Bays stifle Calif. team, 1-0, in national tournament

Maryland improves to 2-0 in under-14 championships


July 26, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

GERMANTOWN - You hear it time and time again from Maryland Bays under-14 boys coach Steve Nichols, how the team's success all starts with its unflappable defense.

Yesterday, up against its sternest test to date, it was at its unflappable best. That's how it had to be, from beginning to end.

The Bays successfully protected an early second-half goal by outside midfielder Brandon Fischer, holding off the Nomads of La Jolla, Calif., for a 1-0 win in a first-round match in the Snickers U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

The win put the Bays alone atop the bracket with a 2-0 mark and six points going into their last opening-round game at 5:30 p.m. today against the Chicago Magic. The top two teams emerging from the round-robin format will advance to Sunday's championship game.

Getting past the bigger boys from California was believed to be the toughest obstacle for the Bays, who have now gone 12-0 through state, region and two national games with a whopping 48 goals scored to just one allowed.

"That was a quality team and it shows you how good we are because we beat them," said Nichols. "They're dangerous, but I think we had the better of the play."

More importantly, they had the only goal, with Fischer finishing from 14 yards in front off a feed from forward Anthony Tijero.

"It was great. Anthony beat a guy on the right side and made a great pass over to me and I just pounded it past the goalie over his head," said Fischer.

Bays keeper Steve King (Archbishop Curley) passed his biggest test midway through the first half when he dived to his right to turn away a shot aimed for the lower corner by Nomads striker Eric Avila.

Support from central defender Justin Lichtfuss and flanks Matt Beckman and A.J. Delagarza was plentiful in a busy second half, with the Nomads pressing for the equalizer despite being down a player because of to a red card.

"It was real tough. Even when they lost their player, they kept coming from everywhere," said Lichtfuss. "We just kept some more guys back to make sure they didn't score on us and played great defense."

In under-14 girls play, the Bethesda Eclipse defeated the Atlanta Lightning, 3-0, and, in under-17 boys action, the Irvine (Calif,) Strikers beat the Bethesda Alliance, 2-1.

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