SBSC Boys roll; next match is for shot at national title

A five-goal explosion in the second half powered the Santa Barbara Soccer Club’s Under-15 Boys to a 6-1 rout over GSA Phoenix Red of Georgia at the United States Youth Soccer National Championships on Wednesday in Overland Park, Kan.

The victory sets up a must-win match against Michigan’s Vardar on Friday. A win puts Santa Barbara in the national final on Saturday. Vardar beat Florida’s Sunrise Elite, 4-2, on Wednesday for its second win and leads the four-team group with six points. Santa Barbara is second (1-0-1) with four points.

Santa Barbara jumped out to an early lead against GSA Phoenix Red. Lucky Puengrod was fouled just outside the penalty area and Benji Garcia delivered a brilliant free kick from 20 yards that beat the goalkeeper to the near post.

Santa Barbara got a big break just before halftime when a GSA Phoenix Red player was given a red card and ejected from the match after he kicked Jules Pasco and then stepped on him as Pasco lied on the ground in pain.

Santa Barbara capitalized on the man advantage in the second half.

Brandon Sanchez hit a brilliant shot to the upper corner of the goal from 25 yards for the second goal. Sahid Conteh got the first of his three assists.

His second was a feed to Carson Vom Steeg, who buried a right-footed shot to the upper corner from 25 yards.

Giovanni Acosta tallied the fourth goal after receiving a nice layoff pass from Conteh. Acosta beat the goalkeeper with a left-footed blast from 20 yards.

GSA Phoenix Red made it 4-1 before Santa Barbara closed out the match with two more goals.

Tanner Mees took a pass from Puengrod and beat the goalkeeper with a solid strike from 16 yards for the fifth goal.

Puengrod scored the sixth goal on a rebound after a corner kick.

Santa Barbara is seeking to return to the national championship match for the second straight year. This group won the USYS Under-14 national title last summer in South Carolina.