28 Feb Academy Recap: Barça Academy at San Diego Surf
February 28, 2018
Barça Academy’s US Soccer Development Academy teams traveled to San Diego, CA to take on Surf Soccer Club at Surf Cup Sports Park. The U-15s dropped a close game by a score of 1-0. The U-17s followed up with a 2-1 victory over Surf, extending their unbeaten run to eight matches which dates back to November of 2017. The U-19s rounded out the day with a big win, thumping the San Diego side by a score of 4-1 behind a hat-trick from Michael Merrihue.
The day of matches kicked off at Surf Cup Sports Park with Ged Quinn’s U-15s taking on their Surf counterparts. The first half was a tightly contested affair, with both teams adjusting to the tricky conditions that a windy San Diego day brought. Barça Academy was comfortable in possession as usual but failed to create clear-cut chances.
The U-15s grew into the match during the second period of playing creating chances for Dylan Akau and Ricardo Benetiz but failing to convert.
“I thought in the second half we were much better,” said Quinn. “We consistently broke down San Diego and created a number of good goal scoring opportunities. Had we been a little more clinical in front of goal the result could have been very different.”
Barça Academy seemed comfortably in control and pressed for the winning goal, but with ten minutes to go, Surf began to get a foothold in the match. The U-15s, who had defended well throughout the match, allowed a goal from a wide set piece in stoppage time and fell to a 1-0 loss.
“I thought we were a little unlucky not to get something from this game,” said Quinn. “There are a lot of positives that we can take from this game and build upon as we prepare for our next game against Golden State in a couple of weeks’ time.
The U-17s were next on the pitch, looking to defend their seven-match unbeaten streak against a Surf side which only trailed them by two points in the table.
Barça Academy began the match on the front foot and produced some excellent attacking play down the left touchline. After threatening in the early goings, the link between left-back Henry Tapper and left winger Jake LaCava produced results when the two combined to free Tapper to cross for Matthew Hoppe, who produced a top-class header to take Barça Academy into the lead.
Despite going into the lead, Barça Academy lacked their normal energy levels in the midfield and struggled to get a hold on the match. In the 26th minute, they conceded the equalizing goal from a penalty and went into halftime with the score level at 1-1.
After the second period of play began, the score would not remain level for long as LaCava would grab the goal that would ultimately give Barça Academy the win in the 47th minute. The U-17s would be made to fight to close out the game, however.
“We struggled to finish Surf off and to their credit, they put us under pressure towards the end of the game and probably deserved a point as they missed one or two excellent opportunities in the last 5 minutes,” said head coach Sean McCafferty. “The positive is that ultimately the players dug deep and found a way to get the win away from home and will learn valuable lessons as we watch the game back this week”.
The U-19s rounded out the day with a resounding 4-1 win over Surf, powered by Michael Merrihue’s hat-trick.
Barça Academy began the match in great form, possessing the ball well, pressing Surf when out of possession and forcing turnovers. The U-19s created a handful of good chances in the opening minutes of the match but couldn’t make the breakthrough until the 18th minute. Zarek Jakubowski broke Surf’s press down the right touchline and crossed for Merrihue, who headed home his first goal of the day.
Merrihue would grab a second goal right on the stroke of half-time to take Barça Academy into the break with a 2-0 lead.
The lead would be cut in half shortly after play restarted when Surf scored a goal after coming out far more aggressive in the second half.
However, their aggression led to spaces on the field for Barça Academy to exploit and in the 62nd minute Barça Academy would catch Surf out and Antonio Pugliese would score. Two minutes later, Merrihue would complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot to wrap the game up with a final score of 4-1.
“Overall, I was very pleased with the team’s performance, from the players who started and the players who came off the bench,” said coach Daniel Antunez. “We played with the intensity and determination that we need to win the game.”
Next up for Barça Academy’s U-17 and U-19 sides is a trip to Herriman, Utah to take on Real Salt Lake at Zions Bank RSL Academy Complex. The U-15s have the weekend off, and next take the field on March 10 when the academy teams travel to Whittier, CA to face FC Golden State.
U-15: Barça Academy 0 vs. San Diego Surf 1
U-17: Barça Academy 2 vs. San Diego Surf 1
U-19: Barça Academy 4 vs. San Diego Surf 1
U-17: Barça Academy vs. Real Salt Lake | 11:00 AM | Zions Bank RSL Academy Complex
U-19: Barça Academy vs. Real Salt Lake | 1:30 PM | Zions Bank RSL Academy Complex
U-15: Barça Academy @ FC Golden State | 12:00 PM
U-17: Barça Academy @ FC Golden State | 2:30 PM
U-19: Barça Academy @ FC Golden State | 5:00 PM
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