Crew Jrs clinch spot in final
After a tough loss on day one, Empire United SA (NY-W) capitalized on an early chance against Crew Jrs (OH-S) for a goal in the 5th minute by Emmanual Chanelo.
Comprised of some of the top talent from across the country, Crew Jrs kept its composure and scored a goal of its own five minutes into the second half off the boot of Matthew Walker (Xavier).
"We missed a lot of chances in the first half—myself included," Walker said. "We settled ourselves down and said we know we can win, we know what we are capable and we were confident. When we got the first one, the second one just came and felt right."
In the 85th minute, Will Walker (Xavier) found Cole Denormandie (Cincinnati) at the penalty spot and he buried the game winner for Crew Jrs and secured his team a place in the nationally televised McGuire Cup final game Saturday.
"I don’t get nervous because I have seen them come through over and over again throughout the summer," Crew Jrs coach Ian Gordona said. "It is one of those things where mentally, physically and emotionally nothing really phases this team. Even being down 1-0 against a team that wasn’t giving up shots you just have that sense that they were going to be able to find a way to do it."
Despite already advancing, Gordona doesn’t anticipate wholesale changes on Friday.
"I think you take tomorrow like any other game," he said. "This team is on a roll and we want to keep it going. Getting to the final is obviously a big step. It is a stress off their shoulders, but again I want them to keep going. These boys have been playing well and I don’t think I’m going to change much."
West Coast FC and GSA Phoenix draw
Seeking its first title game appearance in three tries, GSA 93 Phoenix Red (GA) took the early lead over West Coast FC (CA-S) when Tyler Peoples (Furman) nodded home a corner kick.
"They had one guy up top in the first 15 minutes who was doing well and giving us trouble. They had a good corner kick and they had good service," West Coast FC head coach Braeden Cloutier. "I told my team that in this tournament set pieces are crucial. It isn’t like a season where things like that balance out. Set pieces in this can kill you. We weren’t sharp and they scored the header."
Despite giving up the early goal, West Coast FC dictated much of the play and finally capitalized on a set piece of their own in the 53rd minute to level the game. Phil Muscarella (Santa Clara) served in the free kick that Juan Gutierrez (California Irvine) flicked in for the goal. Muscarella and Gutierrez teamed up again just 10 minutes later as West Coast played the ball wide and Muscarella served in a curling, dipping ball and Gutierrez headed it home with authority. Just 10 minutes from time, GSA’s Tyler Happ (Clemson) equalized against the run of play and secured the 2-2 draw.
GSA moves into the final day of play in control of its path to the final game. West Coast will need help to face Crew Jrs on Saturday.
"When these players were 14’s we were in a similar scenario at the national championships, sitting at two points after two games," Cloutier said. "It looked like we didn’t have a chance but we needed a result on the either field and we got that. We were down 2-0 and then scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to send us to the championship game. All of these guys know there is still and chance and that there is hope, so they are going to give everything they got."