YMS Xplosion comes all the way back to win
BARBOURSVILLE -- It was just two days ago that the U-18 Boys YMS Xplosion (Pa.-E) were literally packing their stuff at the Barboursville Soccer Complex because they thought they were going home.
Now, they will soon be packing their bags for the US Youth Soccer Nationals in Overland Park, Kan, after earning a 1-0 win over TSF Academy Celtic (N.J.) in the finals of the US Youth Soccer Region I tournament.
It was quite the turnaround of emotion from Sunday for YMS Xplosion coach John Greaves.
YMS Xplosion lost 1-0 on Sunday, and on the field opposite them, a team from Manhattan (NY-E) was tied 1-1 and needed to score for the Xplosion to advance. There was only five minutes left in the match when Greaves and his team began watching.
"The boys were watching the game and my assistant said to me 'Come on, John. We're leaving,'" Greaves said. "We picked the balls up and Manhattan crossed the ball into the net right before the ref blew the final whistle.
"We went from going home to going to the semifinal that quick. It's amazing how that happened."
Tuesday's championship match against TSF Academy (NJ) provided just as much excitement with the teams battling throughout the match.
The game went scoreless well into the second half, and it appeared TSF would get on the board after a penalty kick was awarded with just about 12 minutes remaining in regulation, much to the chagrin of the Xplosion players.
Irony was abound in the situation as last year's game between the two sides also was decided on a late penalty kick awarded to YMS, who also was the Region I champ in 2009.
It appeared that was in jeopardy with the call, but YMS goalkeeper Drew Hutchins made the play of the match, diving to his right to get a hand on the kick before controlling the rebound to leave the game scoreless.
"Our coach said coming in that it takes hard work, commitment and a little bit of luck," Hutchins said. "The PK save was a little bit of luck. I was lucky enough to get a hand on it."
Greaves wasn't buying it, however.
"He's the best penalty keeper I've ever seen," Greaves said. "We expect him to save penalties. Once he saved that, I knew it was imminent we'd win. If we'd have gone to penalty kicks, I'd have bet my life on it."
The game still appeared destined for penalty kicks as the teams fought the intense heat well into the second overtime session.
Then, following a scrum in the box, the Xplosion's Johnny Louisignau knocked home a rebound off the crossbar for the game's lone goal.
After the game, Louisignau got a Gatorade shower from his teammates.
"He had his issues this week, but he's a strong kid," Greaves said. "We kept telling him that he would get the winner this week. It's funny how it happens like that."
The US Youth Soccer National Championships are scheduled for July 21-25 in Overland Park, Kan.