Santa Clara kicked-off their first bracket game with a huge match against Sacramento United, a very dangerous team ranked #1 in NorCal. Sacramento scored first but Sporting tied the game 1-1 before halftime. Then Santa Clara came-out after halftime and dominated play scoring 2 goals in the second half to stun Sac United with a convincing 3-1 victory. That sent a message to the other U18 teams that Sporting was on form at Surf Cup.
Sporting drew the Dallas Texans in their second bracket game, and had to fight the #4 ranked team from Texas. The game drew another crowd of college coaches, and the highly competitive game went back-and-forth with attacks and counter-attacks. Then Sporting broke the deadlock when David Escobar drove a hard low line drive pass across the Dallas goal, and before the Texan keeper could grab the ball, Migi Castillo flew in and flicked the ball into the back of the Dallas goal. The second half was a battle of attacking and counter- attacking and it looked like Santa Clara would win their second bracket game, but Dallas was able to sneak in a last minute goal to tie the game 1-1.
That left Santa Clara and Dallas tied on points after the first day, and the Texans had a slight one goal lead in the goal differential category which would serve as the tie breaker if the teams finished bracket play on Sunday tied after three games. The Sporting 94s had to go out on Sunday morning and defeat the Real Salt Lake team with three goals and keep a clean sheet with no goals in their net.
The Sporting 94s came out on fire and scored two goals in the first half, then scored another pair of goals in the second half to beat Real Salt Lake 4-0. Across the field, the Dallas Texans and Sacramento United teams battled each other with the Texans coming-out on top 2-1 with yet another late game goal. But Santa Clara clinched the bracket with their 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
The Semi-finals were set-up as a NorCal match-up between Santa Clara and Diablo FC, and a SoCal match-up between the CZ Elite and Union Independiente teams.
Santa Clara won their Semi-final match over Diablo FC with an incredible goal by Ivan Ramirez late in the second half.
The win set-up a NorCal vs. SoCal battle in the Championship betwen Santa Clara and CZ Elite from Carlsbad. CZ Elite scored in the first five minutes of the Finals when a pass or shot deflected off a crowd of players into the Sporting goal. It was early in the game and Santa Clara was confident they could find an equalizer goal, then work on a game winning goal, but the CZ Elite Team packed their goal box and decided to ride-out all the attacks from Santa Clara to try and win the game. Sporting spent the entire second half shooting on the SoCal team, dominating posession and moving the ball back-and-forth trying to breakdown the CZ Elite defense, but ran out of time and finished as Finalists.
The team is led by Mike Gracyzk, who serves as a Stanford Mens Soccer Assistant Coach, and Conner Mitcell - a recent Santa Clara Broncos soccer standout. The team is now off playing high school soccer, then will return in the spring to compete in the Cal-North and NorCal State Cup Tournaments, the NorCal NPL, and hope to compete at the Dallas Cup and Far West Regionals in Hawaii before graduting and heading off to college.