In the first match of the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup finals Friday, CASL Premier keeper Zach Daly and his back line dominated a Conquist America offense that had scored 26 goals in its previous five games.
On Sunday, there would be no stopping the California-based squad, no matter how hard the Triangle's Capital Area Soccer League team tried.
Instead, the Premier finished the Presidents Cup in fourth place overall after losing 8-0 to Conquist in the consolation match.
"Today here, the better team really won, there's no doubt," CASL coach Alix Charles said Sunday. "And we didn't have the energy or effort to keep up with them, so that's the way the score is the way it is.
"If it wasn't for my keeper and my defense the other day, it probably would have been the same way."
The taxing tournament schedule weighed on his squad, Charles said, and Conquist simply dealt with the heat and the multiple games better.
That was evident from the first minute. Conquist striker Efren Cordova scored the first goal of what would become a first-half hat trick, and the score was 4-0 by halftime.
Five Conquist players scored.
Charles used only three defenders instead of four Sunday, attempting to stall Conquist's strikers by using a wider midfield and more counterattack. He learned quickly that wouldn't work.
"That tells you how good a team they are, because right away, the opening, they start to attack us," he said. "We changed to 3-5-2, and it didn't pay off. But I don't think that would have mattered, whether it were a 4-4-2. ... We just couldn't keep up with them."
Conquist's strikers found holes in CASL's defense with ease, and almost all of the goals came in the run of play.
Most of them came just as the first did -- a low shot at a hard angle, able to just get past a diving defender or Daly.
"These guys are a skilled team," Charles said. "They played great soccer, the way the game should be played."
Charles and his players -- while disappointed with the result -- could take comfort in looking at the season as a whole, he said.
"A great bunch of boys, they get together so well on and off the field," Charles said after speaking with each player individually and presenting the fourth-place medals to the players and several parents. "And I think that's why we were able to achieve those results. It's been an excellent season.
"As I said earlier, we exceeded all of our goals, and being here, I think alone, is outstanding."