17U Boys SLSG Elite 01 (MO) and Santa Barbara Soccer Club (CA-S) each earned a point on Wednesday after playing to a 1-1 draw.
After both teams endured losses on Tuesday, both were hungry for a win to stay alive in National Championship play.
“The mindset today was definitely to come out and try to get three points or at least avoid a loss and keep ourselves in contention to move on,” SLSG forward Sam Rowan said. “I’d say on the second day of play, the nerves are gone, you’re a little tired down from the first day, got to work a little harder. The second day is one of the most important days because it can either give you a spot or knock you out. I think we’ve done well in still giving us a shot to move on.”
“We were heading into a game where both teams really wanted to win one – to try to position themselves better to make it top two to make it through,” SLSG head coach Jon Boyer said. “You’ve got to give it everything you got in each one. I feel like we did that to the best of our abilities today, and we need to get a result from the game tomorrow.”
Santa Barbara started off to a good start and scored in the ninth minute of the match as a combination play led to the ball being played across the goal for Hayden Carlson to finish the wide open shot at the back post.
SLSG did not allow Santa Barbara to keep up the pressure as the team earned several set pieces and chances on goal. One of those opportunities took place when Rowan dribbled the ball down the middle of the field and launched a low driven shot just wide right of the goal. Shortly after, Rowan also stepped up to take a free kick outside the 18-yard box, but his well-placed shot was tipped out by Santa Barbara goalkeeper Isaac Briner.
One of SLSG’s many consecutive chances resulted in a goal at the 37th-minute mark off a long diagonal free kick. The ball found SLSG’s Jack Douglas at the back post who dove for the ball head first to put it in the back of the net.
The second half had back-and-forth action with Santa Barbara taking on more of the attacking role. The Cal South side’s Musa Yansaneh and Frank Daroma got involved in a large amount of the play with a few shots each, but SLSG goalkeeper David Fitzgerald protected the goal by making key saves. One of SLSG’s final looks at goal took place when Trent Dolson ran the ball down the field off of a counter attack with a defender at his hip. Dolson was able to get a shot off, but the ball went over the goal.
Despite the tie, both teams could still make its way into the semifinal as Group B of the 17U Boys age group is a close race. Boyer discussed what will need to happen for Thursday’s match on the final day of group play.
“We’ve always approached it just one game at a time,” Boyer said. “We just have to have a strong mentality. We’ve had other periods of time during the season where we had to fight through some things and make the best out of the scenario that we’re in. That’s just kind of the mindset our guys continue to have.”