In a remarkable, under-19 boys semifinal match that had overtime goals scored by both clubs and finally was decided in the 11th round of a penalty kick tie-breaker, San Francisco United defeated the Bethesda Alliance, 3-2, last night in the U.S. National Youth Soccer Championships at Woodbridge High School.
Meanwhile, the Springfield Spirit moved a step closer to its second national title in three years with a 3-0 victory over Blackburn (Ga.) United in a girls under-19 semifinal yesterday morning.
So after nine seasons and 299 victories, the Spirit will play its final game Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Fairfield (Ohio) Raiders in the Athena Cup. The Raiders edged Pleasanton, Calif., 2-1.
San Francisco United will play in the McGuire Cup Sunday at 4 against the Minnesota Blackhawks, who beat the Chapel Hill-Durham (N.C.) Strikers last night, 4-1.
The under-16 consolations and finals will be held today starting at 9 a.m.
The three-hour boys semifinal, witnessed by 5,030 spectators, was marred by United's 57 fouls, compared with the Alliance's 15. Each side was issued three yellow cards.
Finally, it was decided in the 11th round of penalty kicks after each club had converted nine of its previous 10 kicks. Bethesda goalie Neill Rowland's attempt rolled wide of the left post and United's Jose Ramos beat the Alliance's other keeper, Chad Gilliken, with a low shot.
Erik Imler, Tim Kunihiro and Craig Brannan are no strangers to marathon matches: All were in University of Virginia uniforms when last December's NCAA Division I championship with Santa Clara was declared a 1-1 tie after 60 minutes of overtime.
United's Joshua McKay and Kunihiro scored in regulation and Dewan Bedar put the Alliance ahead with a six-yard shot in the eighth minute of overtime. However, McKay responded in the 104th minute with his second goal on a nice run and perfect 16-yard shot.
The Spirit, 1988 under-16 national champions, was in control from the start and outshot the Georgians, 24-6.
Kristyn Woodside's goal ave the Spirit the lead in the 37th minute on an eight-yard shot. She collected a pass from Kerry Page inside the penalty area, avoided defender Caroline Coberth and calmly went high to the left side of the net.
In the 54th minute, defender Sue Saunders snuck into the penalty area and was in perfect position to head Erin Riddle's corner kick through a crowd and inside the right post.
Eight minutes later, second-half substitute Miriam Fagan knocked a bouncing ball from 15 yards into the far left corner of the net.
"They came out here to play," Blackburn goalkeeper Vera Delcher said. "They introduced us to Virginia soccer."