ECNL BOYS NATIONAL FINALS DAY 1: BREATHE CAROLINA
Yuval Ranon knows his role.
Sitting at the top of the NCFC Youth formation, Ranon scores goals. And he’s good at it.
During the regular season, Ranon found the back of the net more than 30 times. At the ECNL Boys National Playoffs, he potted six as he led his team to St. Louis for the ECNL Boys National Finals. And in NCFC Youth’s first game of the Finals, he netted two as his squad moved on to the semifinals with a 4-1 win against Lonestar SC South.
“It felt great to get the win today,” Ranon said. “The team played well. We held the lead and played 100 percent the whole game. Very happy with the result and now we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ranon’s first goal came in the 11th minute, playing a style of play Head Coach Dewan Bader calls “poaching.” The Lonestar SC goalkeeper made a save and rolled a ball to his defender on the left side. Ranon jumped the defender, stealing the ball away and knocking it into the empty net to take a 1-0 lead.
With neither side scoring again in the first half, NCFC came out of halftime and with fresh legs, immediately applied pressure to the Lonestar SC back line. Just four minutes into the half, NCFC Youth’s pressure drew a penalty, and Max Kiefer stepped up to the spot and buried his shot into the bottom left corner to take a 2-0 lead.
In the 63rd minute, Ranon capitalized again, giving him his second of the game and taking a commanding 3-0 lead. Ranon slipped through the Lonestar SC defense on a beautiful throughball and racing in on the goalkeeper alone, he poked the ball past the charging keeper and into the net.
“Yuval, he’s a goal scorer; he’s a poacher,” Bader said. “Yuval is always ready to play and ready to jump on opportunities. Hopefully he can continue that the rest of the weekend.”
Two minutes later, Lonestar SC responded to bring the game to 3-1, breathing life into a comeback attempt. The team continued to push forward, looking to cut into the lead more, but the NCFC defense continued to stand tall.
As the half wound down, NCFC Youth continued to maintain possession and in the 80th minute, Hector Rodriguez ripped a beautiful strike into the top right corner to solidify the team’s 4-1 victory.
“We came here with a specific goal in mind and this is our first step toward it,” Bader said. “I’m very proud of the boys. That was a very good Lonestar team, they made it difficult for us. We know every team here is good and every game’s going to be a competitive match. We’re looking forward to moving on and playing tomorrow.”
With the win, NCFC Youth becomes one of three Carolina teams to advance to the semifinals (other: Charlotte SA and CESA). NCFC Youth will battle CESA in the semifinal, guaranteeing at least one Carolina squad will make it to the national championship match.
To view ECNL Boys National Finals scores, schedules and more, click here.