A match that should not have been played turned out to be one of the most entertaining in the Columbia Invitational Soccer Tournament yesterday.
With a forfeit victory in hand, the Bethesda Alliance used a goal by Nino Marcantonio in injury time to capture the boys under-17 championship, 3-2, over the Washington Diplomats in an even, hard-fought contest.
"We didn't want an asterisk next to our title," said Loyola High's Nick Morris, who assisted on Bethesda's first goal.
Both teams entered the final with 5-0 records, but Diplomats central midfielder Kenny Arena, son of D.C. United coach Bruce Arena, had been given his second yellow card of the tournament in the semifinal victory. Tournament rules called for a one-game suspension, but the Washington team voted to play with Arena and forfeit the title if it won.
Tournament director Louise Waxler said the match should not have been played. "If the referees had known [the situation] ahead of time, there wouldn't have been a game," she said. The Diplomats "will never be back again. They broke the rules. It's not up to the team to vote."
Diplomats coach Pete Mehlert said he agreed with his players' decision. "Two yellow cards in six games [in three days] with this kind of fatigue and inconsistent referees is not right," he said. "The players just felt we didn't care about the championship; we just wanted to play a good game. It's not the national championship. It's a tournament."
Bryan Madej of Archbishop Spalding set up the deciding goal halfway through the eight minutes of extra time, finding Marcantonio wide-open in front of the net with a right-side cross. Marcantonio's 15-yard shot deflected off the fingertips of the lunging goalkeeper into the right corner.
"I had a breakaway, but I lost control of it and Nino was unmarked," said Madej. "I picked my head up and he was there. It was a tough game from the start, but we were ready."
Chase Franklin knocked home a rebound in the 55th minute to give the S.C. Baltimore Bays a 1-0 decision over the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Enforcers for the boys U-14 crown.
Brandon Fisher found the net in sudden-death overtime to provide the S.C. Baltimore Select a 1-0 triumph over Columbia United.
Two other Baltimore area teams made finals. New Jersey's F.C. Coppa dropped the Columbia Strikers, 2-0, in the boys U-15 final, and F.C. Delco of the Philadelphia suburbs edged the S.C. Baltimore Pride, 1-0, in the girls U-16 title match.
U-17: Bethesda Alliance 3, Washington Diplomats 2. U-16: Juventus (Worcester, Mass.) 2, Hazlet (N.J.) Rovers 1. U-15: F.C. Coppa (New Jersey) 2, Columbia Strikers 0. U-14: S.C. Baltimore Bays 1, Cherry Hill (N.J.) Enforcers 0.
U-19: Braddock Road Lightning (Fairfax, Va.) 1, Wyckoff (N.J.) Torpedoes 0. U-18: St. Paul (Minn.) Blackhawks 1, New Jersey Strikers 0. U-17: Braddock Road Legend (Fairfax, Va.) 2, Greater Boston Bolts 1. U-16: F.C. Delco (Delaware County, Pa.) 1, S.C. Baltimore Pride 0. U-15: Chantilly (Va.) Hotspurs 3, Braddock Road Omni (Fairfax, Va.) 1. U-14: Bethesda Fury 1, Yankee United (Mass.) Rage 0.
Pub Date: 5/26/98