By Matt Leonard (Head Coach)
The College Surf Cup was an incredible experience for our Spokane Shadow Boys U18 Super. In the first game, we allowed a goal in the first 2 minutes versus United FC Black from Cal South. They were ranked 9th in the Nation and #2 in Southern California. Our tentative start would not last. We bounced back and responded with a scrappy goal in the box won after a few bounce around challenges byJamal Angell to even the score. The score remained with full time and the goal given up would be the last one against the team the rest of the tournament.
In the second game, we faced Davis SC Legacy, ranked 21st in the Nation and 5th in Northern California. Both team created chances to score throughout the game but the deadlock was broken when a well played pass from Devin Allen fed Jamal Angell through the last 2 defenders where he hammered a finish past the goalkeeper to give us a 1-0 win late in the second half. Our team was feeling some momentum going into the last game.
In our last preliminary game, we played Juventus, ranked #19 in the Nation, and 3rd in Northern California. Another goal from Jamal Angelloff a Matt Bray corner kick late in the first half game us a surge of momentum heading into the second half. This energy carried into the second half and an excellent through ball from Matt LaPlante into the feet of Matt Harper who surged past the last defender and tucked the finish just out of the reach of the charging goalkeeper. This goal provided the final spark of energy the team needed to win the game and advance to the Semi-Finals.
The opponent for our Semi-Final, Santa Clara Sporting, ranked 7th in the Nation and #2 in Northern California, was a bit familiar. We had faced them earlier in the year at their invitational tournament in July where we had lost 2-0 to them in the quarterfinals. The players were excited for the rematch. It showed in our excitement and celebration as we scored first on a cross from Jordan Etten that was deflected in by a Santa Clara defender who had stepped into the path of the cross in an attempt to prevent Jamal Angell from picking up his 4th goal. Jordan Etten’s effort and aggressive attacks at the Santa Clara goal carried into the second half when he picked up a short deflected pass from a ball lost by a Sporting defender who had been stripped of possession. Jordan, very composed on the play, dribbled past an onrushing goalkeeper and cleanly passed the ball under a covering defender who was a split second late on the play. The score line held and we were onto the finals to face Palo Alto, winners of their bracket and who had beaten the Texas Fire in penalties in their Semi-Final after regulation and overtime ended 2-2.
The championship game would prove to be our toughest as our opponent was a very talented and exceptional squad. Palo Alto was ranked 4th in the Nation, 1st in the Region, and 1st in Northern Cal. The first half saw momentum and possession swing both directions. A punt fromCurtis Hill, headed on by Jamal Angell, to an on-running Christian Foster, who buried the ball in the side netting proved to be the game winner. We held of many late surges and stood strong. We were able to keep possession in their half late in to the game and sealed the victory with the ball deep in their territory.
Our keeper, Curtis Hill, and the rest of the backline, which at times included a variety of players throughout the tournament, played outstanding and came up with big stops and timely clearances. To give up just one goal in the entire run of the tournament was incredible. Curtis Hill was also given an individual award at the Surf Cup Awards presentation. He was presented with the Goal Keeper of the Surf Cup Award, which was voted on by the college coaches there in attendance there to scout players.
The win was truly an incredible team effort. I can honestly say that every individual on the team stepped up and did their jobs to their fullest. Each player’s commitment to the team and to what each game needed was remarkable. Not every player’s contribution is listed in the box score, but each member of the team played an integral role in attaining this championship.