Sylvania-based Pacesetter soccer club coach Ryan Creech, center, instructs his team during May practice.
By virtue of two consecutive home wins to close the regular season, the Pacesetter Super 20 soccer team earned a wild-card spot in the league’s national championship.
With the late rally, the Sylvania-based team qualified for the postseason by the slimmest of margins.
“We thought we missed out because of goal difference but we got a surprise call from the league,” said Pacesetter executive director of coaching Jimmy Walker. “We thought we had an outside chance.”
The team — with elite players that are ages 17 to 20 — will compete next weekend in the Super-20 League national championships in Bradenton, Fla.
The squad, which is competing in its inaugural season, won three of its last four games to finish with a 5-3-2 record. Pacesetter earned 17 points and outscored their opponents 14-11.
It finished tied for second in the six-team Midwest East division along with the Michigan Force.
Walker said Pacesettervilla stepped up in the two must-win games.
“We're really pleased with how the season finished up,” Walker said.
“They were massive wins.”
Only 16 of the league’s 55 teams received bids to championships that will take place July 18-21.
Half of the club’s roster consists of former local high school standouts. It’s the first team in the history of Pacesetter Soccer club ever to get to nationals.
St. John’s Jesuit graduate Ryan Peterson scored his team’s lone goal in a pivotal 1-0 win over the Force last Monday.
Peterson, who now plays at the University of Dayton, scored with his team down a man.
Going into the half, Pacesetter’s Andre Landell was issued a red card and the team was forced to play the entire second half with just 10 men.
Peterson scored 15 minutes into the second half with a terrific individual effort.
“He beat the defender with a good piece of skill and then beat the goalie one on one,” Walker said. “He scored into the corner with a really good finish.”
Peterson’s first goal of the season came on the field of his former high school.
“That was doubly nice,” Walker said.
Another former Titans player, Jake Martin, assisted on one of Pacesetter’s four goals in a 4-2 win over the Toronto Lynx on Tuesday.
Walker, who formed the team and is an assistant coach, said the key to the late-season surge has been offensive production.
“We started scoring some goals so we’re very, very pleased with that,” he said.
“We had a middle spell in the season where we weren’t scoring goals, so hopefully our forwards are peaking.”
Landell, an elite player from England, scored two of the goals in the win. Youssef Naciri, a native of Morocco, scored the other two goals.
The team plays its first playoff game Thursday against an opponent that is still to be determined. The team must make it out of its four-team pool to reach the semifinals on July 20.
The championship match is July 21.
All of the team's matches will be shown live on the Internet at tourbeausportsgroup.com.
“When you put a first-year team together, you never really know what will happen. So we’re thrilled,” Walker said.
Contact Mark Monroe at:
419-724-6354, or on
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.