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14U soccer: Worthington has dominated the competition

ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington 14U’s Anthony Euceda (left) tries to keep the ball away from teammate Jonathan Keodouangsy during warm-ups Tuesday at practice. Worthington will begin play at the state tournament on Sunday.

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Futbol Club’s 14U team is in need of some worthy competition.

That has been hard to come by thus far in 2014. Worthington is currently 14-0 and has allowed only four goals — never more than one in a game — all season. Offensively, it has scored more than 100.

“We’re looking for some competition,” head coach Jorge Duron said. “We’ve blown out the competition in every game so far. Our closest game so far was 6-0 or 6-1, something like that.”

If the club is to find a team that will put it to the test, that is most likely to happen next week at the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association State Tournament in Shakopee. It qualified for state over the weekend when it pounded New Ulm and Le Sueur by scores of 13-1 and 7-0 at the district tournament. Worthington will open state tournament play at 1 p.m. Sunday against Owatonna. If it wins that game, it will play on Tuesday with a possible trip to the state championship on Saturday, July 26.

Going to state and winning has been the team’s mission from the start of the season. Last year, Worthington FC qualified for the state tournament but tied its opening round game against the eventual state champions. Though it won the next two games, all but a few members of that squad are back and Duron said his team feels like it has unfinished business to take care of.

“These kids weren’t happy with the results from last year,” Duron said. “They’ve been talking all year about winning state. I think they can get it.”

Duron, a Worthington High graduate who now plays soccer at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, N.Y., said what sets this year’s team apart from the competition is its chemistry. Most of the kids have been playing together for years already, and he said that can be seen in how much it has improved in just the past year.

“I think they’re a lot better,” he said. “They communicate better, they touch the ball better, they move around and make space for themselves; they play with joy. I think that’s what makes them really good. They have a lot of individual skills and they do a great job talking to each other, from the defenders to the midfielders to the forwards and even the goalkeeper. But really they just love playing and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why this game is so beautiful.”

It’s that love for the game that puts Duron’s mind at ease when he thinks about his team’s ability to adjust to the higher level of competition at the state tournament. Throughout the season, during the numerous double-digit victories Worthington FC has collected, he said it has been preparing for state. Even when it has been ahead by six, seven, eight or even more goals, he has not seen any letdown amongst his players. For him, they have been a joy to coach and to be around during his time home for the summer.

“I’m trying to give them the best from what I’ve learned in school, college, tryouts that I’ve been to,” Duron said. “All of that has helped me so I try to give that to these kids. It’s really all about the kids. I love to see them happy.”

He hopes his team will stay that way by accomplishing its year-long goal of winning the state tournament. Although he admitted that he and many members of the team will be disappointed if they return to Worthington without the title, the team realizes that, even in defeat, life will go on and the team will have a chance again next year.

But if Worthington FC continues to play the way it has all summer, that shouldn’t be an issue.

“(They need to) just keep playing how they always play,” Duron said. “They have a good mindset and they never give up on a play. That’s when everything else kicks in. The joy, the skills, everything.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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