Score a few goals then focus on defending.
That was what MUFC, the eventual champion, set out to do in each and every game of the la Copa de BHS Tournament, which was held on Feb. 28.
The strategy worked to perfection for MUFC, although the final was an edge-of-your-seat thriller. MUFC, sparked by Alex Ruteski’s two goals and a solid effort in the net by Chad Durkin, edged the Ballhanders 2-1 to garner the title.
“A couple of our players thought we had little to no chance of winning so, when we won, it was an exciting feeling for our team,” said Durkin, a sophomore. “The championship game was our toughest match. We had to play a team filled with varsity soccer players.”
MUFC, too, had its share of talent, boasting five varsity players. In addition to Ruteski and Durkin, the squad featured Zach Gupta, Faizan Arshad, Jonny Shirley, Damian Naumoski and Carole Quinones.
Last year, Durkin was on the victorious squad, the lone freshman among seniors. His play in goal was one of the reasons why MUFC triumphed over the Ballhandlers, who were led by Andi Selimi, Bilal Veysel and Scott Tolochko.
“We felt confident with Chad as our goalkeeper,” Gupta said. “He’s got varsity experience. His decision-making abilities and agility make him a keeper who stands out.”
The Ballhandlers’ goal came off the foot of Selimi, a player for the Cedar Stars Academy in Carlstadt. Selimi was a constant threat, weaving around opposing players and taking numerous shots on goal in the final and the games leading up to it.
Gupta felt MUFC was able to withstand the pressure applied by the Ballhandlers, not only because of Durkin but because of their “good chemistry.”
The early rounds of the tournament, which was sponsored by the Spanish Club, took place in half gyms. The semifinals and title game were contested in the full gym.
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