The 2020-21 US Youth Soccer Piedmont Conference season continued this past weekend, as 90 boys and girls teams from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in the 14U-19U age groups competed at North Mt. Carmel Soccer Complex and McCurry Park in Fayetteville, Ga.
Despite some wet weather conditions, teams put in the effort and competed at a high level throughout the weekend. There were a number of matchups that saw teams put in strong performances to secure victories and move up in the standings.
In the 19U Girls age group, Carolina FC Elite (SC) earned a close win against Darlington SA (GA) on Sunday.
Darlington came out strong in the first half to open the scoring. In the 10th minute, the Georgia side drove the ball down the right side and sent a well-placed ball across the goal box, where a teammate directed a shot just past the keeper in the bottom right corner. Carolina FC equalized later on with a combined team effort when Caelan Gaul started the build-up from the defensive end and passed to Lauren Kelly, who brought the ball down the left sideline. Kelly worked a give-and-go with Priscilla Mawi and then placed the ball in the upper left corner of the net to send the game into halftime with a score of 1-1. In the 77th minute, Carolina FC defender Adelle Pruitt lofted a ball back into the goal box and Priscilla Mawi won a battle with the keeper to get on the end of it for a second goal. Darlington SA had some great chances on goal in the last 10 minutes of play, but after some spectacular saves by goalkeeper LaDonna Tolbert, Carolina FC was able to hold on to the 2-1 lead for the victory.
Carolina FC Elite head coach Amer Resumovic talked about his team’s experience in the Piedmont Conference, as well as the team’s goals for the season.
“Most of the games have been very competitive and the level of the teams playing in the league is high,” Resumovic said. “There were games that we were on the front foot for the entire 90 minutes but lost. The experience in the league has taught us that we have to play with our maximum effort and focus until the end and that we can’t underestimate any team we play against.
“The goal is to do the best we can in the league and prepare for the South Carolina State Cup, but long term player development is always our first priority. We want to prepare all our players for the next level, helping those that want to play in college prepare for ID camps and ultimately get committed to a college program. We are happy to say we currently have four commits with another five actively talking with prospective colleges.”
In the 15U Boys age group, Georgia Storm SA 06B Premier (GA) took on Wake FC 06 Blue (NC) on Sunday.
Early in the game, Wake FC headed a cross outside their own 18 yard box, but it fell to Georgia Storm's Isaac Cruz, who hit a shot from about 25 yards that looped over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net for a 14th-minute breakthrough goal. Right after the break, Wake FC’s Amare Lucas put a through ball to Vaughn Lewis who was able to play the ball past the keeper to tie the game in the 46th minute. In the 66th minute, Georgia Storm's Wyatt Mathis-Kline received a ball on the left wing and played a wall pass with Georgia Storm's Oscar Serna that enabled Mathis-Kline to dribble into the 18-yard box and hit a shot low and hard into the net — giving Georgia Storm the 2-1 lead. In the 74th minute, Georgia Storm goalkeeper Jon Smith came up with a sprawling save to his left on a left-footed shot from Wake FC’s Amare Lucas to secure the victory for Georgia Storm.
Georgia Storm SA director and 06B head coach Sasan Lak said that remnants from the hurricane that came through the area affected the conditions and each team’s style of play. However, he said his team persevered through the contest and capitalized on its opportunities that were given to it, in addition to winning aerial battles in the defending half.
Lak discussed how his team’s goals and approach for this season after winning its division last year.
“After winning the Piedmont Conference last year, we have really pushed ourselves to be better this year,” Lak said. “We started training and scrimmaging against our 2004B National League team, as well as started focusing on our attack in the final third. Georgia is a great state to play in, but being part of the Piedmont Conference and being able to add top teams from North Carolina and South Carolina helps round out a league that is strong from top to bottom. We are looking forward to representing the Piedmont Conference again in the National League Playoffs later this year in Tampa.”
The next Piedmont Conference hosted event will be on Oct. 17-18 in Columbia, S.C., at SCUFC West Soccer Complex and SE Freight Lines Soccer Center. The event will include 90 teams in the 14U-18U Boys and 14U-19U Girls age groups.
For more information on the Piedmont Conference, including schedules, scores, and standings, click here.
For more information on all of the National League Conferences, the National League Showcase Series, and the National League Playoffs, click here.