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YOUTH SOCCER: Rome YMCA Arsenal teams playing for state championships Saturday

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Rome YMCA Arsenal A15

The Rome YMCA Arsenal A15 team is one of two club teams playing for a state championship Saturday in Hampton. Shown are Haley Guererro (front row, from left), Ashley Medrano, Stephanie Castoneda, Zoe Diehl, Maggie Eddins, Rhiannon Simpson, Lauren Akemon (middle row), Allison Loveman, Emma Couch, Belle Bryant, Anna Ruth Parker, Coach Dave Eddins (back row), Janet Hartman, Jayden Boswell, Amarantha Hernandez, Leilani Rojas, Anna Dupree, Coach Scott Akemon. (Contributed photo)

The B16 finished 3rd in the Classic 3 West division this fall. On Saturday they opened up at the Cup in Griffin with Athens United Gold who finished the season 2nd in the Classic 3 East division, losing 1-0. Keeper Alex Lyle made 5 saves in loss. That afternoon they bounced back against Toombs County 4-0. Andreas Svardh got a hat trick with assists from Jordan Dupree, Patrick Shealy, and Christian Fonseca. Shealy got the 4th goal with an assist from Dupree. Shealy and Lyle combined in goal to earn the shutout.

They started strong in the cold morning Sunday with a 2-1 win over GSA Red who finished 2nd in Classic 2. Alex Lyle made 4 great saves in the win. Fonseca scored on a PK, and the game winner came from Braden Camp assisted by Dupree. That win put Arsenal in a 3 way tie for the division title with Athens and GSA. They lost 5-4 in the 8th round of a Penalty Kick shootout to decide the division winner but got into the semifinals as the tournament wild card.

There they beat Inter Atlanta 4-2. Alex Lyle made 5 great saves and was named MVP. Goals came from Svardh with the help of a deflection, Camp assisted by Fonseca, an own goal, and a Shealy header assisted by Svardh. The team had to do without regular season starters Greyson Padgett, Cooper Williams, Avery Wright, and Nolan Kelly. Svardh earned the Golden boot with 4 goals. Coach Kevan Watkins said “The boys dealt with some adverse weather in the morning games but grew into each game finishing strong. I was very happy with how far these boys have progressed individually and as a team over the past couple of seasons. Especially having the mental toughness in the semifinal to get back in the game immediately following giving up a PK in the first 2 minutes. While defensively giving very few chances away and creating chance after chance in the attack.” The guys are looking forward to their rematch with GSA Red next Saturday in Hampton at 11am.

The A15 finished the regular season 5th in the B division. They went to Hampton without their sweeper, Model’s Belle Bryant, who was out with a knee injury. Rome’s Janet Hartman moved from her stopper position to solidify the defense. The ladies opened Saturday morning versus NASA Tophat’s White. Arsenal quickly jumped out in front when Lauren Akemon scored in the 2nd minute, assisted by Anna Ruth Parker. Thirteen minutes later, Jayden Boswell doubled Arsenal’s score with a strike that found the back of the net assisted by Maggie Eddins. Boswell netted her 2nd goal of the match 3 minutes into the 2nd half, assisted by Parker. Emma Couch made 6 saves in goal securing a clean sheet in the 3-0 victory.

On Saturday afternoon, the girls faced Southern Soccer Academy’s Select Blue team. Ten minutes into the 1st half, Boswell scored Arsenal’s 1st goal, assisted by Eddins. Fourteen minutes later a handball gave Arsenal a penalty kick which Parker converted. With 3 minutes left in the 1st half Akemon scored Arsenal’s 3rd goal, assisted by Boswell. Arsenal got the 2nd half off to a quick start scoring twice in the 1st 3 minutes, when Boswell scored assisted by Akemon and 1 minute later Akemon scored assisted by Eddins. Ten minutes later Parker scored assisted by Akemon. Then Rhiannon Simpson scored, assisted by Eddins. Perry Durden scored the 8th goal assisted by Eddins. The ninth came from Allison Loveman, assisted by Haley Guerrerro. Couch earned her 2nd clean sheet making four saves.

On Sunday morning the Arsenal girls faced Rockdale Youth Soccer Association’s Blue team. Unfortunately they gave up two goals in the 1st 14 minutes of the game and lost the match 2-0. Couch had 7 saves. Despite losing to RYSA the Arsenal team qualified as the 2nd seed in their bracket earning a spot in the semi finals.

There Arsenal faced the #1 seed Dacula Soccer Club’s White team. After a back and forth scoreless first half Arsenal scored in the 2nd minute of the 2nd half when Eddins’ cross found Boswell who put the ball in the back of the net to take a 1-0 lead. DSC leveled the score 15 minutes later scoring on a breakaway. With 11 minutes left in the game, Arsenal’s Guerrero passed to Boswell whose 25 yard shot scored the game winner. Couch made ten saves ensuring Arsenal’s 2-1 victory.

The girls will face RYSA’s Blue team again in the state championship game next Saturday at 9:30 in Hampton. The game should be close and exciting as the two teams have faced each other three times in the last seven months with Arsenal winning once in a 2-0 game and RYSA twice in 3-2 and 2-0 games.

The B17 won the Championship division in the Generation Adidas Norcross Cup the weekend of December 3rd. They beat Miami Springs/Loyola Soccer of Florida 4-0 in their first game Saturday morning. In their 2nd game that afternoon they tied cross town rival Darlington Soccer Academy 1-1. Sunday morning they beat Vestavia Hills Steamers from Birmingham 4-1, which gave them first place in their bracket with 7 points, above Darlington’s 5.

On a side note, Arsenal and Darlington SA alumni Russell Shealy (brother of Patrick) is now playing goalie for the new MLS club Atlanta FC United’s Under 18 team who have completed play in 2016 ranked 1st in the nation.