PHOENIX – Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 fell to Next Gen USA in a game of inches in the 36th Annual President’s Day Tournament final on Monday, losing by a score of 2-1 to fall just short of the crown but complete an otherwise successful weekend of soccer.
Indiana Fire 0-0 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17
Facing a tough challenge in their tournament opener against perhaps the best team in their bracket, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 fought their way to a tough scoreless draw against the Indiana Fire at Reach 11 to salvage a point headed into day two of the tournament.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18 1-0 FFC Black Diamond
Looking to win their second straight trophy in as many weekends after their Desert Classic Tournament crown, RSL-AZ Elite U-18 started off President’s Day weekend against Utah club FFC Black Diamond.
The Claret-and-Cobalt notched the game-winning goal in the 24th minute thanks to a strike from Martin Lopez. The defense managed to complete the shutout and secure the 1-0 lead for a strong start to the 18’s weekend.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 4-0 FC Stars
Needing a win to boost their chances of making the final, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 came out of the gates hot against Massachusetts’s FC Stars. Patrick Ring and Duncan Storey each scored emphatic goals in the opening 15 minutes for a solid 2-0 lead.
In the second half, Diego Robles and Nikolai Shumov each added a goal of their own to pad the lead and give the confident RSL 17s a 4-0 win.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18 1-1 Windy City Pride
After a scoreless first half against Illinois’s Windy City Pride, the visitors opened up the scoring in the 50th minute, breaking out on a counter attack and finishing a rebounded shot to snatch the 1-0 lead against the run of play.
After a frustrating stretch of play without a goal, the Claret-and-Cobalt finally got on the board in the 74th minute when Callum Ryan hit a perfect header on a cross from Darian Huerta to level the game and keep the 18’s hopes alive of making the final.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 1-0 Scottsdale Blackhawks
Needing a win in order to reach the tournament final, RSL-AZ left the game until late, scoring the winning goal in the 79th minute when Cedrick Saint-Joy and Mikey Lanzetta connected to deliver a ball to Nikolai Shumov in the middle. Shumov struck the ball first time, curling it around the diving keeper for a goal to send the Claret-and-Cobalt through to the President’s Day Tournament final.
Alaska Northstars 1-0 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18
Needing a win and some help to make the final, RSL-AZ Elite U-18 needed a convincing win to help their cause. Despite dominating the first half, it was the Northstars that took the lead, winning a free kick on the edge of the box in the 39th minute and scoring into the top corner of goal.
Despite the Claret-and-Cobalt’s best efforts, it was the Northstars that would hang on for the win and a place in the tournament final, relegating the 18s to a berth in the fifth-place game.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-17 1-2 Next Gen USA
In a great example of the quality training that Grande Sports World provides, RSL-AZ Elite U-17 would face New Jersey’s Next Gen USA in the tournament final, a team that hosted its pre-tournament training camp at GSW.
It was RSL-AZ that opened the scoring in the final when Alex Vedamanikam’s shot rebounded out to Anthony Negrete, who fired in the second effort for the 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.
In a dramatic series of events to end the half, Next Gen would win a penalty, have it saved by Jared Osgood and then score on the ensuing corner kick to level the game at one goal apiece with only seconds to go in the half.
In the 74th minute, a Next Gen attacker broke the deadlock on a corner kick, flicking the ball over a defender and firing a deflected shot into the back of the net in what would turn out to be the championship-winning goal.
Forza FC 2-3 Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite U-18
RSL-AZ Elite U-18 managed a 3-2 win over Utah’s Forza FC to end the tournament on a high note, with goals from Andres Lopez, Martin Lopez and Darian Huerta providing the difference to secure fifth place for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
Real Salt Lake-Arizona Elite take this weekend off in preparation for next week’s Sereno Showcase, where the 16s and 18s will finish their Desert Premier League seasons and the 17s will compete in the tournament proper.