Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Youth: Flames on verge of Region III Championship berth

Brandon Flames girls under-15 coach Randy Belli’s principal goal for his team when they began play in the Region III Premier League East in August was that the competition aid the development of their play, and for the side to gain experience playing some of the best teams in the Southeast.

Now, with just one game remaining in the season, the Flames could achieve a significant secondary goal. With a win over Space Coast on Oct. 31, the Flames would put themselves in position to finish second in the 12-team league, and gain automatic entry into the Region III Championships, to be held next summer in Baton Rouge, La.

The Flames picked up a win and a draw last weekend to put themselves a point behind the CSA Predators from North Carolina. The Predators have already completed their schedule, meaning a win against Space Coast would jump the Flames into second place. The only team that could then tie the Flames on points is the GSA Phoenix Red from Georgia, which has three games remaining. Belli said the team is just concentrating on getting the result it needs, putting pressure on GSA to close out with three wins.

“I looked at it for a second and was about to evaluate what the tiebreakers and everything were,” Belli said. “But then I just realized we have to win our game, they have to win their games, and we’ll see where it lies at that point.”

The Flames could have clinched their place if they had managed to earn a win against South Carolina’s CESA Premier, but despite controlling the game we unable to finish their chances in a 0-0 tie. The result was disappointing to Belli, who felt his side should have won, but he was still pleased with the way his side played. Fulfilling the principle goal of the season, Belli said he is very happy with the development the squad has shown as the league comes to an end.

“The kids have been playing good soccer throughout, and I think that’s what’s really prevailing,” Belli said. “They’re starting to make good decisions on the ball, and the tactical side of the game has really come out. When you play tough teams that pressure you and pin you in your half for a bit, you really have to be smart to manage it, and the players have really matured over the season, and that was really the goal of us getting into the league.”

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