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7/2012 PSG '96 Finishes Fourth at Nationals

When the six best under-15 teams in the nation assembled in steamy Rock Hill, South Carolina last week for the US National Championships, PSG 96 were poised to challenge for a place in the final, but a tough second game loss to Challenger Crew (Ohio-S) cost them their spot. In the end, PSG 96 came away with a 1-1-1 record and 4th place overall finish. The team, coaches, and parents can be proud of this accomplishment as they represented Manhattan Soccer Club and Region 1 with a great display of soccer, pride, and professionalism.

The first game, against Cincinnatti's Cup Crew Jrs Gold (Ohio-N), was a battle of nerves and willpower that saw chances come and go throughout the match, but at the final whistle no clear winner would walk away with the three points. The heat was oppressive, but the boys worked hard to prove they deserved to be at this top level. A 0-0 draw and a point going into the remaining two matches set up PSG with a good opportunity to advance to the final.

With the temperature reaching a heat index of 107 degrees, the second game turned out to be "one of those days" when nothing seemed to go right. Playing another Ohio (Columbus) team, Challenger Crew Black, the day turned for the worse when after just 30 seconds and a defensive miscue, PSG found themselves down 1-0. PSG settled well after that and played their posession-style and attacking game, but then got caught on a counter attack and were down 2-0 at the half. With some players suffering from heat exhaustion and legs feeling like they were dipped in cement, PSG struggled to keep pace with an encouraged Challenger Crew side. After PSG went down 3-0, PSG fought back to get to 3-1 on a beautiful passing combination form Daniel O'Grady, Ousmane Dia and Amara Sesay - with Sesay poking home the goal off his own rebound. The goal provided a much needed spark to the team PSG and pressed for another only to find our defense stretched and Crew netting another to make it final at 4-1. 

Although the championship run was over, that didn't stop the motivation for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the nation going into the final game against SAA Real Madrid from Miami, FL. On another scorching hot day, PSG showed why they deserved to be one of the best in the country as Amara Sesay scored a powerful near post header off of a Daniel O'Grady corner kick early in the second half.  Putting together their best game of the tournament, PSG put on a dominating performance that earned them a 1-0 win and four points overall in the tournament. 

For Coach Wilson Egidio and the PSG team it was a wonderful experience that only served to whet their appetite for another chance at the national championships next season. There's no doubt they will be there again. Congratulations to all the players, parents, and coaches of Manhattan SC PSG 96 - it was a fantastic season and an historical acheivement for MSC!!

MSC PSG 96 U15 Boys: Gerardo Amigon, Dylan Hennessy, Sean Fitzgerald, Will Ziebold, Gabriel Armstrong, Diego Cueva, Moctar Niang, Sam Farman, Steven Millan, Jeremy Barovick (C), Daniel O'Grady, Mamud Keita, Thomas Gatanis, A'mani Francois, Jordy Ortiz, Michael Stier, Marven Jean-Pierre, Ousmane Dia, Amara Sesay; and Guest players from MSC Cruzeiro U14, Kevin Rodriguez, Ousmane Barry.

Coaches/Manager: Wilson Egidio, Gui Stampur, Andrew Fitzgerald, Doug Gatanis, and Bill Armstrong.

For more on PSG's run at the National Championships, check out these articles in the New York Times and the South Carolina Herald Online. For the schedule and final standings of the US National Championships - click here.