NATIONAL CHAMPIONS

History making week by FC Wisconsin with 4 teams earning spots in the National Championship tournament and ONE NATIONAL CHAMPION

National Champions

History making week by FC Wisconsin with 4 teams earning spots in the National Championship tournament and ONE NATIONAL CHAMPION

 

The week of July 13th – 18th would prove to be an historic week for youth soccer in the state of Wisconsin.  First FC Wisconsin would make history by having FOUR teams, the U14’s, U16’s, U17’s and U18’s, win regionals and move on to the National Championships.  An unprecedented number of teams to qualify from one club in the history of Youth Soccer in Wisconsin.

 

The National Championship tournament would run July 13th – July 18th with the hopes of bringing the first ever boy’s youth National Championship back to Wisconsin…FC Wisconsin would not disappoint.

 

Group play would begin for all teams on Thursday July 14th for all teams.  In order to advance to the National Championship semifinals, teams would have to either win their group or earn enough points for a wild card.  Another history making day when 3 of the 4 teams would advance out of group play to the National Championship semifinal.   

 

“At the beginning of the year we set a goal of making history this year.  Never did we imagine we would make so much history in such a short period of time.  After placing over 33 players in college programs this year, and after having FOUR teams win Regionals, we set our sights on being the first youth boys program to win a National Title.  The weeks leading to this event felt really business like and focused.  We felt despite the prestigious teams already qualified, we had a good shot competing to bring home a title.  And the boys were hungry!”  Said Co-Director Billy Solberg.

 

The 14’s would advance in their group play and face one of the top clubs on the east coast, Triangle United out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina in their semifinal.  The semifinal was a hard fought back and forth game but FCW would come out on top 2-0 to advance to the National Championship final.

 

The 17’s would be eliminated in the semifinal by Manhattan Villa SC the #1 ranked team in the Nation out of New York City.  The semifinal would see an early read card for FCW after an early questionable yellow card followed by second yellow card in the 15th minute issued to its starting center back, Ethan Hannisko.  The team would fight hard and after going down 2-0 early would pull the game back to 2-1 going into Half Time, but playing down a man for over 70 minutes would prove too much to overcome in the end.

 

“The team really came together the last month.  They found their chemistry and really kept the ball and took advantage of some big moments throughout the tournament.  We were really pleased with their play, attitude, and togetherness” said Senior Staff Coach Jaime Bladen.

 

The 18’s would take the #1 seed based on goal differential and draw the wild card of East Meadow Soccer Club out of Long Island, New York.  The East Meadow Hawks would get on the scoreboard first as their target got behind the back line to chip one over the outstretched arms of Nik Martensson to take the 1-0.  After taking hold of the game, FCW would create big moment after big moment but would fail to capitalize until Braden Allen got through to bury a goal to go 1-1.  The teams would go to double overtime where FCW would hit the crossbar and the post but would fail to get the game winner in regulation.  The dreaded shootout would begin.  With two huge save from Martensson, and FCW burying all 4 of their attempts, they would win the shootout and advance to the National Championship Final. 

 

History made….2 FC Wisconsin teams to compete for the ultimate youth prize of the National Champions title!

 

The 14’s would get a rematch vs the #1 team in the country, the Las Vegas Sports Academy (LVSA).  The game would be extremely competitive with each team creating dangerous chances.  The most dangerous chance came off of a corner and a Vincent Bennage header skimming the crossbar in the 27th minute. 

 

They would lose the lead minutes later and go into halftime down just 1-0.  The second half would continue the theme of keeping it close and creating chances.  The game took a turn in the 60th minute when hard-nosed defensive unit gave up the second goal.  As FCW started to push to equalize they would then give up goals on the counter and would lose the National Championship final.

 

The 18’s game would be immediately after the 14’s game and as the coaches approached the warm up, the boys were silent and focused.  “The boys had a feeling of business and a hunger to them.  You could see in their eyes this was something they desperately wanted” said Senior Staff Coach Jaime Bladen.

 

The game would start with boy’s team playing really attractive soccer, keeping possession and playing for the right opportunity.  The first goal would come just 10 minutes in with some great link up play in the midfield between Simar Perez, and Peyton Aranda to spring Antonio DeCastro into the final attacking third.  He would commit a defender and slide a pass to a sprinting Simar Perez who would take a touch and bury it in the lower left corner.

 

FC Wisconsin would lose its way slightly and defended the next few minutes, but would take the lead into halftime at 1-0. 

 

The second half continued to swing back and forth for both teams.  “This was by far the best team we have faced in many years, and it was clearly evident as to why they were the reigning National Champions.  New York were very clean technically, and had great off the ball movement, they were difficult to defend and difficult to break down.  We knew we had to stay organized, but also had to have belief in how we play and it was important we were brave in possession,” said Co-DOC Ben Shepherd.

 

FCW would concede a penalty to take the game to 1-1.  The second half would lead to more and more possession for FCW as they took a strangle hold of the game and would create 3-4 big moments.  DeCastro and Perez would link up again in midfield and find Payton Aranda who would beat his defender and take a crack on target, the goalkeeper could not handle the shot and Braden Allen would come streaking in to head in the rebound.  The game would go 2-1 with minutes left in regulation. 

 

NYSC would push everyone forward including their own goalkeeper for several corner kicks, after not being able to clear the ball, NYSC would volley a shot at the goal that found the back of the net with 90 seconds to play in regulation. 

 

“After going into overtime the day before, we were concerned with fatigue and if our boys could continue the pace for two more overtimes.  It’s a special group and they bounced right back to get NYSC to chase our possession and the game.  We knew we would get one more big moment and just had to bury it” said Co-DOC Billy Solberg.

 

With two minutes to play in the second overtime, Aranda would find a slashing Braden Allen behind the NYSC defense.  Allen would face an aggressive goalkeeper who came sprinting out to either foul or stop the shot.  Allen would calmly take a touch and lift his shot over the diving keeper for the game winning goal and to secure the ultimate championship in youth soccer!

 

“This is a great ending for our senior players careers with the club. The majority of this team has been together since U14, (some have been with the club since age 8) and it is a testament to their work ethic, commitment and belief in the club and its long-term player development philosophy. The work that has gone into this achievement behind the scenes by so many people connected with the club cannot be forgotten and has greatly contributed to this first National Title being brought back to Wisconsin” said Co-DOC Ben Shepherd

 

 “We came out to battle, we knew what we wanted, we knew what we came for, it was business like, this is what it’s about, the championship, and it feels great.  We are a family, it brings us closer, we are fc family and will always be” said junior midfielder Simar Perez after the game as he was being interviewed.

 

FC Wisconsin would become the first youth boys’ team in the history of youth soccer in Wisconsin to bring home the coveted National Championship!

 

“I’ve just closed my time with FC Wisconsin with a National Championship!!! Name a better ending.  Ive been with this club since I was 8 years old.  These coaches are the best out there and they’ve done more than I can possibly explain for my soccer career.  Thanks to all of the FC Family, all coaches, all players, parents and the club that made this journey and this ending possible.  We are FC Family and WE ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS” said captain Ben Leas.