Alex Liua’s hat trick helped lead the U-18 San Jose Earthquakes Academy team to a season-ending 4-3 victory over the San Juan Soccer Club on the campus of Cal State East Bay last weekend.
The win caps a successful 2013-14 season in the rigorous Northwest Division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. They finished the year with a mark of 11-9-6 and a plus-10 goal differential, falling just a single point short of a postseason birth.
Normally when a goal is scored in the third minute of a match, it provides the team with a decided advantage, but when SJSC charged out of the opening whistle and got a quick strike in the first minute of the match, it just infused energy into the Quakes.
Leading scorer Elisama Padilla responded just 2 minutes later for the equalizer, and San Jose’s offense was off and running. Goalkeeper Luke Dennison settled into the match as well, giving his team the confidence from the back to push forward and attack the SJSC defensive unit.
Liua struck for his first tally of the match in the 23 minute to give San Jose a lead that they would hold for the remainder of the match. Just 6 minutes later, it was Liua again, pushing the lead to 3-1 with his 8th of the season. San Juan added a goal in the 34th minute but the Quakes were not to be discouraged and, when Liua scored again in the 56th, the match was put out of reach.
San Juan found a late goal to again draw within one, but Dennison and the defense salted away the remaining time and came away with the 4-3 win.
The victory capped off a year with many highs for the 18s despite narrowly missing the postseason. San Jose had a 7-match unbeaten streak that stretched from Nov. 9 all the way to Feb. 8, and included a 3-0-0 mark at the Winter Showcase in Bradenton, FL. Two of those three victories in Florida came over postseason-bound teams and the other saw San Jose score a season-high 6 goals in the win over Baltimore Bays Chelsea. Liua and midfielder Max Mirner led the team in games played, both seeing action in 25 of the 26 for their side this year.
Padilla led the club with 10 goals this season, finishing one ahead of Liua, with Macario Hing-Glover’s 8 a close third. Juan Velasquez added 7 goals for the year while Josh Morton and Dalton Pando both added four apiece.
Next year should be another great step forward for the organization as a whole, and for the 18s in particular, as many talented players will move up from the younger ranks. Goalkeepers JT Marcinkowski and Remi Prieur will be joined by playmakers Amir Bashti and Philip Hausen, making the move up for next season from an uber-skilled 16s club that can finish no worse than third in the division.
- Richter Media