For the first time in club history, Utah Celtic FC has won a Boys National Championship! The 2008 Boys coached by Matt Bradley (Assisted by Cam Jolley & Nate Barker) won the U15 USYS National Championship in Florida last week, tallying the highest goal differential in the event across any age group in both boys or girls (+14). This is also the first U15 boys national championship ever won by a boys team in the state of Utah.
The 2008 squad qualified for Nationals winning their NLPRO bracket in FL, and AZ last year. For preparation, the team also played in Far West Regionals in June where they went 6-0, winning a Regional Title for the Club.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP STAGE
The bracket draw was tough, including 3 of the top 5 teams and little margin for error as only one team advancing. They handled their first opponent easily winning 3-0. In the second game, one of the Utah Celtic FC players broke his leg in the 62nd minute, and the opponent scored in the same possession to narrow the lead to 3-2. Utah Celtic FC would go on to score 2 more goals in stoppage time to win 5-2. Game 3 was their toughest and closest matchup of the tournament against a strong Stony Brook FC team from New York. With the game tied in extra time, defending deep in their own half, the boys sprung a counter attack, finding the feet of Brooks Barker. Brooks dribbled the length of the field and nutmegged a defender while passing the ball to Sebi Huermann, who after on a 90-yard sprint to join the attack beat the keeper by flicking the ball over his leg to the near post. This sealed advancement into the knockout stages with 1-0 victory.
SEMIFINALS AND FINALS
The boys cruised to 3-0 victory in the semi final with 60% possession and only allowing 1 shot on goal. In the Final, the boys opened up the scoring early with a searing strike from the top of the box by Blake Stuart, who went on the win the tournament’s Golden Ball. Brooks Barker scored again in the 21st minute but SC Wave would respond to cut the deficit in half. As SC Wave took more and more risks pushing numbers forward, the Utah Celtic FC boys made them pay and would go on to score another 3 goals, clinching the U15 National Title with a score of 5-1.
THE CELTIC WAY
What is most impressive about this group is how they find SUCCESS the Celtic way. Every player played 30-80 minutes each game during nationals and there were 8 different players with goals and assists (DEVELOPMENT). The boys battled adversity and injury by waking up at 5 am, doing ice baths, recovery sessions, and constantly hydrating to maximize performance in the Florida heat (CHARACTER). They also found time for fun, service, and worship all year long while their roster included a number of high-level multi-sport athletes (BALANCE). Balance + Development + Character = Success. Excited to see what this group continues to do in years to come. Congratulations boys! Well Deserved.