The Seattle Sounders FC Academy U-18 squad has advanced to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national semifinals with a dramatic 3-2 extra-time win over in-state rival, Crossfire Premier.
In a back-and-forth affair, the young Sounders took a 2-0 lead into halftime only to see their lead evaporate in the second period. With penalty kicks seeming inevitable, center back Jackson Ragen produced a stunning game-winner to book the Rave Green’s ticket to the Final Four.
Having advanced from an extremely difficult group featuring the likes of FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls, Seattle flew out of the gates knowing full well a strong start would prove crucial in a heated rivalry match.
Milo Barton opened the scoring in the seventh minute when midfielder Jamie Dimitroff slipped a pass to him in the box, and the young striker struck a first-time shot into the bottom corner. Barton found himself at the heart of Seattle’s second goal when his cheeky, no-look pass split two Crossfire defenders and rolled into the path of Paul Rothrock, who swept his shot underneath the onrushing goalkeeper.
Crossfire matched the Sounders’ initial intensity to start the second half, putting the Rave Green back line under constant pressure with long balls into the box and a barrage of crosses from the flanks. The defense held resolute until the 63rd minute when a hopeful long ball over the top led to a miscommunication in the back and an easy finish for the Crossfire striker.
The Rave Green then pushed forward in search of a decisive third goal, and nearly found one in the 70th minute when winger Rothrock was taken down inside the area. Shandon Hopeau took the spot kick, and although he beat the goalkeeper, his shot pulled too far to the left and crashed back off the post. With the momentum in their favor, Crossfire scored the equalizer in the 86th minute off a well-designed set piece, sending the match into extra time.
The first period of extra time came and went, with both sides carving out a few half-chances without really threatening the opposing team’s goal. It seemed like the match was destined for penalties until Seattle earned a corner kick in the 111th minute. Rothrock whipped in a picture-perfect cross to the top of the six-yard-box and Ragen timed his run to perfection and powered his header into the back of the net.
With Crossfire searching desperately for another late equalizer, the young Sounders bunkered in and defended vigorously, earning the victory and advancing to the USSDA national semifinals for the first time in club history.