Back to defend its National Championship crown is Tampa Bay United (FL), who opened up its title defense in the 17U Boys age group at the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships with a 3-1 victory over Galaxy 2001 Blue (IL).
While the defending champions opened up the 2017 National Championships with a loss, Tampa Bay did just the opposite this year as they know just how difficult the road is to earning the crown.
“It’s a humbling experience being here,” Said head coach Kelvin Jones. “It’s very difficult getting to the National Championship and then to get back again, we really understand how difficult it is.”
Tampa Bay scored early with a goal from midfielder John Casey just six minutes in. The two teams battled back and forth in the first half with Galaxy earning a corner kick late in the half that missed just left of the net. At the end of the first half, Tampa led 1-0.
In the second half, the physical play continued between the two. Four minutes into the second half, forward Andres Ojeda scored on an assist from defender Trevor Stanley to give the lead back to Tampa Bay. Just five minutes later, defender Cameron Strang scored to cut Galaxy’s deficit to one. Galaxy kept battling as defender Jack Olsen earned a free kick late that was saved by the keeper. The win for Tampa Bay was secured in the 82nd minute when midfielder Jeffrey Masser netted his first goal of the tournament.
As they look to defend their National Championship, Tampa Bay knows that they have to keep their foot on the gas against the tough competition.
“It’s a great experience trying to go for it again and relive this amazing experience playing against the top level teams,” added Tampa Bay’s John Casey. “The early goal told us to keep our foot on the pedal.”
Tampa Bay looks to earn its second win of the tournament tomorrow afternoon as they face off against McLean Green 01 (VA).