AKFC 98 United, 01 Aurora Return from Mayor’s Cup
Two AKFC squads competed against the best in the West in the Las Vegas Mayor’s Cup, held over the weekend of October 22-24, 2010.
Making their first trip out of state, the AKFC 01 Aurora girls hit the ground running, defeating the home club’s U10 side 6-0 in a preliminary friendly match on Thursday evening. The tournament proper started off a little less successfully, however, with the girls dropping to a 4-1 defeat against a very powerful Las Vegas Premier 01 White. Though the match was tied 1-1 just after the half, LV Premier used their speed very well to pour in three goals on the Alaska visitors. After regrouping and downing Downtown Las Vegas Rapids 01 Navy by a score of 4-0, the girls moved on into the semifinals to face Dynamo Vegas 01, the pre-tournament favorites.
Delaney battles for position.
In a frantic, seesaw match, the AKFC girls twice fell behind by a single goal, but markers from Gabby Wakaliuk and Delaney Shults, both of Matanuska Soccer Club, pulled the team back. Unfortunately, the winner never came, despite a number of quality half-chances, and the squad went out on penalty kicks. Still, a very credible performance at a high level for this young squad of players facing their first tests out of state.
On the much more experienced side of things, the AKFC 98 United boys returned to Vegas to compete in what’s now the #6 ranked tournament for their division in the entire nation.
The team started well, defeating the premier team from one of CalNorth’s top clubs, De Anza Force, 3-1, behind a brace from forward Ben Sande and a free-kick from Bailey Letherman. That set up what amounted to a quarterfinal showdown versus Neusport FC from Las Vegas. The locals started well, heading into the interval with a 1-0 lead. However, just after the restart, Letherman threaded a through-ball to KPSC product Josh Jackman, who buried the chance first-time to level things. The contest seesawed for the remainder of the second half; then, with under three minutes remaining, Jackman found MSC forward Kyle Broach, who beat his defender the ball and stabbed it into the roof of the net to provide the game-winner. 2-1 to AKFC and onto the semifinals, where just two years’ prior, AKFC 98 United had been knocked out on PKs by Mustang SC of California-North.
Determined not to repeat their mistakes from the prior year, AKFC stormed out of the blocks, with central midfielder Letherman scoring with a left-footed shot just two minutes into the game. Moments later, Sande doubled the lead, poking home a centering pass from Dillon Van Hoek.
Right back Josh Spannagel holds off a Vegas Silver forward.
After the half, the team upped the defensive pressure, as Vegas Silver began to hit hopeful long-balls in search of their forwards. Then, catastrophe struck, a keeper was chipped, and things were much more tense. Just minutes after cutting the AKFC lead in half, the same forward struck again, heading home from a corner to tie things up. Despite a handful of good chances in the final ten minutes, the contest went to kicks from the mark, and like two years ago, AKFC fell in spot kicks. The boys’ disappointment was made worse hours later when Vegas Silver handled Cobras 98 Red from Texas South easily to take home the crown.
Click here to view a slideshow from the AKFC 98 United Semfinals (courtesy Jaime Chew).
Click here to watch video highlights from AKFC 98 United 3 – De Anza Force 97 Blue 1
Click here to watch video highlights from AKFC 98 United 2 – Vegas Silver 2 (3-1 PKs)