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Strikers U-20 Finish Runner-Up at Lauderhill Youth Soccer Classic

Late drama in final spoils dominant group stage performance
Dec 19, 2016

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers debut in the Lauderhill Youth Soccer Classic proved successful, though in end the Red & Gold came up just short of capturing the title.

 

2016 marked the first time the Strikers entered a U-20 side in the tournament put on by CASA (Caribbean Americas Soccer Association) and the City of Lauderhill at the Lauderhill Sports Complex. Featuring youth sides from both Florida and the Caribbean, the tournament included CASA's own U-20 side, Barbados U-20, Jamaica's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association U-20s, West Florida Flames (Tampa Bay), Chivas USA (Sarasota), and Plantation FC U-20 alongside the Strikers.

 

The Strikers squad notably featured 18-year old goalkeeper Matias Reynares, who played on the 2016 Strikers senior team as a backup and also saw action for the club's NPSL U-23 team and participated in the U-19 Weifang Cup in China in 2016. The Strikers team also included Adam Hassan, the younger brother of former Strikers forward Aly Alberto Hassan.

 

The first match for the Strikers was against CASA, where goals from Nicholas Nelson (1), Jarnni Prieto (2) and Alessandro Campoy (1) would see the Strikers go on to an impressive 4-0 victory to open the tournament. This was just a taste of what was in store for the rest of the tournament.

 

Matchday 2 saw the Red & Gold taking on the West Florida Flames, and there was no end in sight to the offensive eruption from the Strikers. Inigo Sagardui (1), Santiago Patino (1), Uilisses Serize (1) and Juan Ramirez (1) all chipped in on the scoreboard, while Nelson followed up his day one goal with a hat trick, making it a 7-0 scoreline. So thorough was the Strikers' dismantling of West Florida that the head referee had seen enough and put the mercy rule into effect, blowing the final whistle and ending the match about 10 minutes short of full time.

 

The first two impressive results had already put the Strikers into the tournament final, and match #3 would be a formality. However Barbados was forced to forfeit the match, officially handing the Strikers a 3-0 victory on the scoresheet. That result coupled with the first two matches had the Strikers heading into the final showdown with Jamaica with a tremendous 3-0-0 record and a +14 goal difference with no goals allowed.

 

The final however would be a much more evenly matched contest. The Jamaican side was able to hold the Strikers to just one goal (Inigo Sagardui's 2nd of the tournament), but found themselves trailing 1-0 in the dying minutes of the match, chasing for the equalizer. Just as a third straight clean sheet looked to be in the bag for Reynares, the young keeper was injured and the Strikers were forced to make a substitution. The Jamaican side were able to score and tie the game after a controversial restart, sending the game straight to penalty kicks to decide the champion. PKs aren't always fair, and this was the case for the Strikers on the night as Jamaica went on to win the shootout 4-2, and take the title.

 

Despite the disappointing finish, it was a dominating overall performance from the Strikers in the 2016 Lauderhill Youth Soccer Classic, and a tremendous experience for the young players on the squad.

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