PENN FUSION 93 BOYS CROWNED DISNEY CHAMPIONS

(December 31, 2009) LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - Penn Fusion Soccer Academy’s U16 Boys traveled to Florida to participate in the 2009 Disney Soccer Showcase. Penn Fusion opened tournament play with a 2-1 win over RSL Florida and then continued their winning ways through to the Championship!

U16 Showcase: Penn Fusion 1, Cincinnati United Premier 1 (Penn Fusion wins on penalties, 3-1) written by Jahmal Corner & Robert Ziegler, ESNN. Click here for complete article.

For some athletes, finding redemption from a critical mistake can take a very long time. For some, it never comes. For Penn Fusion goalkeeper Sam Frymier, it took about 90 minutes real time.

Frymier’s error allowed CUP Peter Riewald to score at the end of the 1st half and take a 1-0 lead over Penn in the championship match Wednesday, but the goalkeeper came through with some big 1v1 saves in regulation and overtime (after Penn’s Joseph Raymond had tied the score with a late goal), and then delivered three consecutive penalty saves in the post-match bout of spot kicks to give the Philadelphia-area side the win.

Frymier said he was able to read the body language of the CUP spot kick takers and breakaway forwards, to some degree.

“On two of them I saw them open up their body, so I knew they were trying to go to their weaker side, so I just tried to push it wide,” he said. “(On the breakaways) I just try to get in the right position and read their feet and have the reflexes to get to where the ball is going.”

Penn Fusion is a blended team effort sponsored by clubs West Chester and Spirit United

Lee Martin, who coaches the team along with Sean McCafferty, said the team showed a lot of character to come back late and force the match into overtime.

“We’ve come down here with a short bench. Our two central defenders weren’t able to travel with us, so we had a central midfielder and our right back playing in central defense for us. Our national team player, Melvin Snoh, got hurt after 20 minutes in the 1st game and hasn’t played since, so we only had two subs all week. In the first half we did well, and the 2nd half it was a combination of four games in four days and the legs getting a little heavy,” he said. “We just kept changing the formation and pushing players on. We knew we had the character and quality in the team that we can beat anybody in the country. I’m pleased for Sam because obviously he made that mistake on their goal and his head was down at halftime, but he came up and made some good saves in the 2nd half and kept us in the game, then came up big in the penalties.”

Penn had the better of the 1st half despite ending the 40 minutes behind 1-0 on Riewald’s goal. Sasha Safavi was a strong presence up front for Penn, showing good ability in the air and drawing a lot of defenders to himself. Hunter Booth was a good defender for CUP, tackling well and using his speed to get involved in the attack out of the back.

Riewald showed a good left foot on the wing for CUP, serving some dangerous balls into the area on set pieces, which Penn did not defend so well in the opening half. One of those saw CUP’s Josh Spaw send a header against the upright just minutes before Riewald’s goal.  

In the 2nd half, Penn’s Kyle Borror looked good in defense, showing a good soccer brain, solid skills and speed to help the team’s back line. Thomas Shiiba was quick and skilled and basically dangerous in the forward third for Penn.

But the CUP back line of Spaw, Booth, Riewald and Joseph Veatch was very organized and it appeared the Ohioans were frustrating the Penn players, who as Martin mentioned were growing weary. The title looked to be going CUP’s way until Penn scored a dramatic equalizer in the closing minutes of regulation.

The move started when Penn’s Chad Craig advanced the ball on the left and sent a good serve in. Safavi created a scramble in the area with his flick-on header. The ball eventually fell back to the big striker and his low drive forced CUP goalkeeper Shane Kelly into a good save, but Penn’s Joseph Raymond was there for the rebound and knocked it into the back of the net to make it 1-1 and send the game into overtime.

Again in the extra session it was Frymier who had to save the day for Penn, twice denying CUP’s lightning-quick Joey Haberer on good chances in the opening 10-minute OT.  

Then came final redemption and the boys from the Philly area hoisting the trophy.

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