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Vardar Defeats Crossfire 3-1 To Win U-17/18 National Title

CARSON, Calif. (July 17) — Two second half goals by Vardar’s Derek Schrauben helped the Michigan side come from behind to defeat Crossfire Premier and win the 2009-10 Development Academy U-17/18 national championship at The Home Depot Center. Liam Kelly lit up the scoreboard in the 12th minute for Crossfire, but Vardar recovered and tied it in the 29th minute before winning with Schrauben’s heroics late in the game.

“We were confident that there were things we could do better in the second half and get back to doing things the way we know how,” said Vardar head coach Demir Muftari. “The boys really responded well and had a really good second half. It was good not only to get the second one, but also to get that third one and put them away.”

The championship match was the first for both teams in their first appearances at Finals Week. Vardar earned a spot in the final through offensive fireworks, scoring seven times in group matches—with one of those goals being the difference between them and Real So Cal that got them into the championship match. Crossfire Premiere went the other way, rebounding from an opening game loss to FC Dallas to respond with two straight shutout wins to finish at the top of Group 1.

Under a setting sun, the match began rather slowly as both teams attempted to probe for weaknesses. With the exception of some long passes over the top by Crossfire, few chances looked close to appearing in the first ten minutes.

But as they’ve done all week, Crossfire Premier strikers Liam Kelly and Kelyn Rowe made something out of nothing, and suddenly put the Washington-based side on top in the 12th minute.

On a counter attack starting just inside midfield, Rowe took a pass in the center of the park and turned towards goal. Rowe slipped a ball into the box between the center and left backs that Kelly ran onto diagonally from the right side. With the well-weighted ball at his feet and nobody to hold off, Kelly calmly looked up and fired to the left, past an advancing Jonathan Jebson.

Despite the goal, momentum seemed to stay level, and Vardar got back to work playing their game, patiently working for a chance to tie. But it was Crossfire again who got the next chance, capitalizing on an intercepted pass at midfield.

After stepping in front of a Vardar midfielder, Bryce Bacic passed to Rowe who was advancing down the center of the park alongside Kelly. Using the three against two advantage to stretch the defense, Rowe laid the ball off to the right channel upon reaching the box, and Kelly ran onto it and fired his first time shot over the crossbar.

Not a minute later Vardar got their break, and it was indeed a fortuitous bounce that allowed them back in the match. Using the right sideline, forward Ezekiel Harris took the ball towards the endline. Though he won’t get onto the scoresheet with an assist, Harris set up the goal by sending a low cross through the box that was reached by striker Peter Jacobsen just to the left of the spot. His one touch pass went right back towards the right post to Rob Dolot, whose side foot shot skipped up and hit the crossbar—falling back across the goal to Jacobsen who had only to tap in the ball for a 1-1 game.

Crossfire made one change at halftime, bringing on Haakon Taylor for Jordan Zogg. The Washington club came out firing to start the second half. In the 49th minute, Rowe was given space to dribble in the middle of the Vardar half, and went forward towards goal. Approaching the box, Rowe stepped up and fired with the outside of his right foot, but the swerving ball rose just over the goal.

The 67th minute brought out the best chance of the second half for Crossfire Premier, as Rowe turned his man along the right sideline and ran onto a long ball from the defense. Lofting a cross towards the box, the ball bounced past a defender and found the open head of Kelly. The striker put the ball towards the roof of the net, but Jebson made his best reaction save of the night to push the ball up and off the crossbar.

Upon weathering the repeated Crossfire attacks, Vardar began to mount some of their own in hopes of completing the comeback.

The 74th minute brought the first goal, when a through ball from Schrauben for Harris was sent into the left side of the box behind the Crossfire defense. Coming off his line, Weakly was just a step too slow and Harris managed to touch the ball to the left around the goalkeeper’s hands. Shooting from the now-sharp angle, Harris’ effort appeared goalbound before getting cleared off by a defender. The rebound fell right to the feet of Schrauben who had continued his run into the box, and the midfielder finished the play he started for his first goal of the night and a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later Schrauben provided all the insurance they needed, again finding himself in the right place at the right time. From a Caleb Stanko free kick just inside the half, Vardar headed back in the clearance towards the back left post. Going up for the ball was Weakly and Joseph Dillon, and when the goalkeeper was unable to hold onto the ball Dillon sent a soft cross through the center. Jacobson got a foot to it but only served to move it a step more to the right, where the wide open Schrauben side-footed it into the right side of the goal for the 3-1 lead.

In the final ten minutes Crossfire reduced their attacks to long balls up to Rowe and Kelly, but the Vardar defense cleared each and every effort. A red card shown to Jack Ryan in the 4th minute of stoppage time did little to help Crossfire’s cause, and with the final whistle Vardar’s bench exploded in celebration. 

                                           Development Academy Finals Week Match Report

Match: Crossfire Premier U-17/18 vs. Vardar U-17/18
Date: July 17, 2010
Competition: Development Academy Finals Week
Venue: The Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time

Scoring Summary:     1     2     F
Crossfire Premier          1     0     1
Vardar                         1     2     3

CRO – Liam Kelly (Kelyn Rowe)                  12th minute
VAR – Peter Jacobson                               29
VAR – Derek Schrauben                            74
VAR – Derek Schrauben                            79

CRO: 0-Andrew Weakly; 58-Jose Ocampo (4-Parker Powell, 88), 8-Jack Ryan, 7-Joshua Smith, 1-Jordan Zogg (14-Haakon Taylor, 46); 12-Jose Garibay (26-Quinn Grisham, 72), 31-Louis Schott, 10-Brooks Kochman, 21-Jim Oganga; 2-Kelyn Rowe (capt.), 17-Liam Kelly
Subs not used: 5-Niccolo Piacentini, 15-John Krueger, 16-John Monroy, 30-Bryce Bacic
Head Coach: Bernie James

VAR: 0-Jonathan Jebson; 23-Zach Schewee, 2-Zachary Carroll, 4-Joseph Dillon (capt.), 18-Mario Teixeira; 20-Garth McClellan (19-Miche’le Lipari, 30, 12-Ugochuwku Uche, 85)), 5-Derek Schrauben, 8-Rob Dolot, 21-Caleb Stanko; 11-Ezekiel Harris, 10-Peter Jacobson
Subs not used: 1-Dean Dziewit, 7-Blake Skamiera, 14-Dario Folino, 15-Mahamoudou Kaba, 22-Fatai Alashe
Head Coach: Demir Muftari

Stats Summary: CRO / VAR
Shots: 16 / 9
Shots on Goal: 7 / 5
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 7 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 9
Offside: 1 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
CRO – Jack Ryan         (caution)         90th minute
CRO – Jack Ryan         (caution)         90+4
CRO – Jack Ryan         (sent off)         90+4

Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Assistant Referee 1: Corey Parker
Assistant Referee 2: Matthew Nelson
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica