Two local clubs reach national soccer finals

Playing in 100-plus degree heat in Frisco, Texas, for the regional championships seemed to be the worst weather conditions the Triangle's club teams would face in their postseason run.

That is, until they woke up Friday morning to a torrential downpour in Lancaster, Mass., at the U.S. Youth Soccer Association National Championship Series.

"It was pouring down rain, like sideways rain, too," said midfielder McAmos Paye, who plays for Triangle United Gold.

Paye's U-17 boys squad, as well as the U-14 CASL Spartans Elite Black girls, were able to play through the rain and manage wins to send them to the national title games for their age groups.

Two other North Carolina teams were not so fortunate, with CASL Elite's U-14 boys squad and Charlotte's SCSA 93 Gold bowing out with losses Friday.

The Triangle United Gold boys thought they should have been in the national title game last year.

This year they weren't going to let anything stop them and compiled their age bracket's best record in the group stage.

Triangle United earned a 1-0 win against Javanon 92 on Friday, advancing it to a matchup with California-based CZ Elite.

"The only thing we're thinking about is getting to the finals and winning a national championship," said Paye, who scored the winning goal Friday.

"Every night before we go to bed, we sit there and the whole team's talking about how much we want the championship."

Friday's match was scoreless at halftime, but Paye said the Kentucky team was outplaying United. So coach Elmar Bolowich sent Paye, also a standout at East Wake, forward to play as a striker after intermission.

The move paid off, and Paye sent a strike into the back of the net in the 70th minute. After a teammate sent a long ball into the box, Paye found himself in a footrace with the Javanon defenders.

"I was just running as fast I could, and I ran between two of them," Paye said. "The ball was just sitting there, bouncing around, and I beat the keeper and chipped it in."

CZ Elite is the only team to outscore United this week, scoring eight goals to United's six. But both teams have 2-0-1 records.

United takes on CZ Elite at 8 a.m. Sunday for the boys' U-17 title.

CASL's 94 Spartans Elite Black faces a rematch in its 4 p.m. title match today, after coming away with a 1-0 win against Eclipse Select on Friday.

The Spartans played the California-based Mustang Blast to a 0-0 draw in the first match for both teams, and co-captain Joanna Boyles thinks that will work to her squad's advantage.

"I think we do [know how to play them better], because we know their players and how they work around our defenders," she said. "We know now how to stop it, instead of just working around it on the field."

In Friday's match, CASL outshot the Illinois-based Eclipse 10-5 and got a goal in the 58th minute from Morgan Reid.

After dominating the first half -- with the wind to their backs -- the Spartans couldn't finish on any of their opportunities. So when the wind died down in the second half, coach Damon Nahas knew his team had to deliver.

"The wind was better, the rain held up a little bit more, and we were really able to control the game," he said. "And it was a great goal from Morgan Reid to the far post."

CASL finished group play with a 2-0-1 record, and Mustang Blast has a 1-0-2 record.

CASL Elite's U-14 boys needed a win and some help Friday to make it to the finals, and when the morning's games were over, they didn't get either.

CASL Elite fell 2-0 to Dix Hills Thunder (N.Y.), dropping to fourth place in the standings and out of contention for the title. CASL finished the tournament with a 0-2-1 record.

Charlotte's SCSA 93 Gold fell to 0-3 in the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Baltimore Casa Mia Bays 94, which did not allow SCSA a shot on goal.