Tuesday, July 29
As a sportsperson and competitive athlete it is often hard to take a defeat, especially when the effort and emotion you have put in doesn’t meet your intended target. However, after 7 days of competition that is what we were asking the boys to do. One more push, a collective regroup, a last big effort for a team created no more than 10 weeks previous. Lets finish strong. The youngest member of tour party said it best, the young Ryan Donovan, assistant coach ball boy mascot crowd favorite and son to head coach Dave. ‘In the Olympics teams still want to play in the 3rd and 4th place playoff because they want to win the bronze medal.’ So simple yet so true, we had come so far pushed so hard that this was are chance to win big, to arrive home with a medal a trophy, this was our Olympics.
The mood in the locker room pre game echoed our thoughts, the players were ready and pumped to finish the job! A final act as the NJ ALLSTARS, against the hosts the High School Affiliated with Remnin University.
With the ALLSTARS taking the field for the final time it didn’t take long for their performance to show that they meant business, controlling the game from the first minute. Steven Bednarsky starting as the spearhead of a midfield three led the charge hustling every ball and looking to make things happen early, with Fabricant Bizub and Moylan following his lead pressing high giving the Chinese side little time on the ball. A slick bit of interplay on the left hand side led to the first goal with Moylan coming inside and Bednarsky breaking past the final defender drawing the keeper before unselfishly rolling the ball across the 6 for Moylan to stroke into the goal. Advantage NJ. The relentless pressure continued, with the ALLSTARS looking a completely different side than the team defeated a day previous. Our midfield maestro Bull then pulled out a strike right from coaching manual as he forward into the center of the park ball rolled just out infront, checks up head down and laces through the ball……I think the crossbar may still be shaking.
Goal number two shortly followed the first as if everything Bednarsky touched would turn to gold as he made a brilliant diagonal run to latch onto the end of a Zapata clip on the edge of the area. Bednarsky rose off the ground whilst turning his back away from goal to measure a perfectly weighted pass for the oncoming Fabricant who thrashed it into the bottom corner from outside the area. The same two players then combined again with Fabricant collecting the ball, laying it off to Bednarsky who in turn slid the ball neatly to Bizub inside the area for goal number 3. Remnin this time hit back with a goal as a bloodied number 7 was allowed too much time around the American box, with extremely quick feet he was able to elude ALLSTAR challenges and finish past Kahn. The hosts again pressed with Lowe and Golden standing firm on a number of occasions, Aunger and Zapata were equally a astute defensively to keep out the Chinese advances. In the center of the field Hadley Jr. and Bull were also being drawn deeper to help defensively making timely challenges to break up the play.
The ALLSTARS would walk into the half with a deserved three goal cushion as Bednarsky opened his account for the tournament with a much deserved goal. Zapata joining the attack, drove inside the right fullback onto a ball from Moylan, before sliding it across the face of the goal to be met by a cool finish from Bednarsky.
In the second half we saw a very measured and mature performance from a team that had really grown together throughout the competition. Cadena was brought on in the midfield and Thorsheim had been introduced just before the break. The Americans kept the ball superbly, dictating the tempo of the game from first to last minute. The Chinese side could not get neat the midfield trio of Cadena, Hadley Jr. and Bednarsky who seemed to have more space and time a the game progressed. Remnin had a 5 minute resurgence during which they gave the ALLSTARS a number of scares and may have conceded again if it hadn’t been for goalkeeper Kaminer, who made a number of top class saves from close range and distance. NJ themselves could have added to the total with Bell having a number of chances before Panizza sealed the rout with the ALLSTARS 5th of the game and his 5th of the tournament.
Final Score: New Jersey ALLSTARS 5 v The High School Affiliated to Remnin University 1
An emphatic win to finish, however it was more the manner of victory that summed up what the NJ ALLSTARS have been all about this tour. Professionalism, representation and demonstrating how the beautiful game of Soccer can be played. They have been a credit to themselves and to all of you reading this blog.
Being the first American side to grace the Beijing Cup brought a great expectation even if they didn’t feel it. There have been eyes on them from the moment they landed which will continue until they leave tomorrow, including an almost 24hour following of camera phones and TV Cameras from Beijing TV. The coverage of their participation has boosted the tournaments profile through Beijing and the rest of China. Myself and Dave have had the pleasure of sitting down with members of the tournament committee on a number of occasions, from which its clear to see the young New Jersey boys have made a positive impact.
NJ ALLSTARS Record: 4 Wins 2 Losses 0 Tie Goals: 17 Scored 5 Conceded. Beijing Cup 2014 3rd Place
The Korean High School Football League won the tournament with a 5-1 victory over the Jakarta Select. Following the game the Korean side stated they felt spurred on by the defeat to the Americans in the final game of Group A.
With field proceeding concluded the boys head back to their dorm to tidy and pack before socializing and saying goodbye to their new international friends.