The Rochester Futbol Club U16 boys soccer team was recently crowned national champions at the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup competition in Westfield, Indiana.
Led by coach Scott Graham, the boys beat teams from South Carolina, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas and Minnesota to bring the trophy back to Rochester.
In the dramatic final against Minnesota, Carter Englert’s header off a Cooper LaValley corner evened the score at one each, and pushed the game to double overtime.
The boys fell behind 2-1 in the second overtime, and were down to nine players when Tyler Lewandowski stunned Minnesota and the large crowd with a 25-yard score that tied the game again and sent it to penalty kicks. Sam O’Conner, Ajan Rajamohan, Jackson Vogt and Lewandowski converted their kicks while keeper Joey Gombatto sealed the win by stopping two of the first three Minnesota attempts.
“We entered the weekend with a lot of confidence, but under no pressure as we knew it was going to be an extremely tough event,” Graham said. “We knew we had a lot of quality in our roster. We have game-winners and big-game players and that allows us to compete against any team in the country. The hunger, desire and determination to win was clear from game one. I have never in my life been involved in a game where my team has trailed and played with two players less, equalized and then went on to win the game, never mind in a national final. It was a game and day that everyone involved will remember proudly for the rest of their lives. We are extremely proud of the team bringing home the club’s first national trophy.”
The team included Gabe Barraclough-Tan and O’Connor, of Brighton; Aidan Cady, of East Rochester; Ryan Collins, of Fairport; Englert, LaValley, Lewandowski and CJ Takatch, of Greece; Justin Arilotta, Jack Gombatto, Joey Gombatto and Josh Ranke, of Hilton; Chris Ewell and Vogt, of Penfield; Will Bowen, of Pittsford; Rajamohan, of Spencerport; and Ethan Grover, of Warsaw.