WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
After an undefeated group stage during the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships, Virginia Legacy U17 Elite saw its tournament run come to an end after a 5-2 loss to Lehigh Valley United 97 in the semifinal round.
“They were really good,” Virginia Legacy coach Bobby O’Brien said. “We gave up a couple of easy goals, one off a set piece and one off a deflection. We did great to fight back and get it back level.”
The game got off to an inauspicious start for Legacy U17 Elite, surrendering goals in the 30th and 40th minute.
Legacy U17 Elite fought back as Antonio Gonzalez scored off a free kick from 30 yards away in the 43rd minute, cutting the Lehigh Valley United 97 lead in half.
The momentum from the late goal carried into the second half as Legacy U17 Elite got on the board 15 minutes into the second half. Brennan Burton put his head on a Reeves Trott corner kick, finishing the ball in the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.
With 20 minutes left in the game, Lehigh Valley United 97 was called for a red card, giving Legacy U17 Elite a man advantage heading into the waning moments of the game.
Being up a player allowed Legacy U17 Elite to push forward and apply deep pressure on offense. However, the added pressure from Legacy U17 Elite midfielders and forwards gave way to a counterattack for Lehigh Valley United 97 that eventually ended in a goal.
Suddenly trailing 3-2 late in the contest, O’Brien chose to push more attackers forward in hopes of finding the equalizer. Instead of surrendering the game-tying goal, Lehigh Valley United 97 again took advantage of the depleted Legacy U17 Elite defense, scoring a pair of goals stemming from long passes.
“When we had to press forward, it leaves you one-on-one and all they’re going to do is play it long and put that pressure on you,” O’Brien said.
Legacy U17 Elite finishes the Region I tournament as bronze medalists, which O’Brien said tied the best finish by a Williamsburg club team in the tournament. And despite the loss, O’Brien said playing in the tournament was a positive experience for his players and highlighted how far the team has come.
“It’s been a fantastic trip from day one, to practice a bit and be around each other,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of the kids. Three years ago they were at the bottom of their league in VA, and now they’re one of the top four teams in their region and 20 minutes away of advancing to the final eight in the entire nation.”