Monday, May 18, 2009

Street Soccer Stars in Charlotte put together impressive season, fall short in semifinals of local league play

Our team of Street Soccer 945 program graduates, the "Street Soccer Stars" we call them, had an amazing season in the newly formed Revolution Athletics Soccer League in Charlotte. This group is great because they serve as inspiration for our players on the 945 Team and also because I, most of time, can pick up spectators at the Urban Ministry Center and then meet the team at the game. Elmer, Dave and Michael and Tim drive themselves to the game in their own cars. Wow, they have come so far!

We started out the season 0-3. The team then rebounded and won 7 games in row. We entered the playoffs as the #6 seed and faced off against the #3 seed Wings Select. Craig Holley, star of the Sundance documentary Kicking It, played his best game of the season at marking back. Craig had the job of marking our opponent's best forward, a strong and physical player with a cannon shot on both legs and a spin move that had weakened the legs of many defenders. Craig held him up and did not stab in, only when the opponent turned and showed Craig the ball did he step in and make a tackle. Time and time again Craig held him up, won the ball and released it to our triumvirate of attackers who on this night looked like Brazilians passing back and fourth, slotting in easy goals. This seemed a little too easy so Mike McGregor, Homeless World Cup 2007 team member, bicycled in our 5th goal and we were able to hold of a late surge by the Wings and advance to the semifinals by a score of 7-3.

The semifinals took place just 30 minutes after our quarterfinal victory and we started the game on our heels taking shot after shot which Craig, volunteer Curtis Gardner and Keeper Tim Cummins (HWC '08) were able to deflect. We were able to keep them out of the net while we re-organized and got into our game. This was a beautiful game. Both teams fought hard and played fair. The score was 1-1 with five minutes left. Elmer Nunez (Homeless World Cup 07) confronted an attacking player in the middle of the field and what sounded like an explosion was a ball-to-foot contact in which Elmer won the ball for a one on zero breakaway with the keeper. On this bouncy, dirt patched field, Elmer could not collect the ball where he wanted it and sprayed a shot wide of the goal. We were in shock. The next possession in what appeared to be another defensive stand for us quickly turned into a moment of chaos as the ball was turned back over and a free man at the back post put it past Tim in the only spot open...the roof of the net. We did not go down without a fight. Dave McGregor, HWC 2006, slipped through defenders and found himself a small opening in which he took a toe-poke shot that clanged the post and went out. We took our final push and earned a corner. The ball was played low and hard into the penalty area and bodies banged together and a deflection shot pinged right for the goal but only the keeper blocked it and fell on it. He was on top of the line and we appealed for a goal but it was not in. Our winning streak was over. The excitement now is that we are consistently going toe-to-toe with some of Charlotte's best amateur players. Pictured here is part of the team. Front row, SS-945 Team support Ebony, Coach Rob, Nori. Second Row Michael McGregor, Miguel, Elvis, Dave McGregor, volunteer Curtis. Not pictured Elmer Nunez, Craig Holley and Tim Cummins. The Stars will start vying for that first elusive title again next week when the league re-starts. Street Soccer 945, the team that will represent Charlotte at the Street Soccer USA Cup this summer, will start league play this Wednesday, May 20th. Please check back for complete game schedules. Thanks for your support.

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