The 96 Boys Red traveled to Jacksonville FL to compete in their final tournament for the seasonal year, US Club Soccer’s Region C Championship. The Boys were slated in a "Super Group" of nationally ranked teams based in Florida. Saturday’s match paired the 96s against South Florida Elite. The Boys moved up 2-0 in the match, but created two back to back errors that gave South Florida Elite two Penalty Kick opportunities. Goal Keeper John Yarbrough successfully neutralized the first PK. But, within minutes South Florida was awarded another PK and made good on the second try. The match ended 2-1, Coast.
At the end of the day on Saturday the Boys were tied for first with Weston Fury Premier, who they met in the first match at 8:00 AM, Sunday morning. The Boys drew first blood midway through the first half when Cole Gulledge crossed one in front of the goal. Marquel Bellamy slammed in the back of the net from a full volley. Weston soon answered with a high floating goal from the far left side about 30 yards out. With just minutes remaining in the game Conor Sloan flicked one in on the far post that the goal keeper was unable to handle, moving the Boys ahead by one. With only seconds left Weston drew a foul just outside the “D”. On the ensuing direct kick Coast was called for another handball in the box, which set up the third penalty kick in two consecutive games against the Boys. Weston converted and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The third and final match paired the Boys with the Valrico Dawgs of War which, after having a match with them, are quite rightfully named. Valrico was ranked #4 nationally by Soccer In College Rankings at the time of the match. They matched the Boys with equally blazing speed, technical ability and then some. The Dawgs pressed early, controlling the game on the Boys defending half of the pitch. The boys fought back with a couple of opportunities. The boys scored first with a cross in from Conor Sloan to Marquie Weaver in front of the goal. This gave the boys a tremendous boost and the half ended 1-0, Coast.
Just minutes into the second half the Boys found themselves down by two. At this point things looked bleak, three unanswered goals, all within minutes of each other from probably one of the top two teams the Boys have played to date. How do you bring forth such a resolve to get yourself back into game? We don’t know but they did. Maintaining their composure the Boys fought back throughout the second half answering with two solid goals, the equalizer coming from Cole Gulledge with a left footed shot just inside the eighteen yard box into the upper 90.
Time was running out and the Boys were still pressing. Then, another handball in the box! What is going on with the hand balls! Valrico converted and went up by one with minutes remain. On the last free throw of the match Marquel to the ball in one-on-one with goal keeper and tied the game once again in the remaining seconds, the Boys posting a 4-4 draw.
Well done 96 Boys Red for the fine finish to an outstanding tournament season.