CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – With 2014-15 marking the first season in which Grande Sports Academy would field a U-17 team, expectations for Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 were cloudy.

However, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 experienced the most success in the Elite program in the first half of the year, winning the Valparaiso United Invitational Tournament and reaching the final of the Las Vegas Thanksgiving Classic.

“They competed in the Vegas tournament against some very good teams and made it to the championship game,” said Assistant Coach Mike Kraus. “We had a couple of games in State League where we dropped our intensity, but we picked it back up and won three straight against some very good teams to end the season.”

RSL-AZ Elite U-17’s win in the final game of the State League season was enough to vault them from the relegation zone all the way up to third place in the league.

“[The Valparaiso Invitational] was a really tough one to win because we only had 12 or 13 guys going into it and we lost a couple due to injury,” said Callum Ryan. “We played part of a game with a man down and no subs, but we grinded out the final and won on penalties.”

With one trophy and another final under their belts in the first half of the year, expectations are now high for RSL-AZ Elite U-17, starting with the President’s Day Tournament in Phoenix in February.

Arizona State League: 4-3-0, 14 Goals For, 11 Goals Against

Tuzos Soccer Challenge: 2-1-0, 5 Goals For, 4 Goals Against

Valparaiso United Invitational Tournament: 3-1-0, 10 Goals For, 6 Goals Against

SC del Sol Banat Southwest Challenge: 0-2-0, 0 Goals For, 5 Goals Against

Las Vegas Thanksgiving Classic: 3-1-1, 7 Goals For, 6 Goals Against