CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Having taken a maximum six points from their opening two matches, the Fire U16s came into Monday’s group finale needing only a draw to take the Challenge Cup trophy.
They got much more than that, earning a dominant 4-0 victory over the home-standing SC United Battery on the Blackbaud Stadium pitch.
Dominating throughout most of the match, the team would go ahead in the 19th minute when Luca Giovine pounced on a loose ball at the top of the box, before hitting a bullet into the lower right corner.
They’d double their lead 10 minutes later when Alex Underwood down the left and cut into the box before hitting a low blast past the Battery ‘keeper to take the team into the break up 2-0.
The Fire continued in a possession oriented game after halftime and found a third goal as Underwood again broke into the box on the left and rounded the Battery ‘keeper before setting Giovine up with an easy finish into the empty net in the 58th minute.
With the U16s firmly in control, they’d add one more on a similar play when Ian Larson beat his mark on the left and centered for Daniel Hayes, who coolly finished the scoring in the 74th minute.
Sitting 9-3-3 overall (third place) in U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Mid-America Division, the U16s return to league play against counterparts Indiana Fire Academy on Sunday, March 10 at IUPUI.
Fire U-18s down SC United Battery 5-0
Though they’d already clinched the group on Sunday, the Fire U18s defeated SC United Battery 5-0 Monday to also go a perfect 3-0-0 at the weekend tournament
The Fire broke a tight first half tie in the 38th minute when midfielder Brandon Medina’s direct free kick ricocheted off of both posts before crossing the line to take the team into the break up 1-0.
In the second half, the Fire proceeded to put the clamps on the Battery, tallying four more goals.
In the 67th minute, midfielder Cody Witkowski found a loose ball at the top of the box, quickly shifted to leave his defender in the dust and dribble around the ‘keeper for a 2-0 lead.
In the 79th, forward Daniel Szcepanek chased down a ball back to the ‘keeper who let up on the play and allowed the Fire striker an easy tap-in.
With the game in the bag, Dylan Kurtz and Ricky Aldape added late strikes for an emphatic 5-0 victory.
The U18s sit on a 7-4-3 record and fourth place in the USSFDA’s Mid America Division and also open up the spring season against the Indiana Fire Academy on March 10 at IUPUI.
Academy Weekend Notes
* The U14 Fire Academy also won the Carolina Challenge Academy Cup, going 2-0-1 over the weekend.
* The five Chicago-based Fire Academy teams went a combined 13-1-3 at this weekend’s tournament.