After going undefeated through the Midwest Regional Championships, Soccer Nation Academy 05 (KS) has secured its spot in the 13U Boys 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships after defeating Ukrainian National 2005 Black (PA-E) to earn its second win of the tournament.
The road to get here has not been easy for Soccer Nation as they now stand one game away from being crowned champions and reaching its ultimate goal.
“These have been the most intense and difficult games we have ever had,” head coach Luis Padilla said. “There’s a moment for everything, but the most important thing is to stay focused on our goal and keep working hard.”
Three minutes in to the game Soccer Nation earned a penalty kick three minutes in to the game, but the Ukrainian keeper made a diving save to keep the game knotted at zero. The Ukrainians had two early chances of their own to take the lead off corner kicks, but were unable to convert. The first goal of the game came from midfielder Brayden Ahlum who found the upper left corner off an assist from Jake Freedman in the 17th minute to give Ukrainians the lead. With a minute left in the first half, Anthony Castor netted the equalizer for Soccer Nation. The game was tied at one heading to halftime.
The teams kept up the physical back and forth play in the second half. Manuel Romero scored with eight minutes left in the game to give Soccer Nation the late lead. In stoppage time, Ukrainian earned a free kick with a minute left, but the kick sailed wide. Soccer Nation held on to win 2-1 en route to the championship game.
Castor has been a leader on the team to help get them to this point, scoring three goals in the first two games of the tournament. He sits on top of the 13U Boys top scorer list tied with three goals.
“It feels good to make it this far because this will be our first time getting to this point,” Castor added. “It’s hard, but we have to finish.”
Soccer Nation will find out its opponent tomorrow after group play finishes. The 13U Boys championship game will be played on Saturday at 7:30 P.M.