98B Blue are Tall Trees Champs!
98B wins 2011 Tall Trees Tourney
Palo Alto Soccer Club’s 98B Blue was crowned the U14 Boys champion of the 16th Annual Tall Trees Tournament.
The first game was scheduled to be played against San Carlos United Fury. Blue fancied its chances since Fury had been easily beaten 5-0 in a prior game that morning by Santa Clara Youth Soccer League Bull Dogs. However, Blue had a lukewarm start in the game with a lackluster 1-1 tie netting only 4 points toward their overall point total. In fact, Fury scored first before Blue scored in the very last minute of play to equalize!
Next it was time for Blue to meet the Bull Dogs, who looked formidable coming off their comprehensive victory in the morning. The Bull Dogs star forward scored first, but Siddharth Srinivasan had an arching, long-distance shot to help Blue equalize 1-1. With time running out, Seena Huang and Ariya Momeny combined to rip the ball away from the Bull Dogs and pass it to Siddharth. Siddharth juked a Dog and skimmed a perfect ball past 2 Dogs to Cameron Huard who knocked it into the goal for a 2-1 finish, successfully muzzling their competition.
With only a tie and one victory under their belt, Blue made it into the semi-finals against the Mill Valley Fusion. Despite many chances for both teams, the score was level at 0-0 at full-time. This provided the added excitement of PKs for fans and parents. However, with one uncharacteristic Blue miss and two shots saved by the Fusion Keeper, Blue’s tournament fortunes appeared to be jeopardized. Fortunately, the Fusion had some misses of their own and Blue won on the heels of fantastic spot kicks from Ariya Momeny and Denis Bremer.
Blue was now onto the finals – a rematch with the Bull Dogs, who had squeaked past the sister team, Palo Alto 98B White 1-0. Blue played with great intensity right through the first half. Winning a free kick, Brennan Baker shot a ball from the right to the far post with Siddharth leaping into the air to try and volley it into the net. Unfortunately, the Bull Dogs keeper was moving rapidly through space with both fists out right into Siddharth and both players tumbled to the ground with injuries that removed them from play. As the second half progressed with no result, Blue became frantic with only ten minutes left. Throw-ins normally reserved for Alexandre “Alex” Philippe’s long distance bombs were shunned for quick tosses. The Blue’s defensive backs pushed up leaving the Blue’s keeper, Louis Toennis, with little support. The Dogs saw the opportunity with a quick through-ball to their star forward. With assistance far behind, Louis charged their forward, forcing an early kick straight at the goal. Louis attempted a desperate save blocking the kick with 2 out-stretched arms; however, the ball tumbled into the goal in the melee, putting the Dogs up 1-0. Finally, as the clock ticked away, Blue earned a corner! Cameron Huard and Solomon Rivkin rushed to grab the ball. Cameron got to the ball first, so Solomon returned to the 18 to go for goal. The corner kick was on target, bending toward goal, but it was low with 3 tall Bull Dogs ready to head it away. The Bull Dog’s stand-in keeper yelled, “Keeper!” calling off the Dogs. Instinctively, Eric Nichols weaved through the Bull Dogs and smashed a decisive header to the back of the net. Tied 1–1, the Bull Dogs coach convinced their injured keeper to return to the game in case it went to PKs. The Bull Dogs were now panicking and kicked-off before the keeper substitution is made. Seconds later the referee’s whistle blew, ending the 2nd half excluding the Bull Dogs’ keeper from participating in PKs.
The PK’s started out well with a powerful kick from Blue’s Dennis Bremer directly to the upper left corner of the goal. The Bull Dogs followed with their first kick, which was straight down the middle for an easy save by Blue’s Keeper, Cameron Huard. 1-0 Blue. Blue’s Brennan Baker kept up Dennis’ tradition with another beautifully placed ball in the left corner of the net. The Bull Dogs matched the effort to the right. 2-1 Blue. Blue’s Matthew Martin then launched an unstoppable rocket to the upper right followed by the Bull Dogs’ second kick to the upper left. Blue’s Keeper guessed the direction of this second kick and got his fingers on the ball deflecting it onto the post. The ball spun, coming to a rest just past the goal line. 3-2 Blue. Damilola “Dami” Bolarinwa was next up with a strong kick to the lower left of the goal. It was now the Bull Dogs turn. If they missed, it would all be over. The final Dogs kick was a good effort to the upper-mid right. However, Blue’s keeper was right there and pushed it away for a fantastic save! Palo Alto Blue were the winners of the Tall Trees Tournament in PKs!