Entering Thursday’s Under-13 Boys matchup, GSA 01 Premier (GA) found itself fighting for a spot in the finals — needing a positive result for a chance to move on to Saturday’s championship game.
Unfortunately for the Georgia side, its opponent, WAZA FC East 01 Juniors (MI), played with the composure and calmness of a veteran team as it controlled the tempo of the game en route to a 3-0 win on the final day of group play at the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard, in Germantown, Md.
Though GSA came out with a must-win mentality, needing at least a tie to have a chance at advancing, it was the Michigan side that stepped on the field and immediately created trouble for its opponent.
“I thought this was the best game we’ve played so far,” WAZA coach Gronthik Chatterjee. “The last two games, it took us a little while to get into the game. Today, I thought right from the start we were moving the ball very well, connecting a lot of passes and really imposing ourselves on our opponent.”
WAZA wasted little time in grabbing an advantage in the fourth minute, as Gianni Ferri finished off a series of passes by beating the keeper with his shot from the left side of the box. A similar build-up just three minutes later resulted in a David Preciado goal to put the Michigan side up, 2-0.
GSA composed itself and pushed back with some pressure of its own, but the WAZA back line never panicked. The defenders maintained total control, as they strung numerous passes together throughout the game to play the ball safely out of the back.
In the 29th minute, Preciado added to the WAZA lead when he buried a half volley into the back of the net off of a perfectly placed cross to the back the post.
GSA came close to pulling a goal back midway through the second half, but it saw a strike hit the crossbar and header go just wide of the post. However, that’s as close as the Georgia side came, as WAZA secured the 3-0 win.
The victory wrapped up a dominant round of group play by the Michigan side, as it outscored opponents 9-0. It will now meet FC Golden State PDA 01 (CA-S), which it beat 4-2 in their first matchup, in Saturday’s Under-13 Boys final. The game will be streamed live online at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Chatterjee knows it will difficult to beat a team twice in the span of a few days, but he’s confident with how his team has performed through three games.
“We’re here at Nationals playing teams we’ve never played before, so we don’t know exactly what to expect,” Chatterjee said. “All of the teams have slightly different strengths and different attributes that make them good quality teams to get to this level. With our ability to handle to all the different things we’ve seen so far, I’m very, very proud of those boys.”