U16 Boys Win Regional Cup Div. 2

The Plantation Eagles boy's U-16 team put it all together at just the right time. The defense played outstanding, as did the midfield and the offense scored when they had to.
We lost our sweeper in the warm up scrimmage prior to the start of regional cup which proved to be a blessing. It forced us to move Aaron Benttrinder to sweeper from center midfield and with his leadership and smart play our defense, (which was good all year) became outstanding. He was the piece that we needed to solidify the other defenders. Andres Lee, Luis Abello, Bryan Abrams handled the outsides and Leo Villarreal and Anthony Loeza shared the stopper duties.
Goalkeeper Julian Londono our hardest working player, never missed keeper practice with Coach Jimmy on Tuesday and Thursday nights. He has developed into a top keeper in our league, with him in the goal this defense gave up two goals in five games. Three shut outs and 2 - 1 goal games.  He kept us in all games with great goal tending.

Our first game was against Lauderhill. They didn't know what hit them, our entire team came to play together and we moved the ball around the field like a team that has played together for years. Coach Rich and I couldn't believe it. The parents on the sidelines were going wild.
The midfield took control of the ball from the start of the game and started connecting passes together 3-4-5 in a row down the field creating spaces for runs by our forwards Ben Rivera and John Sandbrook which opened up our offence for the midfielders to create opportunities. We had a lot of shots but didn't finish until Aaron stole a pass in the back, dribbled pass their offense and midfielders, a give and go with Byron Molina past the defense and boom a goal in the 27th minute.
Five minutes later Byron took a pass from Santiago Guaqueta on the 30 yard line juked his defender and scored a beautiful goal upper left corner, 2-0 the rough was beginning, we had the momentum and our team was feeling it. We missed many opportunities the rest of the half as we dominated play.
At half time coach calmed the team and talked finishing. The second half started and within five minutes Byron scored again stealing the ball from a defender in the box and beating the keeper lower right corner. A few more misses and then Alex Seamon scored on a cross from Ben right up the middle, 4-0. After near misses by Ben and John, John kicked in a rebound off the goalies hands, on a blast by Ben.
At this point everyone wanted to score but Byron caught the defense napping and scored on a breakaway to give him a hat trick for the day, 6-0. An excellent game was played by all of our players.

Game two against Port Saint Lucie.
In there first game they beat Lauderhill by 4-0. So we thought we would have a tough game and we did. We had played them in our Turkey tournament and we beat them 4-2. So they wanted revenge. The game was tough and physical and although we controlled the ball we couldn't finish. They scored late in the first half on a breakaway down the left side after stealing a pass at midfield on one of our counter attacks. Despite the goal Julian had played great up to that point making numerous saves. We went into half time down by 1 and talked about crosses, crosses, and more crosses. The talk appeared to work after making a substitution in the sixtieth minute Walid got a foot on a cross from Santiago and put it in the lower left corner tying it up.
For the next ten minutes we were controlling play in there end and missed shots 2-3 times wide right.  We got a break, a handball in the box, Aaron blasts the PK past their keepers diving outstretched hands in the lower left corner 2-1. We hold on and win.

Cooper City
Next up Cooper City, a team we love to beat. They show up with only ten players, so you figure no problem and that's exactly how we played in the first half. Ten showed up for them so ten played. We had fourteen show up, and no one played well in the first half.
          However in the second half we came back and Julian made a great save that awakened our team. We took over and Byron got loose scoring a nice goal and we won 1-0. On to the Semi Finals.

Semi-Finals against Miami Stars
We play the Miami Stars, a team we don't know much about. Our team shows up ready to play and we needed to be. This team plays very physical and we are in a good back and fourth flow until just before half time. Byron gets loose again with a nice goal. All of our midfielders are working very hard to control the ball game. Santiago, Matt, Jesse and Luis are starting to string together passes and were controlling the middle of the field into the second half. Then in the sixty-fifth minute they tie it up on a shot from about forty yards out that floats over Julian's head for the tying goal. Momentum shifts to them for about ten minutes. Then we regain our midfield play and start dominating them. Back and forth we go until we get a corner kick with three minutes left. Luis takes the corner, beautiful ball to the diving head of John Sandbrook outside the far post. 2-1 were in the finals. What a run.

The finals vs. Lauderdale Lakes.
This game was going to be fast and physical as the Lakes team was all that. For the entire 1st half we went back and forth feeling each other out. After twenty minutes we started to connect passes and keep possession. Then we started pushing down the right side with some good runs by Ben and John but couldn't finish the crosses. At halftime coach Richard told the team to keep working hard and push to the ball to pick up the pressure, we were playing great defense which kept us in the game. At the sixty-fifth minute we inserted Matt into the midfield pushing Byron up to forward and within two minutes it paid off. Matt hit Byron with a pass up the left side at the thirty yard line, and Byron made a quick side step passed the stopper and then beat the sweeper, and the goalie never had a chance, a perfect shot to the lower left corner of the goal. We were ahead 1-0. They pressed us hard the rest of the match, yet we were relentless, our entire team played with intensity as well as smarts and we withstood pressure and won the game.

From a team that only had three returning players at the start these young men worked hard, grew individually as soccer players and then brought it all together for this regional cup to win it all. As manager/coach I'm so proud of these kids not because we won the cup, but because they finally all came together as a team and played up to their potential as a team.

Congratulations guys on a great year!
Coach David