Ceja, F.L.I. Properties Rally For Overtime Win In U-12 Finals
All night long their backs were against the wall.
They were given every opportunity to quit, but every time the answer was “no.” F.L.I. Properties came back from not one, but two deficits to eventually lock down the team title in the Troup County U-12 Soccer Tournament. Coach Keith Butler’s “never say die” team from F.L.I. Properties polished off the CB& T Sharks, 3-2 in overtime for the tournament championship on Thursday night at the Chris Joseph Sportsplex.
It almost felt as though F.L.I. Properties had played two games on this evening on a somewhat soggy soccer pitch in LaGrange. But the players from the championship team didn’t seem to mind. They were willing to play as long as they had to in order to win the soccer title.
“We played aggressive. We worked together, and we beat a real good team,” said F.L.I. Properties midfielder Karsten Butler. “We got better as the season went along.”
In this championship game, F.L.I. Properties had to dig deep. The team rallied from deficits of 1-0 in the first half and 2-1 in the middle of the second half. And twice F.L.I. Properties got off the wet deck at the soccer complex. Butler and F.L.I. Properties were pushed to the absolute limit.
Their stamina and skill level were checked at the front door by a Sharks team that still isn’t sure they aren’t the best squad in the U-12 League. Just two minutes into the game, the Sharks took a 1-0 lead on a Nelson Hererra goal. They call him “Junior.”
The next goal was not scored until the early portions of the second half on a booming 30-yard shot from F.L.I. Properties left wing Christian Ceja. The game was tied, 1-1, but that was brief. Micah Prophett then answered with a goal for the Sharks in the middle of the second half. The Sharks looked like they were going to win the league championship, thanks to a 2-1 lead.
But Ceja would come back for more. He knocked home a winding 25-yard shot to tie the game, 2-2 late in the second half.
“We did have some good passing (in the match),” said Ceja.
The game stayed deadlocked until Ceja supplied the winning goal in overtime on a 10-yard point-blank shot in the middle of the 5minute overtime. F.L.I. Properties had a 3-2 advantage and a soon to be U-12 Tournament championship.
“We got angry, and we channeled our anger (in the second half and overtime),” said F.L.I. Properties defender Henry Huberdeau.
He and his buddies allowed the Sharks no more goals. The soccer title went to F.L.I. Properties, which only led once in the game, and that was in overtime. It was just that close.
“My players had the desire. They trusted each other. It’s hard to win a championship, but we held our positions,” said Keith Butler, the head coach of the 8-3-1 F.L.I. Properties team.
The league title winners finished the season on an 8game winning streak. The CB& T Sharks ended the season playing some top tier soccer, too. The Sharks closed out the season with a glossy record of 10-2.
“We played good, but this game was exhausting. We felt some pressure, and we got tired,” said Hererra.
Sharks Head Coach Felisia Santiago gave her team a mental “high five” after the game.
“We showed some awareness and a lot of effort. This was a great match. I just wish we had more time. We played as good as we could,” said Santiago.
And as Herrera said in hindsight, “I had some friends on the other team, but during the match they were not my friends.”
That’s how a championship game is supposed to be approached. It’s winner take all.