An "emotionally sky high, but physically drained" Maryland Alliance Team faces Russia's Dynamo Minsk, a formidable semi-pro squad, as thequarterfinals of the Holland Cup soccer tournament get under way today in Amsterdam.
The Alliance, an under-19 team of high school players from the county, advanced behind yesterday's two-goal, one-assist performance by forward Justin Dunbar (St. Mary's).
Dunbar sparked the locals (3-0-1, seven points), who narrowly escaped with a victory over Team Denmark, 2-1, and a 1-1 tie against theNorwegian under-19 national team to win their five-team grouping over Norway (2-0-2, six points), Team France (2-2, four), Denmark (1-2-1, three) and Team USA/Boston (0-4, zero).
"The tournament officials are still checking their records, but they believe that this is thefirst time that an American team has made it this far in the tournament for this age group," said Gali Sanchez, whose younger brother, Alliance head coach Wayne, is phoning home the tournament details.
"What's amazing is that none of the players on the Alliance team is over 17 years old. They're really earning a lot of compliments and tremendous support over there."
After battling Norway to a 1-1 tie in the first game yesterday, the Alliance fell behind for the first timein the tournament, 1-0, seven minutes into the contest against Denmark.
But as Pat Mohr (Archbishop Spalding) attacked the opposing goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation, he was fouled by the keeper, setting up Dunbar's game-tying goal off a penalty kick with four minutes left in the first half.
As the second half began, the Alliance squad got news of Norway's victory over France, which put the Americans in a must-win situation. The pressure increased when, with 15 minutesleft in the contest, an Alliance player was ejected, forcing the locals to play one man short for the remainder of the game.
Five minutes later, Ryan Voegltin (Severna Park) collected the rebound of Dunbar's 25-yard shot -- which had caromed off the chest of the opposing keeper -- and buried a low shot home for the 2-1 victory.
Against Norway, Craig Dorsey crossed the ball to Dunbar for the Alliance's only tally 38 seconds into the game for the lone goal. But Norway tied the game two minutes later and hammered Alliance goalie J.D. Gattie (St. Mary's) and his defense for the remainder of the game.
"Norwayhad a number of opportunities and applied tremendous pressure, but J.D. just had a tremendous game in the goal," said Gali. "But Wayne made some defensive adjustments in the second half, and the teams then played evenly."
Before yesterday's games, the Alliance had recorded three shutouts and outscored its opponents, 16-0, including an 11-0victory in a preliminary game against Maastrich's K.V.C. Oranje Monday.
Scorers for the Alliance have been Dunbar (four goals), Mohr (three goals) and, with two goals each, Voegltin, St. Mary's Steve Marsella, Spalding's Tom Reilly and Mount St. Joseph's Brian Lawson. TheAlliance expects its toughest challenge against the Soviets, deemed the tournament's best team.
"They're the feeder team for the Soviet Union's professional team, and, from what I understand, they've been running up the scores against their opponents," said Gali Sanchez.