Tensions were high in a battle between 2011 US Youth Soccer National Champion Concorde Fire Elite (GA) and the 2009 National Champion West Coast FC (CA-S) for the right to play in the finals of the Under-18 Boys Division at the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships presented by the National Guard at Overland Park, Kan.
West Coast defeated Concorde 2-1, and started things off early when Samuel Mckay headed a cross into the middle of the box to an awaiting Conor Roche, who volleyed the ball into the back of the net in the ninth minute.
"We knew we wanted to get an early goal, because Concorde only needed a tie to advance," Roche said. "Sammy got a header into the box, and I was able to finish on the volley. We credit Concorde for playing a great game."
West Coast doubled their lead in the 52nd when forward Adam Lenth intercepted a back pass from a Concorde defender to his keeper. Lenth took a touch to the right before smoothly sending it home to put West Coast up 2-0.
However, the 2011 Champs would not go away without a fight. In the 68th minute, Levi Lewis’ throw-in acted as a corner as it flew all the way to the box. The ball pinged around the top of the box before Tyler Alexander knocked it home to make the score 2-1.
"When they scored with about 20 minutes left, things got a little sketchy," Roche said. "But we were able to stay composed and prevent them from scoring. That was the longest stoppage time of my life."
West Coast was able to prevent Concorde from adding an equalizer, and as the final whistle blew the entire bench erupted as the players celebrated on the field. After winning the National Championship at the Under-14 level, West Coast has returned to the finals after a three-year hiatus.
"This was a big year for us. We have six players from that 2009 team, and we know it is a marathon and not a sprint," West Coast coach Rick Brown said. "They know this is their last hurrah, and at the end of the day they are going to leave everything on the field."
West Coast will also bring their Under-17 Boys team to finals. In the Under-18 finals, West Coast will take on 2012 National Finalist Raiders FC Premier (IL). The match will take place on Sunday July 28th at 10:30 a.m. on field nine.
"For youth soccer this is the highest level for us. There isn’t another league, academy or anything else that is higher than this level," Brown said. "To know we are almost at the top of the mountain is very gratifying. Whether the team is from your own backyard, or it’s a team you have never seen before, we know every game is going to be a battle. That’s how it should