The SOCA U14 Boys Elite team opened their 2017 VYSA State Cup account with a 2-1 win over DC Stoddart Metros on Saturday, April 1. The match was hosted at the scenic Blue Ridge School stadium field in St. George, after relocating the contest due to unplayable conditions on local natural grass fields.
Coach Matt Rowe’s crew started the match brightly with a majority of possession and eight opportunities on goal in the first 15 minutes. While none of the early chances troubled the DC Stoddart keeper much, it was an indication of SOCA’s dominance. In the early going Josh Inouye was bossing the midfield along with Brian Zentz, looking to connect with front runner Malcolm Brickhouse.
SOCA turned up the urgency and the seemingly inevitable goal came at the 20 minute mark from Nate Santos, off a nifty combination that pierced the left side of the visitor’s defense.
It seemed SOCA might cruise to comfortable victory, except that the DC squad had other ideas. After weathering the minutes immediately following the goal, Stoddart grabbed the equalizer at 30 minutes on a rare counter attack that caught SOCA defenders chasing the swift move.
The remainder of the half was inconclusive as both squads sought to gain control of the match rhythm.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half saw the tide shift to the visitors, as SOCA lost their firm grip on the game. It wasn’t until the 62nd minute that Brickhouse scored the game winner by stripping a defender of the ball just outside the DC penalty area, holding off the ensuing physical challenge and calmly bending his well-placed shot inside the back post.
The late goal encouraged the SOCA squad but also inspired increased effort from the visitors. Knowing the unforgiving nature of the single-elimination knock-out format of the Cup, DC Stoddart rallied to apply maximum pressure all over the field in the time remaining.
The locals attempted to show composure and possess the ball with confidence until to the closing whistle, but found themselves scrambling in the final three minutes as visitors poured forward seeking a desperation equalizer.
The win advances the third seeded SOCA U4 Elites to face VYS Spartans Red in the round of 16. Schedules for that round have not yet been released.
SOCA will host two State Cup matches at South Fork Soccer Park on Saturday, April 8, with the U13 Boys Elite (3:00 pm, Field 4, vs Va Rush) and the U12 Girls Apprentice (1:00 pm, Field 5, vs Loudoun) kicking off their State Cup campaign.