In the last ten years, only three teams have started off their National Championship careers with an Under-14 and Under-15 Championship. So Cal United Boys (CA-S) did it in 2005 and 2006, and Baltimore Casa Mia Bays Boys (MD) did it in 2007 and 2008.
The Fullerton Rangers (CA-S) added their names to that prestigious list today with a 1-0 victory over the Challenger Crew Jrs. Black (OH-N) in the Under-15 Boys finals at the 2012 US Youth National Championships. George Castro scored his fourth goal of the tournament, and the only one of the match.
"All humility aside, we are the best team in the country," Fullerton head coach Jimmy Obleda said. "This team has gone through adversity and it has made them better players and better human beings."
The two teams met in the first preliminary game this week, and the result was a one-sided affair that ended with a 4-0 Fullerton victory. But Challenger rallied to win its next two games and qualified for the finals. The second time around, the game was significantly closer, as Castro’s goal was the only one of the match.
The forward resembled a basketball player as he posted up his man inside of the box. In the 16th minute, Castro received an entry pass, did a quick turn to the outside and struck the ball home at the far post.
"My coaches encouraged me throughout the tournament saying that it was my time," Castro said. "That has been my kind of play where I post up my man, turn quickly and then finish. It has worked well in the tournament and worked well today."
Challenger had its fair share of chances against Fullerton. None was more dangerous than in the 18th minute when captain, Dominic Grida struck a shot from the top of the box that was saved by Fullerton keeper, Keith Murphy.
At the beginning of the tournament, the odds seemed to be stacked against the Rangers. The Rangers would be battling five other teams for a National Championship, as opposed to last year when they were fighting against three other teams for the title. On top of that, the Under-15 Boys group looked to be one of the more competitive groups. But at the end of the day, it was the Rangers who were hoisting the National Championship trophy for a second time.
"People were expecting one of the other teams to win the National Championship and dismissed our team, even though we won it last year," Obleda said. "So we came here and did what we had to. We stayed humble and played hard."
The Rangers have yet to concede a goal in eight National Championships games dating back to last year. In those games, Fullerton has racked up 20 goals. The 2013 National Championships are a long ways away, but with domination that Fullerton has displayed in the last two championships, one can only wonder if they have a shot of doing what only four youth soccer teams have ever done, win three straight national championships.
"I’m going to enjoy this once one right now. Not too many teams can say they have won two in a row," Obleda said. "We will come in with that goal next year, but for now we are going to enjoy this."