LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- J. J. Kremer made Baltimore Spirit coach David Nesbitt look like a genius yesterday.
After playing the outside midfield for 90 minutes of regulation, Kremer was moved to the front line for overtime. He scored two quick goals to spark the Spirit to a bizarre 5-2 triumph over the Colonia (N.J.) FC Raiders for the Snickers U.S. Youth Soccer Region I under-19 boys championship at Rider University.
"Coach pushed me up, and [the goals] just came," said Kremer, a Calvert Hall graduate who has played two seasons at UMBC.
The Spirit, four-time defending Maryland Cup winner, advances to the USYS final four July 28-31 in Blaine, Minn. It is the first Baltimore-area team to qualify for the nationals since Columbia City United captured the under-16 boys Niotis Cup in 1987. The Columbia Jays (1985) and the St. Elizabeth Soccer Club (1973) were the last area teams to take home the U-19 McGuire Cup.
Thirty frenetic minutes of overtime yesterday produced five goals and three red-card ejections. Each team was issued four yellow cards in the game.
With Chris Eatough sent off in the 93rd minute, the Spirit was playing one short when Kremer found the net twice in a three-minute span of the first 15-minute overtime session.
In the 99th minute, Kremer carried into the penalty area when he was shoved to the ground from behind by Miguel Aguilera. Soccer conventional wisdom dictates a fouled player should never take the subsequent penalty kick, but Kremer did and he rattled his shot hard off the inside of the left post for a 2-1 lead.
Aguilera "was talking to me before and said he was going to get me. I guess I tackled him or something," said Kremer. "He picked a bad time to do it."
Soon after, Kremer intercepted a Colonia clear 40 yards out, dribbled free through three defenders, and as soon as goalkeeper Joaquin Hertado began his advance, looped a 20-yarder over his head for a 3-1 advantage.
They were Kremer's only goals in five tournament games in which Baltimore scored 35 times.
The F.C. Baltimore Stars came up on the the short end of the boys U-14 final. Charles River United of Boston retained its regional crown when Chris Cleary drilled a loose ball from a crowd in front of the goal with three minutes left in overtime for a 1-0 decision. Maryland's third regional finalist, the U-14 girls Bethesda Force, won its title from the Penns Forest (Pa.) Fire, 1-0, on Ashley Gormley's penalty kick after Shelly Browne was tripped in the box with four minutes to go.