In what was undoubtedly the greatest game in Patriot FC history, the U13 Red Boys team captured their 3rd PA State Cup title in a seesaw battle with defending champion Penn Fusion. Martin Menendez converted the 7th PK of the PK shootout to send the boys to the Eastern Regionals in Kingston, Rhode Island in late June.
The game started out ominous for Patriot FC as Penn Fusion converted early on a breakaway. Patriot FC GK, Brett Werner, kept the boys in it with 3 outstanding saves. Unfortunately he was kicked in the head and concussed on one of them. Connor Fife equalized the match half way through the 1st half with a beautiful header. Minutes later Penn Fusion grabbed the lead, 2-1, and Werner was forced to leave the match and Connor Fife stepped in between the pipes.
The boys came out very confident in the 2nd half as they knew they had carried the play in the 1st. 10 minutes in, Nick Hazel tied the score 2-2 on a gorgeous finish as he chipped the ball over the Penn Fusion GK. Patriot FC had the ball in the Penn Fusion half for most of the 2nd half, but were unable to convert and the game headed into overtime (2, 10 minute halves).
One minute into overtime, one of the Patriot FC center backs was sent off after receiving his 2nd yellow card leaving Patriot FC a man down. Within 1 minute, Penn Fusion took advantage and went up 3-2 after replacement GK Fife made a diving save that deflected off of the post and to the feet of a Penn Fusion player who calmly slid the ball into the back of the net.
Halfway through the 2nd OT, Coach McLaughlin felt it was time to gamble and pushed one of his backs to striker. Then with 2 minutes left, Jack McCourt basically refused to give up and knocked one home to equalize the match. It was on to a penalty kick shootout.
Penn Fusion went 1st and scored followed by Conor O’Donnell for Patriot FC who also converted. As they got to the 5th kick, both teams had made 3 and missed one. Penn Fusion buried their kick and now it was up to the replacement GK, Connor Fife, to extend the shootout. He buried his PK into the side netting. Now it was a sudden death format and Penn Fusion made their first attempt. Jack McCourt rose to the occasion again and calmly knocked his in the back of the net. On PK 7, Connor Fife came up huge with an incredible diving save thus setting the stage for Menendez (who skipped his Confirmation to play). He rocketed his PK home and a celebration ensued, both on the field and on the parent sideline as well.
It was a glorious scene and an incredible exhibition of heart and guts. Don’t be surprised if these boys come home with an Eastern Regional Title in 6 weeks!
Players: Brett Werner, Martin Menendez, Will Noe, Ben Greenstein, Justin Scharf, Michael Capone, Nick Hazel, Thomas Muzekari, Sam Roberts, Conor O’Donnell, Connor Fife, Griffin Barnes, Aaron Baxter, Jared Fielding, Vadev Varadarajan, Kevin Sheenan, Sacha Rubenstein, Jack McCourt
Click here for a video of the PK shootout.