SLSG Academy nearly pulled off a massive upset against the U.S. Under-17 National Team this past Saturday Night at the Soccer Park. SLSG set the pace of the game early as Austin Panchot hit a one touch 5th minute bomb from the top of the box into the upper corner.
“The ball popped out perfectly after a cross from Sendobry ” said Panchot. “I knew I struck it well and when I saw it hit the net the feeling was indescribable!”
SLSG poured on even more pressure and capitalize again in the 24th when Brian Hail slotted a nice diagonal ball to Hackett, who then netted it low far post. The estimated 3500 fans went crazy and the atmosphere was electric.
A scary moment in the 27th when Jeffery Hopson collided with USA’s Christopher Lema on a 50/50 head ball. Lema was yellow carded and Hopson left the game with a concussion. Keegan McHugh was his replacement and immediately impacted the match with a penetrating pass to Hackett in the 32nd but Hackett’s shot just missed wide.
The USMNT U17’s stole one back just before halftime and the local Academy boys entered the locker room with a 2-1 lead. Midway through the 2nd half SLSG started to wear down from the USMNT’s quick passing style of play from their extremely athletic players. The Academy held on till the 74th minute when the US tied it up. Twelve minutes later the National Team struck again to take the lead 3-2 (86th).
SLSG immediately started pressing and pushed hard for the later equalizer. One close off-sides prevented a breakaway chance and the five minutes of added time ran out before the team could tie the game and nearly tied it up in the 90th but eventually ran out of time.
“We played well against an elite group of players,” said Academy Director Tim Regan. “Fatigue became a factor in the 2nd half but the team put forth a fantastic effort which showcased the club’s talented players.”
Overall is was a fantastic night for SLSG from a club culture standpoint as the majority of the large crowd was SLSG youth teams decked out in their white jerseys.
“Our young players witnessed live how we want them to play and now have these Academy players as role models for years to come,” said SLSG Missouri Boys Program Director Kip Thompson.
The game was a benefit for Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, specifically the Mary McDermott Cardiac Catheterization Suite.
“It was a great night for Soccer in St. Louis, said SLSG club President Jim Kavanaugh. “To see our Academy Team compete against the best players in the country was very exciting for all three thousand plus fans in attendance at our newly renovated Soccer Park. In addition to a great night of soccer, we raised several thousand dollars for a few different charities.”
The SLSG Academy plays at the Soccer Park again this Saturday Night (9/15) as they take on long time rivals the Chicago Magic PSG. The U18’s kick off at 4 PM and the U16s are at 6:30 PM (admission is free).