Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA) made its way into the 16U Boys semifinal after taking a narrow 1-0 victory over Club Ohio Green 1 (OH-S).
In an incredibly tight Group B, both teams knew that the winner of the game would go on to the semifinal, but a tie would result in neither team going through.
“It’s been one of those groups where we knew it would probably come down to the final day, the final minutes, and it did,” Washington Premier head coach Jason Prenovost said. “I felt good about coming into this group because we really wanted to play the best teams. That’s always been our mentality, and we were excited when we saw who was in our group.”
Club Ohio started off with high pressure, using the right flank to create several of its plays. One of its eye-opening chances took place when Ryan Walters sent a long shot from about 25 yards out that skimmed over the crossbar.
Both teams continued to work in the second half, understanding that it was a must-win game for the both of them, but it was only Washington Premier who found the back of the net. In the 56th minute, Logan Oyama found a pocket of space at the top of the 18-yard box to blast the ball into the upper net.
“We get our chances and we take advantage of them, so we got our chance and I ended up tucking it away,” Oyama said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates making runs off and pulling defenders away, so it was a real team effort out there.”
From there, the game picked up pace as Washington Premier searched for another, and Club Ohio realized it needed two goals to stay in the National Championships. Washington Premier’s Braeden Pryor took on defenders often to try to put another goal away, but a second goal never came.
It was a defending game in the final minutes of the match for Washington Premier as Club Ohio tried to put the ball anywhere near the goal to give itself any sort of chance of scoring. An extremely close opportunity for Club Ohio came as the ball was lofted towards the goal, and the ball bounced past the Washington Premier goalkeeper, but with the help of some defenders, the ball steered clear of the goal.
“We handle pressure really well, and we know we’re probably not the most talented team out here, but we fight all the time, and that’s who we are. We defend and then we get out and attack,” Oyama said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be with. We went into this game and knew it was going to be a battle, but nothing good ever comes easy. We’re trying to do something great here, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Washington Premier’s hard work definitely paid off as it will meet 02 NCFC Elite (NC) in the semifinal match on Saturday, July 28 at 7 a.m.
“I’ve loved the attitude of these boys for a long time,” Prenovost said. “They’re grinders. It’s kind of how we’ve gotten where we are. It’s just fighting out every minute, every second. These guys worked their hardest to try to take advantage of it all. I always feel good about these guys because I know they’re going to give an honest effort and give us a chance to find a victory.”