Alpharetta Ambush 93 Red (GA) 1-1
YMS Thunder (E-PA)
Alpharetta Ambush 93 Red (GA) is where it wants to be, in the final game with a chance to repeat as US Youth Soccer national champions. The final preliminary game for the 2010 title holders turned into a preview of Sunday's national championship final as they tied YMS Thunder (E-PA).
For the second night in a row, Alpharetta gave up an early goal and had to fight back from a 1-0 deficit. For the second night in a row, Bo Stroup sent in a free kick that was nodded home by a teammate at the back post. Friday night, it was Karl Chester's turn to put Stroup's service away.
"Bo's putting great balls in last night and today," Chester said. "Me and Darion Copeland were setting picks for each other. Tonight, I was actually setting a pick for him when the ball came to me and I was just thinking one thing—either I put it in and we go to the finals or I miss it and we go home. It went my way and it went our way so can't ask for anything more."
Chester's equalizer in the 56th minute heightened the already high emotion on the field.
"I'd been having a hamstring problem all night, but when I scored it all went away," Chester said. "When I jumped up nobody would've guessed that I was hurting or what not. But the adrenaline was pumping, we all were pumped. We wanted to get another one and get the win. But we tied, but we're still going to the final so it's all good."
With the finals berth, Alpharetta is in a position few teams every get at the youth level, in a national championship title game for the second-straight year.
"It means a lot to be here," Bo Stroup said. "I know a lot of teams would die to have our opportunity to play in the national championship for one time, everyone dreams of that. But two times, you can't even dream it."
In the final, Alpharetta will have to face a YMS team that is used to playing, and succeeding, against the odds.
"There are people in our area who never thought this team could get there. I've taught them to never quit and that's what they've never done for us," YMS head coach Albert Pricket said. "Sunday's final will be a great game with two really good teams. We're hoping they can win on Sunday, but it's two very well matched teams."
Pricket's counterpart on Sunday, Alpharetta coach David Eristavi, feels his team is finally playing the soccer he wanted to see all tournament leading up to the final game.
"This YMS team is a good team, a very good team, and it will be a nice final in the final game," Eristavi said. "We had a lot of opportunities. Tonight, the boys started to play. Now we play now we spray the ball. We needed a few days to adjust to the weather and the environment. No, finally, they started playing. I'm very happy with today's game."
What's Eristavi's strategy for bringing home back-to-back championships to his small-town club? That's simple.