LAKE BUENA VISTA – RSL Florida’s boys under-17 team got an overtime goal from Tevin Gage to win its division at the Disney Soccer Showcase Qualifier with a 1-0 win against the Jamestown Jammers from South Carolina on Monday afternoon.
“He’s been knocking on the doorstep for the past couple of months,” RSL coach Alex Delgado said. “He came through in the semis with a big goal, and then a brilliant play in today’s game. (He’s a ) big-time player.”
RSL had defeated Hillsborough County United 3-1 in the semifinals, Gage, Robert Menke and Xander Rados scoring for RSL and J.T. Thompson answering for HCU. Delgado was pleased with the resilience his side showed as it won four out of its five games over the weekend.
“They came out and performed all weekend,” Delgado said. “Five games and five good results against some very good opposition. That’s a tribute to our county, we had three teams from Hillsborough County in the semifinals.”
HCU coach Eric Sims was disappointed not to reach the qualifier final, and gain automatic entry into the full showcase in December, but believes that his sides past performance will allow it to gain a berth for the holiday-time event.
“For us winning last year, and being in the (qualifier) final four this year, I’d be kind of surprised if we didn’t get in,” Sims said. “But it’s not up to us, so if we get in great, if we don’t, we’ll go play somewhere else.”
Fusion FC was the third team to reach the under-17 division semifinals, but there it lost in overtime to Jamestown 3-2. Alex Stickley and Nathan Tellez scored the goals for Fusion.
“It’s tough, but we win as a team, lose as a team,” Fusion coach Roland Moldovan said. “It was one of those days, we dominated the game, they had three chances and scored three goals.”
RSL Florida's under-16 team wasn't as fortunate as its under-17 counterparts, as it fell 1-0 after overtime against the Jacksonville Fury.
Jacksonville scored the only goal of the game in the seventh minute of overtime, Sebastian Hardington converting from the penalty spot after Dimitri Minick had been fouled in the penalty area.
"They looked a bit fresher, played us a bit more physically, won the challenges a bit more," RSL coach Steve Wolf said. "Unfortunately we made a mental mistake and we gave up the penalty kick, and that can't happen at this level, it did, and they capitalized with the PK."
HCU did have three teams reach finals in the boys under-18, under-15 and under-14 divisions, gaining entry into the full showcase, but all three lost in their respective finals, HCU’s under-14’s falling to a West Pines squad that contained multiple U.S. under-14 national program players.
HCU’s under-18s fell behind early to Kendall, and gave up another two goals in the second half in a 3-0 defeat. Coach Kelvin Jones, though, was pleased with his team’s effort, and thought they just ran out of gas in the final.
“We achieved our goal, which was to get to the showcase,” Jones said. “We just ran out of gas. Certainly they were a good team, and they played well, but we just couldn’t get out of second gear.”
HCU’s under-15s went behind early, but goals either side of half time by Mack Rocha and Mike Bajza gave it a 2-1 lead against Team Boca five minutes into the second half. HCU was unable to hold its advantage, though, as Aryeh Ibrahimi tied the game after a quick free kick with 11 minutes to go, and Nico Ospina fired a 30-yard shot into the top right corner of the net to give Boca victory.
“They made fewer mistakes than we did,” HCU coach Scott Moniz said. “Both teams were tired, and there were a couple of dead balls we should have done better on, and there’s the difference in your game.”
Strictly Soccer’s boys under-18, under-16 and under-15 teams also reached the semifinals, but all three fell in regulation. Under-18 Coach Virgil Stevens said despite falling short of automatic qualification, the weekend had been a good one for his team.
“We had a great weekend,” Stevens said. “We played Brevard County, Omni and (Lee County), who are all at the top of the state, so we had three very tough games, and our kids held up well. If I could get five minutes back (from the semifinal), it might have been a different outcome.”