Petaluma United Clash claim President's Cup
Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 10:09 a.m.
Under slightly overcast skies, Petaluma fought the Redwood Peninsula Blitz, in an epic battle, reminiscent of boxing's “Thrilla in Manilla.” Fans went to see a soccer game, when a boxing match broke out, as the two silver division teams had several players down on the carpet, getting back up into the fray to answer the count before the final whistle blew.
Thunder storms were forecast in Elk Grove, but lightning struck with a Clash, as the Petaluma United under-15 boys kicked a golden goal to take home the Northern California State President's Cup soccer trophy.
The No. 3-seeded Blitz and the No. 1-bracketed Clash fought to a 1-1 tie in a round-one match, and the title game was no different, as regulation ended, all knotted up at one score apiece.
In the early frame, the two Northern California teams fought to a scoreless tie, until with one minute left in the half, the Blitz struck first with a flurry, ending on a 20-yard power shot, that glanced off the heal of a Clash defender, eluding the grasp of diving goalie Kyle Harmina, who countered to block the kick, but the deflection changed the ball's trajectory into the far right net.
In the first half, the scorecard reflected Redwood beating Petaluma to the punch, and the Clash were on the ropes, limping to their corner to prepare for round two.
The Petaluma boys responded to a challenge from coach Seth Campbell, answering the second half whistle with new life, getting up off the floor to win the second half.
In the 60th minute of the game, Captain Tyler Guptill evened the score, 1-1, dodging five defenders from midfield, off a dime from Ivan Barajas, who came up lame after the dish. Guptil toe poked the ball from the left side with his right foot beyond the reach of the opposing keeper into the far right side of the net.
“That absolutely changed the entire outlook of the contest and gave us a renewed confidence,” Campbell said.
The Clash had a chance to knock out the Blitz, with one minute left in regulation. Harrison Koos was driving for the goal, but was held up in the box, setting up a knockout penalty kick, but the Redwood goalie correctly guessed left, and blocked the blow to force overtime.
“We did not want to win the game on peanlty kicks, but on the field,” Campbell said.
In the first 15-minute overtime, Petaluma and Redwood both exchanged haymakers, but no one scored a point.
In the second overtime, it looked like penalty kicks would be needed to decide the championship, but with two minutes left, Petaluma forced a defensive mistake, giving it a corner kick in its scoring zone.
To avoid penalty kicks, Petaluma sent three backline defenders into the box to muster one last punch.
Back lineman Jeffrey Lopez took the corner kick with the wind at his back, and laser beamed a shot to the right side of the full box, that deflected off the center defenseman, team captain David Sammon. The ball wound up as if on a silver platter, right in front of defender Erik Fisher, who lofted a perfect left-footed chip shot, curving right to left, upper shelf V inside the right side of the cross bar, just over the keeper's reach, and down into the net for the golden goal.
“I was just going in there to attract defenders so that our scorers would have a chance at the winner,” Fisher said. “The lone safety, Nic Petri, sent me up to the box and told me, 'Erik score the winning goal,' and I guess that is what happened. “I can't even remember what happened, and I can only see pictures in my mind. The ball came in between Matt Beck, David Sammon, and me, and after it bounced off of David's kick, it wound up waist high, right in front of me, and everyone seemed to clear away. I told myself, 'I guess I'm going to have to take the shot. I didn't even aim, but just kicked, and it went in.”
Fisher, who plays soccer for the Rincon Valley Christian School Eagles, juggles the soccer ball at least an hour every night before bed, and, it appears, muscle memory kicked in on thr golden goal.
The assist was from NCL II South League rival David Sammon of St. Vincent de Paul. “It's all a blur to me now,” he said.
“It was a combined effort of 16 really great young men, who have put a lot of time and effort into this and got what they deserved,” Campbell said.
The Petaluma United under-15 boys will represent Northern California in the Far West Regionals of the National President's Cup tournament, to be held in Boise, Idaho June 11 through June 16. The winner of that tournament will have a chance for a national championship.
To help the Petaluma United team raise funds to play in Boise and represent Northern California in the Far West Regionals of the President's Cup, donations may be made to Petaluma United. Place “Boys U15 Clash” in the memo field and mail to P.O. Box 2043, Petaluma 94953.
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