Another year, another successful season ending run culminating in a National Championship for the 92 JSC Jammers Gold. On Tuesday afternoon in Virginia Beach the 92 Gold capped off an unbeaten four day performance to claim the 2009 US Club U16 Boys Premier National Championship with a 2-0 victory over Blackwatch (N.Y.).
It’s the second year in a row the 92s have claimed a National title, winning the 2008 USYS National Director’s Cup - the club’s first National Crown - in the U15 age group a season ago.
This time the opponents and venue were different, but the story line was similar as JSC’s Justin Jones headed home what would turn out to be the game winning goal just 13 minutes into the match off a cross from Pierce Verchick to give the Jammers a 1-0 lead. A season ago Jones scored the championship match’s only goal around the same time in the second half.
JSC would double their lead, and effectively clinch the club’s second title, at the 58 minute mark when Verchick found Matt Shuster for a one time effort that was deflected by the Blackwatch keeper off the post where Marquez Cassidy was waiting to knock home the rebound. From there it was a matter of counting down the minutes until the celebration started.
"It’s been another great year and I’m very proud of the players," said head coach John Watson. "We came up to this event somewhat shorthanded and battled through to take home a second [national title]. The boys should be very proud of their effort and results. They’ve earned it."
The match with Blackwatch was actually the second time the teams had met at the event - the first being the opening round robin game in which Jones and Verchick reversed roles as finisher and crosser to give the Jammers a 1-0 victory.
The second match gave the Jammers a chance at redemption - facing the Pennsylvania North Stars, a team who had earned a 1-0 victory over JSC in the Regionals. Once again poor marking on a dead ball situation bit the Jammers as the North Stars took an early one goal lead and held it into the final minute before the Jammer attack allowed Andrew Daniel to volley a bouncing ball inside the penalty area into the net with 15 seconds remaining to leave the game 1-1.
With four points after two games, the Jammers could assure themselves a place in the national final with a draw against Coral Springs (Fla) in the final round-robin match. JSC got on the board two minutes into the game when Jason Hill’s 30 yard free kick rocketed into the top corner.
"That was one of the better free kicks I’ve seen at this age. Jason is a high level player who instantly makes our attack dynamic because of his vision and knack for distributing the ball, and, of course, his ability to finish."
After the Floridians earned an equalizer, the Jammers added goals from Verchick and Joey Fiorello to make it 3-1. A late goal from Coral Springs wouldn’t matter as JSC took top of the table placement with a 3-2 victory to finish group play with seven points and a 2-0-1 record. Blackwatch earned a spot in the final by defeating North Stars 1-0 to enter the final with a 2-1 record in group play.
"Our defensive effort was terrific over the entire event starting with our goalkeeper and back four. With the level of play from that group this weekend, we truly felt that once we got a lead we were in a good position no matter what kind of pressure our opponents brought. It’s a great building block for our team and allows us to always feel like we have a chance to win."
With their U16 season now complete, the Jammers will head to the U17 Division of the Disney Soccer Showcase Qualifiers over Labor Day weekend in Orlando before the players shift their focus solely to high school soccer until November.
The 92 Jammers Gold in attendance for this weekend’s event: Stephen Moffitt, Justin Jones, Matt Shuster, Colin Taylor, Evan Mobley, Stephen McDaniel, Bart Toe, Andrew Daniel, Pierce Verhchick, Jimmy Miller, Joey Fiorello, Nathan Hayes, Jason Hill, Parker Lee, Clayton Boozer, Nathaniel Buffong, and Marquez Cassidy.