NBC Bay Area TV Coverage
July 13, 2015 - The Santa Clara Sporting 00 Boys Green Team won the 2015 National Premier League Championship in Grand Park, Indiana on July 13th. Santa Clara defeated the Real Colorado Athletico Team in a thrilling 1-0 game in the Under 14 Boys Age Group. The championship game started off like every other soccer game when Santa Clara took a 1-0 lead after they convereted a corner kick in the 13th minute of the match. Both teams battled back-and-forth until the skies darkened and sirens wailed at the Indiana soccer park. The sirens sounded-off because a tornado was bearing down on the soccer fields; officials had to suspend the game and both teams left the soccer complex for cover. Torential rain and lightning forced the teams to take shelter and the fate of the national championship title was at risk.
The team had to wait-out the storm for 2.5 hours until officials finally called the teams back to the field after the storm had passed. How would the team restart the match and could they recapture the momentum of the game? Coach John Azevedo told the boys to stay focused and protect their goal while playing-out the final 10 minutes of the first half.
At half-time the team refocused their energy and knew that Real Colorado would come-out in the second-half with every ounce of energy trying to find a goal to equalize the game. Both teams came-out fighting in the second half and Real Colorado sent their very tall forward into the Sporting goal box on a set play. The Colorado free kick hit the arm of one of their players before it landed on the foot of their large striker who fell in the Santa Clara goal box. The official reacted to the downed Colorado player and quickly pointed to the penalty spot giving them a penalty kick against Santa Clara. Tempers flew and when a Sporting forward got into an argument with the center referee over the missed handball, the official sent-off the Santa Clara player and now the team was down to 10 players. Coach Azevedo was screaming about the missed handball and the 4th official finally stopped the game, informed the center ref about the handball situation and the penalty kick was cancelled. The game was restarted with 10 minutes left in regulation play but Sporting had to play one man down after the red card incident. The boys hung-on to win the game and the NPL National Championship.
The Sporting 00B Green Team won three games and tied one to win their bracket and Semi-final match prior to the National Championship game. The team earned the right to play in the NPL League Championships by winning the NorCal Premier National League which started last August 2014. The team went undefeated in the Fall Premier League winning all 10 league games, then they went 9-1 in the Spring Season to rack-up an impressive 19-1 season.
The Santa Clara Sporting 00 Boys Green Team victory was impressive on many fronts. They had to overcome extereme difficulties during their National Championship match, but they also fought back during the past 16 months when players were poached from other soccer academy teams. The team roster shrank to just 10 players but the boys stuck it out, regrouped and rebuilt the team. Getting to Indiana to compete was no easy feat due to the high cost of travel and lodging. Thanks go out to the NorCal Premier League, Santa Clara Sporting and the Mosaic Agency for helping supporting the team with financial support to get the team to Indiana.