With a pair of wins over the weekend, the Pacific FC Fire won the Challenge Cup youth soccer state tournament for boys born in 1995.
The Fire defeated Bainbridge Island FC Blue, 2-1, in Sunday’s boys under-16 title match at the Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila. It is the first state cup tournament championship for the team, in its third season.
The state title qualifies the Fire to represent Washington at the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup tournament regionals. That tournament, featuring 12 teams from 10 states, is scheduled for June 12-17 at Arvada, Colo.
Pacific FC reached Sunday’s Challenge Cup final by beating a Northwest Nationals Blue club, 1-0, in a semifinal played on Saturday.
Bainbridge and Pacific have developed a rivalry in Division 1 of the Washington State Premier League, according to Fire head coach Tommy Nuzum. Bainbridge took a quick lead in the third minute of Sunday’s title match, but the Fire equalized before halftime on a goal by Dalton Ries. That goal came in a penalty-area scramble and was set up by a shot toward goal by Arturo Gomez that Ries finished.
The winning goal came on a penalty kick by Joseph Hernandez with about 18 minutes remaining. Pacific FC’s Illya Semyrazum was fouled inside the penalty area to earn the penalty kick.
Nuzum said the Bainbridge team created several chances to tie the score before time expired.
“They put a lot of pressure on us the entire game,” Nuzum said. “Bainbridge is a very talented team with a lot of skill and a lot of speed.”
The Challenge Cup is the state tournament for developmental level soccer teams. It is one level below the Championship Cup, which sends its champions to U.S. Youth Soccer’s Far West regional to compete for a spot in the national finals.
This is the third time in as many years that this Pacific FC has made the final four of the Challenge Cup. Two seasons ago, this team lost in the boys under-14 finals. Last season the Fire lost in the under-15 semifinals to the eventual champion.
Nuzum said that injuries to key players have hurt his team in league play, where the Fire are in the lower half of the standings. But those struggles might have led to some state cup opponents overlooking this team, Nuzum said.
Players for the Fire are: Sterling Ransom, Andrew Jamison, Eddie Altukoff, Joseph Hernandez, Phillipe Mattos, Quinten Martinez, Reed Wortman, Ries, Brendan Nuzum, Gomez, Sam Rivas, Troy Blake, Sharif Batroukh, Andrew Spaulding, Semyrazum, and Brett Sparks. Nuzum is assisted by Ron Sparks and Jason Martinez.
Two other boys teams lost in Challenge Cup semifinal matches played on Saturday.
In the under-17 tournament, the Seattle United Tango beat the Vancouver United Northstar 3-0.
In the under-19 tournament, Seattle United Cop (93) edged Pacific FC (93) 2-1.