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All Midwest Super-20 Final Set
Pacesetter and Force primed for title game

Super-20 League Feature

Saturday, July 20, 2013

- Force Football Club Academy advanced to the Super-20 League Championship final via a nail-biter against the Toronto Lynx in the second of two semifinals at IMG Academy Saturday. The 1-0 match featured a decisive strike from FFCA's Bubacarr Jobe in the 10th minute of the first overtime in the hotly contested match.

Both teams slogged it out in the humid Florida afternoon. The only real chance of the first half came in the 15th minute when FFCA’s Nazeem Bartman wiggled past two defenders and forced a good save from Lynx goalkeeper Triston Henry.

Just before halftime Jobe gave a flash of what was to come when he chested the ball up in the air and hit a bicycle kick wide of the right post. The Lynx had a golden opportunity slip through their fingers at the start of the second half when Anthony Novak got on the end of a poor back pass and blasted his shot wide of the post.

At the end of regulation both teams were exhausted and the 0-0 stalemate meant extra time. The game-winner came right before the break in the two halves of overtime. Bartman whipped in a corner and the second ball fell to Jobe who hit a half volley under the outstretched Henry in the 100th minute.

It was an emotional battle for the regional rivals, and subsequently Toronto saw itself reduced to eight men before the overtime expired.

“Either team could have won it, really. It was a great finish by [Jobe] that got us the win. They’re a very resilient team and we saw that early on when they looked a bit sharper. We’ve played them before and we knew it would be tough,” Force Coach Chris Edwards said. “Tonight we will get some ice baths and tomorrow morning we will see who can play.”

Pacesetter SC 2, St. Louis Scott Gallagher 0

Pacesetter SC continued its run in the Super-20 League Championship presented by Nike by defeating St. Louis Scott Gallagher 2-0 in the first of the semifinals Saturday afternoon.

It was a sweltering afternoon with the heat index topping at 102 degrees. Both teams showed signs of fatigue, but the will to play on had both keepers busy in the first 10 minutes.

It wasn’t until the 21st minute that either team had a solid chance. St. Louis’ Brett Lane got his head on a corner and flicked his header just wide of the far post.

Six minutes later Kevin Tikhormiroff of Pacesetter managed to make solid contact on a quick counter but pulled his shot wide of the right post. Pacesetter continued to threaten and dominate the air as St. Louis’ legs tired. The first goal came shortly after the second half began.

A quick punt from Pacesetter keeper Michael Soderlund freed Youssef Naciri behind the St. Louis defense, but Lane made an incredible recovery run and blocked the shot just wide for a corner. However, Pacesetter was determined to open the scoring and after a poor clearance from the corner kick Matt Almsetter slotted a short pass into Naciri, who beat the offside trap and then the keeper with a low curling shot to the far post.

St. Louis regained some of it’s foothold as the second half progressed and it sent numbers forward, but Pacesetter was unrelenting in the back. Ryan Merrifield latched onto a ball in the box and fired a rocket to the low right corner, but before it could get there Zach Martin threw his body in front of it and blocked it away.

St. Louis made one final attempt to get the equalizer on an 88th-minute corner as it sent all 11 players into the box. The commitment proved to be fatal, however, and Naciri cleared the corner downfield to Tikhormiroff, who only had dribble the ball into the empty net for a final score of Pacesetter SC 2, St. Louis Scott Gallagher 0.

“We’ve played well defensively all tournament...We’ve played both the Toronto Lynx and Force [Football Club Academy] in the regular season and we know they’re good teams,” Pacesetter SC Coach Ryan Creech said. “The team with more fitness, the team that runs harder, the team that has more courage will have the best chance at winning tomorrow.”

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