West Coast FC’s (CA-S) efforts to repeat as National Champions ended today after losing to Santa Barbara FC (CA-S) 4-0 in the Under-18 Boys semifinals at the US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard.
Santa Barbara, who is playing in the National Championships for the first time after winning their first region title, got off to an early start in the 13th minute when Joseph Hernandez finished off a low cross to the far post into the wide open net for the 1-0 lead. It was Hernandez again in the 36th minute when he escaped the West Coast defense down the left side of the box before sliding his shot just past the diving keeper to double Santa Barbara’s lead. Hernandez now leads the group with five goals in four games.
“Playing the defending National Champions, you definitely have a lot of respect for them, but we also had a lot of familiarity since we play we each other a lot in Cal South,” Raul Ybarra, who helped fill in as head coach for Rudy Ybarra, who was coaching his Under-16 Boys team at the same time, said. “We had a lot of confidence heading in and our boys came out flying.”
Santa Barbara’s Miguel Padron ended any West Coast hopes of a comeback in the second half with two insurance goals in the 57th and 67th minutes. Padron will head to the finals as the second leading scorer in the group with four goals.
“This is something we have wanted for the longest time, and we have tried and tried to get here and now we finally are. Coach Rudy knows that we love to play around off the field, but has done a great job at making sure we play our best on the field,” Santa Barbara captain Geoffrey Acheampong said. “Personally this is the best team I have ever played on, and we came into the game with the mentality that that any game you play could be your last and that we didn’t want to have any regrets when we walked off that field.”
Next up for Santa Barbara will be a day three rematch against Lehigh Valley United 95 (E-PA), who defeated Santa Clara Sporting 2-1 in a match where both teams knew they were already through to the semifinals. Lehigh Valley is heading to its first national final in its fourth attempt at nationals. The game will take place tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
“Once you get out of Cal South you have a lot of confidence because it is so hard to get out of,” Raul Ybarra said. “We want to finish as champions, and currently we are riding this wave of confidence and are playing some very good soccer.”
All finals matches will be streamed, and can be seen here: http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/live.