Sandy, UT (3/16/2017)
Sparta 00 JK are you're 2017 17U National League White Champions!!! The Sparta 00 JK team had a great run through the National League leading up to the winner-take-all final against Seattle United. After finishing with a 3-1 record after December's round of games, Sparta went into the March weekend with a great shot at winning the 17U White Championship. A win and a draw in their first two games set the stage for an epic finish against Seattle United for the spot in the National Championship Series.
Seattle, which needed a win to pass Sparta, came out with some early pressure, but the Utah side did well to handle the initial surge. Sparta managed to go in front just before halftime, as Arturo Martin Pimentel sliced into the box and cut a left-footed shot back into the right corner. Sparta doubled its lead in the 52nd minute with Gabriel Lopez Serrato’s left-footed strike, which flew past the outstretched hand of the Seattle keeper. Borislav Stoyanov converted a 78th-minute penalty kick to pull Seattle back within one, but it wasn’t enough as Sparta held on for the 2-1 win. By token of the win, Sparta 00 JK clinched their place in the National Championship Series this Summer.
After wrapping up the win, Head Coach Justus Koelliker had this to say, "I told the team last year that I believed we could get back to nationals again. We worked hard to get ourselves ready to play in the National League, and that hard work paid off with a return trip. The team had a great attitude and were very focused on achieving their goal. It was a team effort with everyone working together and filling their role in the success of the team. The next step will be to prepare for Nationals, and attempt to improve on our 3rd place finish last year."
"The USYS National League is a very well run competition. We are grateful for all of the hard work and dedication that so many people put into making it such a great event. This is our third year playing in the National League, and every single match has been difficult and helped us improve as a team. The exposure to college coaches and scouts has been tremendous. We have had a lot of interest in players, from some great programs all over the country."
The Sparta 00 JK team is actually comprised of players from two teams that Coach Koelliker has, his 01 and 00 teams. There are 10 teams from each team, which helps make this achievement even more special with half the team playing up an age group. The two teams are two of the best in the state with the 01's winning State Cup last Fall while the 00's narrowly lost in the State Cup finals.
UYSA is looking forward to seeing what this Sparta team can do at the National Championship Series this Summer and will be sure to be cheering them on.