February 11, 2020
Casa Grande, Ariz – Back at Grande Sports World – Back at Grande Sports World after the holiday break, Barça Residency Academy’s U-19s matched up with Redmond Washington’s Crossfire Premier on Saturday in their first game of the new year. In an exciting, competitive game, Barça pulled ahead in the second half and never relinquished their lead en route to a 2-1 victory over No. 4 USSDA ranked Crossfire Premier.
Barça Residency Academy U-19 vs. Crossfire
Right from the very start of the game, Barça Residency Academy’s dangerous attack threatened their opponents. Just after kickoff, left winger Julian Gaines began wreaking havoc out wide, dribbling at and beating Crossfire Premier’s right back and getting into the box. In the third minute, Gaines moved effortlessly down the wing, drove into the box, and took a shot on goal. The opposing goalkeeper saved the attempt, but in doing so, deflected the ball towards Barça striker Ilijah Paul. Paul collected the rebound and took a shot with his first touch, sending it just wide.
Though they weren’t able to convert their first chance, Barça’s hot start led to more and more goalscoring opportunities later on in the match. Thirty minutes after their opening chance, Barça nearly scored again. Center back Pedro Mondragon burst forward from the back, dribbling forward and laying the ball off to Paul, whose shot went just over the bar. For the next ten minutes, Barça continued controlling the game. While they went into half-time with the score still tied at 0-0, Barça’s defending had not faltered and their possession was becoming increasingly difficult for Crossfire Premier to control.
After halftime, it didn’t take long for Barça Residency Academy to build on their quality, albeit goalless, first half performance. Paul had a lovely attacking sequence in the 55th minute, where he weaved through a pair of Crossfire defenders and hit the ball with his right foot towards the far-side netting, but the goalkeeper was just able to slide over and parry the shot away from goal.
Finally, in the 60th minute, Barça broke through. Gaines glided down the left wing and slipped midfielder Amadeo Chapru Tate into the box. Chapru Tate picked up his head and found Paul making a run at the back post. This time, Paul struck the ball cleanly with his first touch and converted the tap-in to give Barça a 1-0 lead. Eight minutes later, Paul struck again. Defensive midfielder Nick Fernandez made a late-arriving run into the box, received the ball, and played it across the box to Paul, who converted another tap-in to make it 2-0.
Down two goals with time running out, Crossfire Premier began pushing more players forward into the attack. With their more aggressive strategy, the visitors scored one goal off of a set piece in the 80th minute to make it 2-1, but were never able to even the scoreline. Barça’s creative attack and consistent defense was too much to overcome.
“I thought the guys were excellent today,” head coach Ged Quinn said after the match. “You know you are always going to be in for a tough game when you play against Crossfire and I thought the guys rose to the occasion today and fully deserved the win. We played some great soccer at times and scored a couple of excellent goals, we were a little unlucky not to score more. The work rate was also tremendous, they all worked hard to see the game out when Crossfire were pushing on towards the end of the game, it was a real team performance and showed the unity that this group has right now. It’s essential that we use this win to kickstart the spring season for us so that we can try to put together a run of results to help us reach our goals for the year.”
All three of Barça Academy’s DA teams will enjoy a week off, before taking the field again on Saturday, February 22nd. On the 22nd, the U-19s will face off against Strikers FC at Grande Sports World while the U-17s and U-15s will travel to Irvine, California to take on Pateadores.