TAMPA – A pair of first half goals by Kody Thomas, and a fourth straight shutout, moved RSL Florida’s boys under-15 team into the final of the United Soccer League’s Super-Y North American Finals after a 3-0 victory against the Westchester Flames on Monday afternoon.
In a far better performance than in its final group game, RSL controlled the flow of the game from the outset, and took the lead in the 25th minute when Nathan Dalton picked up the ball outside the penalty area after a clearance, and angled a cross from the left to the far post where Thomas was on hand to head home.
Thomas then doubled RSL’s advantage in the 33rd minute, working a quick give and go with Travis Jehs before his shot from the left side of the penalty area deflected off a defender into the net.
RSL put the game out of reach 11 minutes into the second half when Rheese Wiltshire’s corner from the left was flicked in at the near post by Jean Cenoble.
“First half we came out a lot better than yesterday,” RSL coach Steve Wolf said. “I think we knew something was on the line and we had a sense of urgency. A little more disciplined in our shape, and we did the business.”
While the Flames did manufacture some chances, a looping shot that went off the top of the crossbar the closest they came to pulling a goal back, RSL’s defense remained solid. Wolf said he was pleased with the performances of center backs Winston Lightbody and Raeshaun Washington, and the way the team was defending as a whole.
“I think defending as a team in the modern game is so important,” Wolf said. “When you can keep a game tight and you can rely on your defense, because there’s going to be days when you’re not on to finish, but if you know that you can keep a team at bay, it says volumes about the team.”
RSL will face Mountain WFC from Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Ed Radice Sports Complex, and Wolf said he hoped the players would embrace the opportunity they have in front of them.
“I told them, ‘don’t take this for granted, because you never know when you’ll get this chance again,’ ” Wolf said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime, it’s all about trying to create a moment and create memories by winning the championship.”