It’s part of a pirate’s natural disposition to claim what he feels to be rightfully his and so did the Corinth Holders boys soccer team Wednesday night as the Pirates defeated Clayton 2-0 to snatch back the JUSA Cup championship trophy.
It took something special for Clayton to best Corinth Holders last year, winning in dramatic fashion on a golden goal in overtime.
It only took 10 minutes for the Pirates’ Miguel Ibarra to deliver something special and set the tone for the night on a scorcher of a shot from 40 yards out that found its destination in the upper 90 at the far post.
“First I saw the goalkeeper in front of line so I was like, ‘let me take a shot,’ ” Ibarra, the tournament’s offensive MVP said of the left-footed blast. “It was worth it.”
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The goal came as a result of the Corinth Holders’ midfield winning a 50-50 ball and pinning the Comets in on their side of the field, something the Pirates did for much of the contest.
Seniors Jacob Meierer, Dillon Parker and Ryan McDaniel controlled the middle of the field for the Pirates and dominated possession, forcing the Comets to abandon the notion of stringing together passes to build the attack and instead play a more direct style with balls over the top.
“Tonight, their three seniors in the midfield destroyed any combination that we had and that’s no slight to our guys, they were just that good, that much better than us,” Clayton coach John Asmussen said. “They dominated the midfield and that’s where we lost it right there.”
The second goal for Corinth Holders (2-0) came from the same midfield presence as Meierer collected a ball 25 yards straight out from goal and deposited it into the lower corner for the 2-0 lead that would hold the rest of the game.
In the first half, the Pirates mustered seven attempts on goal while Clayton (1-1) was held without a shot.
While the Comets’ freshman goalkeeper, Thomas Ziegler, turned in an impressive performance throughout the game, totaling seven saves, the Pirates’ Ryan Mills won defensive MVP of the tournament thanks to a pair of crucial stops in the second half.
Caleb Rodgers first troubled Mills in the game’s 47th minute with a curling shot which Mills managed to deflect off of the crossbar and away from trouble.
Mills once again prevented Clayton from getting on the board when the Comets’ Hunter Bramley fired a shot only to have the sophomore goalkeeper once again get a glove on the ball which then glanced off the crossbar and out of play.
The Pirates’ second JUSA Cup title in three years was made especially sweet by avenging the tough loss from a year ago.
“They beat us last year on our home field which was heartbreaking, but we got to do it this year,” Parker said. “The JUSA Cup means everything to me — my senior year and now having two gold medals in my high school career, it means everything.”
As for Clayton, the learning process continues for a team that is still forming its identity.
“I feel really good about the future,” Asmussen said. “We’ve just got to figure out different combinations right now. In the middle third of the field and in the attacking third of the field, we really need to find some answers.”
2016 JUSA Cup Results
Monday, Aug. 15: Game 1 — West Johnston 4, Smithfield-Selma 2; Game 2 — Cleveland 5, South Johnston 1
Tuesday, Aug. 16 (Semifinals): Game 3 — Corinth Holders 3, West Johnston 3 (Corinth Holders advances on PKs); Game 4 —Clayton 1, Cleveland 0
Wednesday, Aug. 17: Game 5, Consolation Match — Smithfield-Selma 4, South Johnston 2; Game 6, Championship — Corinth Holders 2, Clayton 0