Friday, October 2, 2009

Youth: Chargers looking to continue momentum

CLEARWATER – After a slow start to the season, the Clearwater Chargers under-18 has clicked into gear as it prepares to host the AFC Lightning on Saturday at 7 p.m. and the Concorde Fire on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Glen Oaks Park in the U.S. Development Academy Southeast Division.

The Chargers defeated South Carolina United 4-1 last Saturday, their biggest win of the young season, as Jagger Martinez scored twice to lead Clearwater to a comeback victory.

“As soon as they scored a goal, we just lit up,” defender Ben Sweat said. “We came up with better energy, scored goal after goal after goal, three goals in less than 10 minutes, and then we kept playing hard until another one went in.”

Sweat, who has committed to South Florida, said the team wasn’t pleased with the way it started the season, but that the squad is now playing better. Having lost only five players from the squad that reached the national playoffs a season ago, Sweat said there is an even amount of pressure among the seniors on the squad to provide leadership for the team younger players.

“We’re pretty much an older team this year,” Sweat said. “I think this year we’re going to have a bigger impact because we’re all going to be leaders, we’re all at that next level already.”

As a result, Sweat is expecting the team to not only reach the playoffs this season, but make a run at the title. Teammate T.J. Roehn said he and the rest of the team believe that is an attainable goal.

“We’re definitely capable of it,” Roehn said. “Coach keeps telling us that we have the talent, we just need to have the work ethic, because talent doesn’t get you there alone. You have to work hard.”

And that hard work begins against an AFC Lightning team that enters Saturday night’s game with a 1-2-0 record. Sweat said after three weekends on the road, it is going to be nice to play at home.

“I like playing on our home field, having that advantage,” Sweat said. “I don’t mind travelling or anything, but being at home is always good.”

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