HOUSTON (July 20, 2012) – The North Carolina Fusion is poised to capture its highest finish at the Development Academy Finals Week in club history on Sunday following a 2-1 victory against De Anza Force on Friday night in a U-17/18 match at the Houston Amateur Sports Park.
Defender Alex Rosenbower rose high to drive home a game-winning header in the 82nd minute, placing North Carolina into the third-place match on Sunday against Solar Chelsea SC. Regardless of the outcome of that game, the result will be North Carolina Fusion’s highest Finals Week finish in club history after finishing sixth as a U-15/16 team last year.
“We didn’t get off to a good start in the first game [of the tournament] and I think we felt that we didn’t do ourselves justice,” Fusion head coach Marc Nicholls said. “I was really pleased with today’s performance. We’re really happy to be in that [third-place] game. It was a goal of ours. To come here and win two games back-to-back, and to be in that position in such a competitive league and such a vast country, we’re very happy to be in it.”
North Carolina, which beat the Colorado Rapids 4-2 on Wednesday after losing a two-goal lead, won for the second consecutive match as Rosenbower broke free on a corner kick with eight minutes remaining in the match. Unmarked, the defender rose up and connected on Warren Marshall’s delivery with a powerful header past goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh.
“My teammate and I switched at the same time and he screened my man and I screened his man and they got tangled up and left me wide open,” Rosenbower said. “I had the whole goal to shoot at.”
De Anza Force midfielder Edson Cardona knotted the score at 1-1 four minutes before halftime with a well-placed shot to the left side of the goal. After a nice combination to open up space, midfielder Colby Trah’s first ball to Cardona was blocked directly back to Trah. His quick second pass found Cardona with space in front of goal and time to tee up a clean shot in the 41st minute.
Following a De Anza giveaway in its own half of the field, North Carolina used a strong build-up to spring forward Brandt Bronico in on goal in the 12th minute. Strike partner Hassan Kouyateh and Taylor Adler used two quick touches to play the ball to Bronico for the opening goal.
“I thought we got off to a great start,” Nicholls said. “We controlled the tempo of the game in the second half and we were very aware of De Anza and their late heroics and never-say-die attitude, so I’m very pleased with the way we managed the game in the late stages.”
“Last year we performed pretty well, but not as well as we have this year,” Rosenbower said. “Experience definitely helped us this year. We have that mentality that we’ve been here before and we’re going to do better than last year.”
De Anza saw a golden opportunity to equalize in the 85th minute saved by Fusion goalkeeper Jeff Campbell. A long throw into the box from the right touchline bounced before Force midfielder Kody Wasaka put a head on the ball, but Campbell was in position to make the stop.
North Carolina faces Solar Chelsea SC in the third-place match on Sunday after Solar suffered a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas in Group 2 play on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Houston Amateur Sports Park.
“We were here last year and we ended up playing for a worse position,” Rosenbower said. “It’s great to be here playing for third. We were looking for the No. 1 or 2 spot and I think if we came out strong in the first game we could’ve gotten that, but it feels great playing for third. It’s the best our team has ever done.”
-U.S. Soccer Development Academy Match Report-
Match: North Carolina Fusion vs. De Anza Force
Date: July 20, 2012
Competition: Development Academy Finals Week – U-17/18
Venue: Houston Amateur Sports Park; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
NCF 1 1 2
DAF 1 0 1
NCF – Brandt Bronico (Hassan Kouyateh) 12th minute
DAF – Edson Cardona (Colby Trah) 41
NCF – Alex Rosenbower (Warren Marshall) 82
NCF: 00-Jeff Caldwell; 32-Alex Rosenbower, 2-Erik Casterline, 20-Cole Schwietering, 7-Adam Storm; 16-Sam McBride (4-Alec Rotunda, 64), 8-Warren Marshall, 13-Brandt Bronico; 36-Myles Mansfield (14-Craver Stamey, 74), 38-Hassan Kouyateh (10-Marco Sunol, 45), 17-Taylor Adler (96-Matteo Busio, 74)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-John Brooks, 26-Alex Requarth, 6-Mason Billings
Head coach: Marc Nicholl
DAF: 0-Cameron McElfresh; 2-Alfie Edmonds, 19-Alejandro Gaeta (15-Thomas Janjigian, 38; 66-Skyler Felt, 86), 7-Matt Escobar, 25-Mike Amick; 10-Kody Wasaka (11-Max Ornstil, 45), 23-Colby Trah, 17-Edson Cardona (21-Ryan Masch, 58), 77-Jason Romero; 20-Greg Senger (8-Dylan Autran, 66), 36-Luc Brubaker (6-Travis Pillon, 45)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Paul Blanchette
Head coach: Eric Yamamoto
Stats Summary: NCF / DAF
Shots: 8 / 12
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 5 / 5
Fouls: 9 / 12
Offside: 4 / 0
DAF – Alejandro Gaeta (caution) 31st minute
DAF – Ryan Masch (caution) 90
Referee: Cedric Adams
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Mercado Jr.
Assistant Referee 2: Apolinar Mariscal
Fourth Official: Christopher Mercado
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Alex Rosenbower