Monday, August 24, 2009

Youth: Flames split on Premier League opening weekend

Despite rain and lightning causing disruptions to their schedule, the Brandon Flames girls’ under-15 team split a pair of games in the opening weekend of the Region III Premier League.

The weather in Savannah, Ga. caused the postponement of the Flames’ opener against the Cape Fear Wave on Friday night, making the Flames play a pair of games on Saturday. The disruption didn't seem to affect the squad, though as Brandon controlled the bulk of the game in a 3-1 victory against the Wave.

“We really knocked the ball around them and dominated the possession,” Flames coach Randy Belli said. “They scored late after it was already 3-0, and the game was never really in doubt. The girls really did well, knocked the ball around and played well.”

The Flames were unable to complete the weekend sweep, though, as a pair of late goals gave the CASL Spartan Elite a 2-0 victory. One of the elite clubs in the country, CASL reached the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship game over the summer as the Region III champions, and is currently ranked No.5 in the nation in the under-15 division.

Belli said that he was pleased with the way his side competed, and continued to try to play its game despite the pressure CASL put it under, but was highly impressed with CASL’s quality.

“That team is a class team,” Belli said. “They pressure well, they’re well organized, they put you under so much pressure, they really dictate the pace of the game, and how the game is going to be. I’ve got to give them credit, they were better than us, no doubt about it.”

Belli said that games like the loss to CASL were the reason why he thought competing in the Premier League was going to be beneficial to his squad.

“The best thing for me, and the girls all realize that this is how you get better,” Belli said. “You play the best teams in the country. If we sat around and playing in the local leagues and smacked people around the way we’ve been doing, it wouldn’t make these players any better.

“I don’t like to drive to Savannah, we didn’t get in ‘til 1 a.m. and the girls have school today, but they realize that they’ve committed to being better players, and this is what it takes, to play the best competition.”

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