A back-and-forth battle in one of the 16U Boys semifinals led to a 3-2 win for WCFC Armour 2001 (CA-S) over CUP Gold 01 (OH-S).
“We just needed to work our hardest and play our game because we know when we play our game, we’re going to beat any team out there,” WCFC’s Eugene Van Der Watt said. “Today, we showed that we deserve to be in the final. We deserve to take the whole thing.”
While CUP held slightly more of the play in the beginning, WCFC soon generated more chances to eventually go up 1-0 with an Angel Franco goal. Eugene Van Der Watt played a through ball for Franco to run onto and blast a rocket of a shot over the keeper’s hands.
As the play remained in the middle of the field, WCFC held onto the lead through the half.
In the second half, an alternating scoring spree ensued. CUP leveled the game as a free kick on the right flank sent the ball into the 18-yard box. After the ball bounced off of a few CUP players, John Grinstead headed the ball home.
WCFC regained the lead right back when Franco dribbled the ball down the middle of the field and hit a low driven shot into the goal. Soon after, WCFC’s Domenyk Jara bent a corner kick inside the top back post for an olympico goal and to make it a 3-1 match.
Just three minutes later, CUP responded with a goal from Quinn Flaspohler to put CUP within one point once again.
“It’s nerve racking being a coach,” WCFC head coach Neil Armour said. “We completely dominated the first half, but we came out in the second half and we gave up a sloppy goal. You panic a little bit. Your legs are getting tired. We’re giving away a lot of free kicks. There’s a lot of long balls in the box, so it gets to be really tough. I’m really proud of how the guys fought through it. They were under a lot of pressure in the end, but we managed to hang in there. CUP is always a good team. They always give a class effort. They’re always hard to beat and well organized. They have a great club as a well.”
The last minutes of the game consisted of a frenzied scramble from both teams as CUP searched for the equalizer and WCFC wanted a goal for some breathing room. In the end, WCFC came out on top and is headed to the final match.
“At the beginning of the season when we entered all of the tournaments—the California Regional League, the National League, you go to the Regional Championships in Seattle—your goal is to come here and play here with the best teams,” Armour said. “You come here and you look at the lineups, you think, ‘Oh maybe we’ll get an easy game there. Maybe we’ll get an easy game there.’ But there’s no easy games.”
WCFC will face Tampa Bay United (FL) for the 16U Boys National Championship final on Sunday.