third victory of the event, and the Nevada side will face St. Louis Scott Gallagher Pre Academy 04 (MO) in the National Championship match on Saturday. The final game will be a rematch of the group game where Heat FC defeated St. Louis, 2-0.
“It feels great gaining confidence going into the finals, but we can’t take it for granted,” Heat FC’s Donald Kiernan said. “I just want to win this championship to prove that we are the best in the nation.”
On a final note, Heat FC’s Andrew Laszlo thinks about all of the work that the team has put in over the years and the overall goal.
“We didn’t start this year. We didn’t start two years ago,” Laszlo said. “We’ve been working since we started playing soccer and getting to this point. I think if we keep playing like we have been the past three games, we’ll win this championship.”