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Heredia's last minute PK lifts Yuma over Palm Springs in U23 match
The Under 23 Yuma All Stars couldn't have asked more a perfect way to end their game.
Omar Heredia blasted a penalty kick in the final minute of Saturday's 2012 Southwest Arizona Youth Soccer Association Yuma Invitational Cup, giving Yuma a 2-1 victory over the U23 Palm Spring All Stars.
“I knew it was the last minute, the ref had told me before,” Heredia said. “It was a lot of pressure but thankfully it did go in.
“As they called the PK, I knew I was going to have to shoot it — I got a little nervous. I was pretty confident after I saw the keeper go the other I way I was like ‘It's in.' I was just happy — happy for the team. We've practiced hard enough, so we deserve it.”
The Yuma All Stars showed off their hard work by receiving a crystal trophy at the end of the game, marking them as the U23 SWAYSA Yuma Invitational Cup champs.
“It feels really good,” Yuma coach Kenny Dale said. “I told our guys that we almost got the plaque — we didn't want to do that. It felt really good. I'm really excited for the guys and I want to thank Lester (Favish, SWAYSA president and organizer) and all the fans that came out to support us.”
Palm Springs was the first to strike, scoring in the 29th minute off the foot of Jonathan Martinez.
“We we're basically trying to get back in it the whole game,” Heredia said. “The team bounced back really well and coach really helped us out at the half with the talk and tactics.”
Yuma looked like a completely different team in the second half, despite trailing 1-0 at that point.
“I told our guys at halftime, we're OK. We just gave up one goal and not to worry about that, let's just get the next one — and we did,” Dale said.
Yuma was able to get on the board midway through the second half off a bicycle kick from Francisco Flores — a rebound of Yussif Bello Alhassan's corner kick. The score tied the game at 1-1.
“It was like a dream,” Dale said. “It was a stunner, I was really thrilled. And you create those corners by playing the ball in behind them. If you do that, you get corner after corner after corner. I thought we were by far the more quality side in the second half. We created so many more opportunities that we should've finished but ultimately we got them in.”
Yuma's success in the second half was due to a change in strategy, Dale said — and a calming of the nerves.
“We talked about playing more balls over the top instead of behind them and putting some pressure on their backs,” Dale said. “I think our guys were maybe nervous at the beginning. At the beginning those guys were strolling around like this was a walk in the park. I think our guys broke out of it on their own. They just got over the nerves in the second half. We were just able to come through.”
Heredia said he hopes the Yuma All Stars will get a chance to play in another event like this in the future because senior level games are hard to come by.
“All of these guys are locals and almost all of us are friends,” he said. “It was great for us to get something organized.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6880. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSErinRedmond.