CARSON, Calif. (July 19, 2008) – U-15/16 Carmel United exuded class in their 1-0 victory over U-15/16 PDA, claiming the 2008 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week U-15/16 Championship on Saturday night on the Glenn 'Mooch' Mynerick Field at The U.S. Soccer National Training Center.
Carmel United, hailing from Indiana, was unbeaten for 16 games coming into Finals Week, and with four strong games, including the victory under the lights on Saturday, that streak is guaranteed to stretch into the 2008-09 season.
“You feel like you’re living in a dream right now, “said Carmel United coach David Costa. “I’m just so excited for the guys. They all had the belief they could do it. I’m very proud of them.”
After a scoreless first half, Carmel took the game to their opponents early in the second period, and PDA goalkeeper, Rafael Diaz, was called into action on multiple occasions.
Diaz was his club's hero in the tournament's first game, heroically denying a Real Colorado one-on-one in the match's dying moments. He had to be at his best again tonight, superbly turning Harrison Pett's shot around the post. At full stretch, the lanky netminder covers most of the goal, but even that kind of length was futile against AJ Corrado's perfectly placed shot in the 52nd minute.
Out of a short corner kick, the versatile midfielder received the ball near the top of the box, and cutting inside he curled a text book shot around a screened Diaz and into the bottom right corner of the net.
“It’s something you look forward to all year,” said Corrodo, who scored the championship-winning goal.” “We believed that we should be in L.A. and that we could win. It seems like it always happens to somebody else. It’s an unbelievable feeling. I feel like I haven’t even woken up yet.”
The goal set off wild celebrations for Carmel United, but PDA would never have made it to the final were not for steely resolve that the New Jersey club has shown throughout the season. John Murphy's side set about to find the equalizer, and in throwing numbers forward, the chances started to fall their way.
Inevitably there can only be one winner, and when PDA midfieder Alex Bramall crashed his outrageous volley off the crossbar, the time looked to have run out on the Mid-Atlantic Champions. Bramall also blazed a shot over the goal late on and the final whistle came just moments later to seal Carmel United's title.
The final match of the Development Academy season was not the only game on the schedule at The Home Depot Center. In the first game of the day, Albertson defeated CASL 2-0 en route to a seventh place finish for the New York club. Goals from Zach Kupfer and A.J. Laza propelled Albertson to victory, with Kupfer earning man of the match honors for his cultured display in the attacking midfield for the winners.
Attacking play has been of the highest order here at Development Academy Finals Week, but in the U-15/16 fifth place match on Saturday it was goalkeeping that stole the show. Chicago Magic and LAFC played out a scoreless draw in regulation, but it was Magic goalkeeper Tom Serratore who came up trumps for the Midwest Conference team.
Serratore saved a penalty in the shootout and also denied LAFC's Antonion Benitez from the spot in regular time. Serratore skillfully palmed away Benitez's, and reacted quickest to smother the ensuing rebound. If that sequence showcased supreme skill on the account of Serratore, he could thank his luck for the save he made later in the second half. In desperation with a pass crossing his six-yard box, Serratore flung himself in the opposite direction with a massive kick save to keep the game deadlocked at zeroes.
Schulz Academy claimed third place in the U-15/16 Division, with a 2-0 victory over Real Colorado. Midfielder Sean Hart gave Schulz the lead just seconds before the end of the first half, and in the second, Schulz held the lead with a composed disposition, and Hasani Sinclair's well taken goal in the 58th minute ensured that the Boca Raton side ended a successful Academy season with third place medals.