Fusion Capitalized on Must-Win Situation to Earn Finals Week Berth
A wild card team entering the Development Academy Playoffs, the North Carolina Fusion needed a win on the final day of the Academy Playoffs in order to clinch its first trip to Finals Week. The club did just that – recording a 1-0 victory against Crossfire Premier to claim a trip to Houston.
How they got to Finals Week: The Fusion got clutch goals when it needed them the most during the Academy Playoffs. The team earned a come-from-behind draw against FC DELCO, scored a game-winning goal in the 85th minute against Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Soccer Academy to stay in contention and notched a 60th-minute game-winner against Crossfire Premier, which only needed a draw to win the group.
Finals Week and Academy Playoffs History: The North Carolina Fusion has made three straight trips to the Development Academy Playoffs but has never advanced out of the group stage until this season. The club’s U-15/16 team has previously qualified for Finals Week, but this year marks the U-17/18 team’s first trip to the final eight.
2011-12 Regular Season: The Fusion finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a 9-4-1 record and a mark of 16-7-5 overall. Based on points-per-game, the club occupied one of the top wild card spots to the Development Academy Playoffs. Despite finishing in fourth place, North Carolina’s 36 goals were the most in the Atlantic Division.
About head coach Marc Nicholls : A native of Wolverhampton, England, Nicholls has been involved in youth soccer for more than 15 years, including a stretch in England, before arriving in the U.S. in 1997. He has worked with the Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina Olympic Development Programs, as well as being a Coach Educator with the various state associations. He currently serves as head coach of the Fusion and head coach of the Carolina Dynamo of the USL Premier Development League. Nicholls played soccer at both the County and University level in England before embarking on a coaching career. He holds the FA England Badge, FA England Psychology for Football Certificate, FA England Teacher’s Certificate, NSCAA Premier Diploma, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, NSCAA National Diploma and USSF A coaching license.
About the North Carolina Fusion: The North Carolina Fusion forms an umbrella over Twin Cities Youth Soccer and Greensboro United. The Fusion has consistently sent players on to the next level to colleges and universities such as Virginia, High Point, UNC-Asheville and Elon.
Scoring Leader in Academy Playoffs: Warren Marshall (2)
Scoring Leader During 2011-12 Regular Season: Brandt Bronico (11)
Inside the Numbers: The North Carolina Fusion is unbeaten in eight straight games dating back to May 24 … During the streak, the Fusion has conceded just four goals, while scoring 24 goals … During the regular season, seven different players scored a goal in an 8-0 win against the Virginia Rush on June 2.
Did you know … North Carolina Fusion captain Alec Rotunda, who scored the goal to put the team into Finals Week, was the student body president at Grimsley High School this year … Midfielder Warren Marshall verbally committed to play for 2011 NCAA champion North Carolina starting in 2013.
U-17/18 North Carolina Fusion 2011-12 Finals Week Schedule:
Home team listed first
Monday, July 16: North Carolina Fusion vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, July 18: Colorado Rapids vs. North Carolina Fusion, 9 p.m.
Friday, July 20: North Carolina Fusion vs. De Anza Force, 8 p.m.
Sunday, July 22: TBD