The Santa Barbara Soccer Club Under-14 boys team won the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship on Saturday in Rock Hill, S.C., beating top-ranked Sunrise Elite of Florida in a penalty-kick shootout.
After the teams battled to a scoreless draw through regulation and two overtime periods, coach Rudy Ybarra’s squad prevailed 4-2 in the shootout to claim the first national title in SBSC history.
Benji Garcia, Francisco Arroyo, Carson Vom Steeg and Lucky Puengrod converted their PKs for Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara changed goalkeepers for the shootout, bringing in Eric Contreras for Eduardo Delgado. Contreras stopped the third and fourth attempts by Sunrise.
Brandon Sanchez, who tied for top goal-scoring honors with three, was named the tournament MVP and
Tim Heiduk, Puengrod and Delgado were selected to the First 11 all-tournament team.
Santa Barbara was beaten by Sunrise Elite, 2-1, in the final game of pool play at the national tournament on Friday. Sunrise was the No. 1-ranked boys U-14 team in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.
In the title match, Santa Barbara tightened up its defense and Delgado played an outstanding in goal.
“The game was played very well from both teams, especially on defense,” Ybarra said. “Both teams did not allow each other a lot of time on the ball and played very organized on defense. It was a big game from the Santa Barbara Soccer Club as a unit.”
Santa Barbara had five shots on goal and Sunrise took three. The Sunrise goalkeeper made five saves.
Ybarra was overwhelmed by the accomplishment of the team, which advanced to the national championships by winning the USYS Region 4 championship in Phoenix, Ariz.
“I am blessed to part of this team and club,” he said.
The Santa Barbara team will be arriving home on Sunday at around 12:30 p.m. You can meet the team bus in the upper level parking lot (near Sears) at La Cumbre Plaza.
Santa Barbara U-14 team members are Juan Santana, Tim Heiduk, Carson Vom Steeg, Juan Alvarez, Francisco Arroyo, Tanner Mees, Benjamin Garcia, Jules Pasco, Antony Andoyan, Eric Contreras, Brandon Sanchez, Jacob Blacker, Giovanny Acosta, Chairat “Lucky” Puengrod, Eduardo Delgado, Brian Finger and Shea Blackman.