Excitement Builds as Peninsula Cup Soccer Reaches Midseason
The legendary soccer star Pelé would be proud. Not only are the teams named Brazil performing well but the quality of play and camaraderie have been outstanding throughout the first half of the Peninsula World Cup season.
Nowhere has the action been tighter than the girls' 6th-8th Grade division. Four of the ten games played have ended in ties. Ireland, which suffered it first blemish last Thursday - a tie with England, is in position to lock up first place early but second place is a three-team race. On Wednesday, Jessie Boland (2 goals) and Frances Amadeo (1 goal) paced Ireland in a 3-0 victory.
Brazil has played itself into a similar position in the girls' fourth to fifth Grade division. At 4-1, they command first place thanks to the powerful legs of Therese Boyle (7 goals), Celeste Lynch and Meredith Connelly. Emma Collins and Annie Ryan are among Brazil's assist leaders.
Spain edged into second with an exciting 2-1 win over Ireland in the final game before midseason. Samantha Donnelly scored for Ireland to tie the game 1-1 with one minute left. Spain countered with Megan Kirk's game-winner as time expired. Two excellent passes by Shannon Twomey and Taylor Vegh created the opportunity for Megan (5 goals).
The girls' 2nd-3rd Grade division is a six-team race. Brazil, powered by Emily Carlton's league-leading 12 goals, is the pace setter. Rebecca Schreiner had at least five great saves playing net in the first half of a key win over Ireland on Wednesday.
Ireland, Italy and England are in a tight race for second. On Monday, Ireland closed the first half of the season with a critical, tightly-played 1-0 victory over Italy. Team scoring leader Maria DiCarlo (7 goals) netted the game's only goal. Kim Saks and Carolyn Kelly were outstanding in goal.
England recovered from an 0-1-2 start to rejoin the hunt with two victories last week, 3-0 over Spain and 2-1 over Germany. Shannon Rochelle scored all five goals over two games and leads the team with 7. Italy also started slowly but had won its last two before Monday's narrow loss. Kathryn Gibson has four goals.
On the boys' side, England is looking strong in the 6th-8th Grade division, winning with powerful scoring (9-7 over Brazil on Tuesday) and defense (2-1 over Ireland on Thursday). Italy also had the scoring bug on Tuesday, topping Ireland in a 9-5 barnburner.
Brazil is a dominant 5-0 in the boy's 4th-5th Grade division but the other five teams are all in the hunt for second place. Last Thursday, Spain fell just shy of knocking off Brazil, losing 2-1. Chris Ray had the goal for Spain, which also benefited from the outstanding play of Michael McGlhattan.
Ray also scored twice in a 4-2 loss to England. Steven Edmonds was the defensive star of the game for Spain. Luke Schreiner, Joe Moran, Matthew Cappiello and Brian McNamee scored for England. England also had great defense from Willie Robles, Nick Mancusi and John Flanigan.
England notched its second win, 4-0 over Germany on Thursday. Luke Schreiner had the hat trick along with one goal by Garrett Murnan. England had six different players score in the first five games.
Ireland finished the first half with its first victory, 4-2 over Italy on Thursday. Jeffrey Lavin, James Amodeo and Jimmy Howard (2) scored for Ireland.
Germany has the 5-0 team in the boys' 2nd-3rd Grade division. Again, the race for second place is wide open with five teams that have either one or two wins.
Last week, Ireland rebounded from an 0-2-1 start to post two wins, 2-0 over Brazil and 4-3 over Italy, passing those two teams to edge into second place. Italy kept close with a 2-1 win over Spain. Germany maintained its lead with a pair of shutout victories.
The first grade finished its second week of play and it was as thrilling as week one. Italy and England played a spirited game and ended up knotted at 1-1 when the final whistle blew.
Team Italy scored first as Matty Ostrander scored his second of the tournament early but a determined England brought the side equal early in the second half when Ryan Dougherty scored his first of the campaign.
The other game saw Ireland squeeze past Brazil 1-0 in a spirited game that saw the Irish jump out in front as Joe Alessandro scored on a breakaway. Ireland defended well as Brazil pressed for the tie in second half they were unlucky not to equalize before the whistle blew to end the game.