By Steve Hunt, contributing writer for USYouthSoccer.org
Less than 10 minutes into their match with North Texas, the Indiana 1992 boys found themselves trailing 1-0 in the semifinals. But the side from the Hoosier State never folded, scoring three unanswered goals to open play in the 2008 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) National Championships with a 3-1 win.
"I think that we were definitely playing very tight and were hoping to get out of the first 10 (minutes) and get our legs underneath us," Kelly Findley, Indiana head coach said after the victory. "After we gave the goal away, the guys kind of kicked in, relaxed and started to play. Once we scored a goal, we felt like we deserved to be and proved that we belong. We started to play and I think that we could have gotten four or five goals by the end."
Findley's players were equally pleased with the result. "I think we did well," Indiana forward Bryce Rockwell-Ashton said. "We moved the ball well and didn't give up after the first goal. We gave it our all and got three more. We need to have a strong first 10 minutes tomorrow and not let them have a goal."
"After the first 10 minutes, we played well," Indiana forward Max Lackowecki said. "We were trying to get acclimated (at the start). After that, we played more loosely and our passes were more crisp."
North Texas got the early edge when Alex Molano nailed a blast from long range that hit inside the far post and rattled into the back of the goal in the ninth minute to make it 1-0. The Texans had opened the match on the attack and had generated the bulk of scoring chances.
But Indiana's fortunes started to change in the 22nd minute. That was when Lackowecki netted the equalizer to tie the match at 1-1. The sequence started with a long throw-in by Eric Ong. Then, Rockwell-Ashton found himself with a great chance at the left post but his effort drew metal. The carom fell to Lackowecki's feet and he put it in.
From that point on, Indiana was a different team. "After we scored, it gave us the confidence that we could do this and that we could play with those guys and beat them," Lackowecki said. "Once we got that goal, we knew we could put in more."
Indiana added another tally just after the break when Rockwell-Ashton found the back of the net in the 47th minute. Their final goal came in the 81st when Rockwell-Ashton found Eric Zavaletta on the right side and the Indiana midfielder rattled one into the upper 90 to give his side a 3-1 edge.
Just seven minutes prior, Zavaletta nearly had another goal. After getting a great feed from Rockwell-Ashton, he had a great look at the goal but his effort hit the crossbar.
After the match, Findley commended Rockwell-Ashton for his strong performance. "He's a special athlete," he said. "I think he's really fast, technical and sharp. He makes decisions that a lot of people aren't capable of much less doing. I think he's just dangerous."
North Texas did have several chances of note in the second half but was unable to convert any of those opportunities into goals. In the 78th minute, Ruben Luna had a one-on-one breakaway with just the Indiana 'keeper to beat but his shot went wide left. And two minutes later, Christopher Sendejas had a similar chance but his attempted chip shot sailed high.
While Findley was pleased with his side's performance, especially after giving up the first goal, he still wants to see improvement before tomorrow, when they will play in the 1992 Boys championship game at 9:00 AM on Field No. 7.
"I thought we got more organized from the first whistle to the end but I think we could to a little more of that," Findley said. "They believed in themselves more at the end than at the beginning and I think that was a huge step."