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IMG Academy soccer program has winning weekend

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The U.S. Soccer Development Academy League is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an every day environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players. The IMG Academy soccer program U-18 boys' team finished 3rd in the nation in 2009.

U 18 Academy League

IMG 3, Atlanta Fire 2

The U-18 team started off the New Year with a strong win. By defeating the Atlanta Fire, IMG stays in the hunt for first place in the division and playoff hopes while raising the conference record to 6-2-1 and improving the overall record to 11-4-2.

Martin Ontiveros scored to give IMG the lead over Atlanta just 3 seconds into the match in what was surely the fastest goal in league history. Ontiveros' 60-yarder caught the Fire Goalkeeper off his line and unaware of the opening kickoff. After seeing the opponent positioned beyond the penalty spot, Martin quickly planed, measured and executed to score one of the best goals of the season.

Just 20 minutes later Brett Jankouskas finished off a quick counter after being played through from Andres Acevedo to give IMG a comfortable lead. The Fire reacted well and the lack of game form and fitness along with cold and windy conditions and a poor playing surface took its tool. The game was tied at 2 before the half as IMG lost its way, failing to develop a rhythm of play while lapsing on defense.

Ontiveros put the game away early in the second half with another quality finish low and angled to the far post after some good build up play brought him into the penalty box. Eki Ofili and Jankouskas combined for an early goal that was called back for offside. Ontiveros and Ofili both came close again, as each hit the post. Ofili found the net himself with a snap header from 6 yards out, but the goal was disallowed for a "foul" away from the ball.

The second half was very physical and looked likely to boil over several times, but the boys kept their heads and came away with all 3 points. Unfortunately, Acevedo was shown a red card late in the game and will miss our next match.

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U-16 Academy League

IMG 2, Atlanta Fire 0

The U-16 Academy Team traveled to play Atlanta Fire to kick off the second half of the season. We had 3 weeks of preparation before the game and really started to come together the week before we left. That was encouraging because despite the long lay-off, it felt like our team was primed and ready to play.

Unfortunately, the field conditions were not to our advantage but we were going to try and maintain possession, building from the back. We succeeded in possessing the ball and played some really good combinations. We were unlucky not converting some chances, with the best chance from Gabriel Nunez having a shot that hit the crossbar.

We finally broke through with a goal from Stephen McNeil at the 18th minute with an assist from Michael Allizzo. They both were creating chances and worked very well together throughout the game, causing all sorts of problems for the Fire defenders. We had challenged them to work more like a partnership, share the workload, and develop an understanding to be more effective and the goals will come for both of them.

With the first half coming to an end, we had a corner kick at the 39th minute. Cameron Baskett and Jordan Gruber take the corners and the cross took a deflection, leading an Atlanta defender to put it in for an own goal and make it 2-0 at halftime.

Not much changed in the 2nd half. We played the ball quickly, created chances and maintained good balance to not concede a goal to let the Fire back into the game. Xavier Guerrette held the defense together and had a great overall performance. I changed Baskett to holding midfield this game, and he was the best player on the field. He controlled and organized the team quite well and was outstanding in his defensive responsibilities.

Chris Glodack managed the game really well and had 4 quality saves that could have really turned the tide and given the Fire momentum if they scored. Carter Dorton was extremely dangerous going forward in this game , which was great to see, and created quality chances for us and had a great game. Overall, a well deserved victory and a great start to the 2nd half of the season.U 14 Boys

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U-14 boys

IMG 2, FC Sarasota 1

On Saturday, IMG hosted the current first place team in Club Directors League, FC Sarasota, which had yet to lose a game. During pregame, you could tell IMG was focused on the task at hand and was ready for the challenge.

The first half saw both teams feeling each other out and not having a lot of scoring opportunities. But at the end of the first half, IMG applied pressure to FC Sarasota's back line causing a turnover. Miche won the ball and played a great give and go with Alejandro, then played the ball to Paul Sime. From there, Paul did the rest on his own beating two FC Sarasota defenders in the box and finishing to the far post...a fantastic goal!

In the 2nd half the game opened up a bit. Keeper Juan Carreon came up huge 10 minutes into the 2nd half saving a flurry of shots, starting with a header off of a cross and then two volleys. FC Sarasota kept up the pressure and finally converted in the 22nd minute when IMG had a slow transition into defending and a through ball was converted. With the score now 1-1, IMG stepped up their intensity and got a free kick with 5 minutes just outside the FC Sarasota box. Miche stepped up to take the shot and drilled it to the far upper 90...a great strike that put IMG up 2-1 for good and solidified a well deserved win.

IMG 2, Strictly 2

IMG's second match of the weekend was an improved performance for IMG since the first time these two teams met, but the result was very similar with both teams coming away with one point. IMG relied on fresh legs to give the team the necessary intensity with Mauricio Nieto, Ethan Lamb and Sam Kuznicki all new starters from Saturday's match. IMG controlled the play throughout the match, scoring the first goal. Paul Sime found space in behind the Strictly defense and finished nicely across the goal keeper to give IMG a 1-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes. IMG was able to maintain the attacking pressure, with Michel Zarur almost adding to the IMG lead after his 25 yard shot beat the keeper but was denied by the post. A penalty awarded by the referee's assistant gave Strictly their opportunity to tie, converting minutes before half-time. The second half was similar to the first half with IMG dictating play. Strong defensive balance from Nick Pennebacker, Logan Moriarty, Miguel Trillo and Craig Foley kept the Strictly attacking threats at bay and the IMG midfielders, Stephen Ravazzoli, Alejandro Zamudio and Michel Zarur in possession. IMG was awarded a penalty kick 23 minutes into the half as Michel Zarur was taken down in the opponent's goal area. Stephen Ravazzoli finished on his first attempt but was forced to retake by the referee. His second attempt hit just below the crossbar, deflected off the goalkeeper and Ravazzoli used the necessary composure to finish nicely with his head. The referee called the goal off, citing the ball never made contact with the goal keeper, thus making Ravazzoli ineligible to finish the rebound. Strictly were awarded a goal kick and play continued. With seven minutes remaining, Strictly took advantage of their good fortunes scoring the go-ahead goal on a missed offside call from the assistant referee. IMG responded well, scoring only minutes later with Paul Sime again doing the honors as Sam Kuznicki provided the assist. Although IMG deserved all three points on the day, it had to settle for just the one point in a 2-2 tie.

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