The IMG Academy soccer program U-14 boys have completed a two-month competition culminating with the President's Cup in Auburndale, Florida, where they were crowned Florida state champions!
With the win, IMG has the opportunity to travel to Oklahoma in early June to take on the other states representatives in Region III.
The competition opened in Fort Myers, Florida on February 27th, where IMG took on Island Coast United. A hard-fought match, IMG had to settle for a 1-1 draw from a Stephen Ravazzoli penalty. The afternoon match tilted IMG vs. Oldsmar. IMG took control early and never looked back, winning the match 5-1, with Paul Sime adding a goal and Alejandro Zamudio adding two, but it was Mauricio Nieto who had the match of the day. The third match of the weekend was a 4-0 victory for IMG against Florida Soccer Club, with Mauricio Nieto and Sam Kuznicki both on the scorer's sheet.
IMG advanced to compete in the Region C semi-finals in Auburndale, Florida on March 20th against RSL Florida. Win would give IMG a place in the Region C Final the following day. An excellent performance by IMG throughout the match led to a 3-0 IMG victory, with Michel Zarur and Sam Kuznicki both scoring. Island Coast was the victor in the other semi-final match, creating a rematch of the 1-1 tie earlier on in the competition. IMG proved too much for Island Coast this time, winning the match 2-0 and taking the Region C Cup championship and a place in the President's Cup!
Excellent play of the back four of Logan Moriarty, Brandon Ordonez, Miguel Trillo and Craig Foley and goalkeeper Juan Carreon proved to be up for the challenge and, impressively, conceded just two goals in the entire Region C Cup competition.
IMG trained hard in the two-week period between Region C and President's Cup and entered the competition confident and determined to do what no other IMG team has done before: Win the President's Cup championship. IMG traveled to Auburndale, FL and opened the competition against TUFC from Tallahassee, Florida. A hard fought match, IMG took the lead on a Paul Sime diving header off a nice feed from Mohan (Sam) Kuznicki. IMG continued the high attacking pressure, with good performances from Mohan Kuznicki, Stephen Ravazzoli, and Jake Dube. TUFC tied the match midway through the second half, and took the match into overtime tied at 1-1. Improved play from Joshua Ruckdeschel and big attacking contributions from Logan Moriarty proved to be too much for IMG's opponents, as Ruckdeschel scored just two minutes into the overtime period off of a 25 yard blast, beating the goalkeeper to the far post. Sustained attacking pressure, through disciplined movement, high speed of play, and excellent defensive work put IMG in position to take the match and advance to the President's Cup final.
Early Sunday morning, IMG took the field against West Pines United determined to realize their goal of winning the President's Cup. Battling through injuries and sickness, IMG proved their toughness and determination, putting together one of the best performances of the year to win the title 4-0. Excellent play from Stephen Ravazzoli, Michel Zarur, Paul Sime and Jake Dube were the main catalyst in attack for IMG, while Nick Pennebacker, Miguel Trillo and Craig Foley were constant ball winners on the defensive side of the ball. Juan Carreon was up to the challenge, making a big save early on for IMG to keep the score at 0-0. Paul Sime continued his strong form, scoring off a nicely delivered pass from Michel Zarur, heading IMG into a 1-0 lead. Michel Zarur drew a penalty early in the second half and set up Stephen Ravazzoli to give IMG a 2-0 advantage. A beautiful goal from Jake Dube was both a relief for the goal scorer and IMG, as they looked to just manage their three goal advantage for the remainder of the match. Jake Dube's goal was assisted by Mohan (Sam) Kuznicki, who's crossing ability has proved to be quite an asset to the IMG 14s. Michel Zarur added an assurance goal late in the match, giving IMG a well-fought and deserved 4-0 victory. Ethan Lamb, despite fighting an injury, did well to contribute in the attack in the second half..
IMG accepted the President's Cup trophy for the first time and with a proud sense of accomplishment. With this challenge behind them, IMG turns its attention to Oklahoma for the Region III President's Cup competition in early June.
Coach Nolan Sheldon is an alum of the IMG Academy soccer program and a former collegiate soccer player at Duquesne and Wingate. He's in his third year as a coach at the Academy.