The Colorado Rapids Under-14s fell to Solar Chelsea on penalties in the Dallas Cup quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon, going out of the tournament in painful fashion after the match ended in a 1-1 deadlock. The Rapids, who went 3-0-0 in the group stage to qualify for the quarterfinals, had an excellent tournament despite fielding a team that was a year younger than most others in their bracket.
“We played outstanding today,” said Gary Evans, the team’s head coach. “I thought we did really well. Conditions were poor, field was hard and bumpy, we playing an older team that was very physical, that fought to keep us from playing soccer. I’m really proud of the boys.”
The Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the first half through a beautiful goal, as Eric Morales and Wilmer Cabrera worked a perfect combination to take the lead. Morales dribbled down the left side of the field and rounded a defender, before playing it inside to Cabrera. Cabrera knocked it back to Morales, who found Cabrera again on a give-and-go, and the forward continued his excellent tournament by scoring the goal.
Solar Chelsea, playing an extremely physical brand of soccer, managed to tie the match up in the second half. A corner kick was dummied well by a Solar attacker and found its way low and into the six-yard box, where a scramble ensued before a player on the Dallas-based team was able to poke it home from close range.
The Rapids tried to regain their lead during the rest of regulation and in a pair of 10-minute extra time periods, but the match ended in the 1-1 tie. Defender Jose Bencomo had an excellent game, repeatedly thwarting opposition attacks, but on penalty kicks Solar Chelsea was able to come away with the victory.
When asked to single players out for praise, Evans was quick to say that his whole team had performed admirably.
“Everybody rose above,” said Evans. “It was a tough game, and we were playing a year up. They were extremely physical, but the players across the field did very well.”
The loss marked the end of the tournament for the Rapids, as the team will now return to Denver. However, Evans remarked that the team had done an excellent job and had a lot to be proud of.
“It’s always painful to go out in that way,” said Evans. “But the way that these boys represented the club this week was really outstanding, it was phenomenal.”