The Center of Anna Maria Island’s gym was filled with fast-paced, wall beating, bouncing ball youth indoor soccer. With six regular season games under their belt, the three teams sponsored by the Ugly Grouper headed into playoff night last Wednesday with Team Blue at the top of the rankings.
Ugly Grouper Team Red and Team White went head-to-head in the first game of the night to decide who survived elimination and play in the championship game. Consistent with the final season standings, Team Red won the semi-final game.
After a short break in the action, Ugly Grouper Team Blue and Team Red took to the court for the last 40 minutes of play in the season.
Ugly Grouper Team Blue came into the game with the stronger record, but the championship game proved once again that the win could be earned by any team.
Frankie Coleman started off the game with the kickoff back to an Ugly Grouper Team Blue teammate. Team Red’s Gregory Jordan quickly showed the many friends and family in the stands his abilities on the indoor pitch with a shot rocketing to the goal.
Jackson Pakbaz, the eldest son of coach Sam Pakbaz, made the first assist to Coleman for the tying goal soon after.
For the first half of the game, the scoring went back and forth, making for an exciting match-up. Key player Anthony Nguyen, for Team Red, put the third point on the scoreboard giving his team a one-point lead.
Pakbaz’s first shot of the night was saved by goalie Harrison Schenerlein. Fighting back his brother Pakbaz scored the second goal for their team with the assist from William and goal by Jackson.
Tied up, Team Red played a strong offensive game with two girls playing in the big game. Ava Harlan and Laila Yavalar covered the entire court, supporting their team on both sides of the bouncy yellow ball.
Nguyen, all by himself with coach Pakbaz trying to get his team to cover him, scored his second goal of the game. He followed up quickly with another shot only to be stopped by J. Pakbaz.
Coleman made a fast-paced charge toward the Team Red goal. With strong defense by Payton Harlan, Coleman could not find the net.
Back and forth action with post shots and Schenerlein saves charged the atmosphere with energy.
Playing to the direction and encouragement of Team Red coaches Gary Harlan and Kris Yavalar pushed offensively and attacked defensively with a no quit attitude.
Dribbling through defensive traffic, Nguyen got his hat-trick pushing Team Red’s lead up by two points.
Team Blue’s W. Pakbaz and Coleman put the pressure on Jordan blocking his shot and preventing the score. The defense could not stop the offensive assault by P. Harlan and Jordan. Harlan’s shot went just wide of the post, but Jordan’s quick thinking and speed chased down the rebound for the fifth Team Red goal, moving the score to 5-2.
Despite having just played the semi-final game, Team Red showed no sign of fatigue as the first half of the championship game came to a close.
After a great halftime talk by coach Pakbaz, J. Pakbaz came out from behind the boards to stop Nguyen in his tracks. Pakbaz scored on a free kick sparking a fire for Team Blue narrowing Team Red’s lead.
Team Blue’s goalkeeper Michael Coleman saved another missile shot by Nguyen. His relentless pursuit gave Nguyen another scoring opportunity, this time successful.
Caden Quinby, for Team Blue, took the court with a vengeance helping to give his teammates support as they fought to make a comeback.
Both teams used the boards to move the soccer ball past the immediate defenders. Jordan took advantage of the indoor rules finding an opening for his second goal in the game, widening Team Red’s lead.
Team Blue’s drive to win continued and the crowd exploded when J. Pakbaz’s midcourt shot went through the hands and legs of Schenerlein.
Team Red shot another strike for a goal before F. Coleman fired a shot that went off the back of Yavalar. The team’s MVP J. Pakbaz took another free kick that went past the goalie advancing the score to 8-5.
Minutes later J. Pakbaz hit another goal reducing the deficit for Team Blue by only two points.
The Team Blue defense just could not stop the Team Red offense in the last minutes of the game. Once again not covered, Jordan took the behind the net pass by Nguyen for a goal.
After a brilliant stop by Yavalar on the offensive press by J. Pakbaz, Team Red scored its 10th goal of the game.
Nguyen scored the final goal for his team after a tough possession battle between Jordan and W. Pakbaz.
With the remaining fight in the game, Team Blue’s F. Coleman scored the final goal of the game, capping the score at 11-7, giving the underdog Team Red the championship title.