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ABGC Sparks
Annandale, Virginia
22003
 
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Tuesday, March 30
Sparks win Jefferson Cup championship
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Click on logo to link to tournament results
The Annandale Sparks beat the Cincinnati Hammers Classics 1-0 March 28 in the Championship match of the prestigious Jefferson Cup. The Sparks scored midway through the match on a corner kick and posted their second shutout of the day to win the U-17 Premier Flight of the Richmond tournament.

Earlier that Sunday the Sparks advanced to the Finals by winning a penalty kick shootout to break a tie against the Herndon Heat. The semi-final match was scoreless after regulation and two 5-minute overtimes. The Sparks keeper saved Herndon's first penalty shot and Annandale went on to win the shootout 3-2.
   
The championship match pitted the Sparks against the Ohio powerhouse for the third time in two days. Hammers beat the Sparks 4-0 in the tournament opener. Because the third team in the Sparks-Cincinnati group failed to show up for the tournament, the Sparks were asked to play Cincinnati twice that day. The winner of the two matches would determine who was first and who was second in the group. In the second half of the Saturday rematch, Sparks began a comeback that led to a 3-1 win. Down 1-0, the Sparks scored on a direct kick from about 20 yards out near the right corner of the box. Then twice Sparks forwards converted on pretty breakaways.

Since the Sparks and Cincinnati split their matches, who was in first and second place went to tournament tiebreaker rules. Cincinnati outscored the Sparks 5-3 in the two matches, so it gained first place within the group.

The results meant that the second-place Sparks played Herndon in an 8 a.m. semi-final. Herndon had won its group on a tiebreaker rules after posting two 1-1 ties Saturday. All the matches in the Herndon Heat-Bruno United (R.I.)-Greensboro (N.C.) Twisters group ended up in ties. Greensboro and Bruno tied 3-3. As a result of giving up fewer goals, Herndon earned first place in its group. Bruno and Greensboro had a penalty kick shootout at 7 a.m. Sunday to determine who would play Cincinnati in the other semi-final. Greensboro won the shootout, but then lost the other semi to Cinncinati by 1-0. That Hammers win put them against the Sparks for the third time in the tournament.



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Sunday, August 31
Sparks champions of Nike Labor Day Shootout
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The Annandale Sparks won their first three matches at the Greensboro Nike Labor Day Shootout and were declared co-champions of the U-18 "Green" flight when a tremendous lightning and rain storm halted play midway through the championship match.

The Sparks were playing the hometown Greensboro Twisters Green when the thunderstorm hit. The half-time score was 0-0. After a prolonged stoppage -- and further delay expected -- the North Carolina tournament officials decided to award the championship to both teams in the prestigious college showcase.

Reston Milan, also playing up in the U-18 "Blue" Flight, was named co-champion of that group in the same manner. Milan was tied 2-2 with the U-18 Greensboro Twisters when the storm struck.

Going into the championship, the Sparks were the only team with three wins in the Green flight. Greensboro made it to the finals by posting two wins and a tie in a group that included the McLean Arsenal, Richmond Strikers Orange, and the Charlotte SC White (U-18).

The Sparks began play Saturday with a 1-0 win over Charlotte SC Blue. In the Saturday evening match, the Sparks beat the Norcross Magic Blue soundly, winning 5-0. Norcross is a U-18 team out of Georgia. Sunday morning the Sparks topped the U-18 Roanoke Star Classic by 3-0.

This is the second week in a row the Sparks posted three shutout wins in group play to earn their way to the tournament Finals. Last week in Richmond, the Sparks played in the "Gold" High School Division of the Virginia Girls Invitational. There the Sparks bowed in the championship to the BRYC Electra, last year's U-18 Virginia State Cup champs.


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Tuesday, March 30
Sparks win Stafford St. Pat's championship
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Click on medal to link to U-17 results
The Annandale Sparks beat the Seneca Saints 2-0 March 14 to win the U-17 Flight championship of the Stafford St. Patrick's Day Tournament. The victory over the Maryland WAGS Division 1 team was the third shutout in a row posted by the Sparks enroute to the championship.

Earlier that day the Sparks beat the Waldorf United 2-0 to gain a place in the Finals. Waldorf also is a WAGS Division 1 team this spring. In the first day of tournament action the Sparks topped the DC Stoddert Fire by a 4-0 score and were tied 1-1 in the first match of the spring by the Arlington Extreme. Arlington also is a Division 1 team this spring.

The St. Patrick's Day Tournament is the traditional preseason opening competition for many teams in the mid-Atlantic region. This is the second year in a row the Sparks advanced to the Finals.



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Wednesday, June 2
Sparks are Finalists in The Virginian
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Click on Logo to link to tournament Web site
The Annandale Sparks were Finalists in the U-17 "Virginia Cup" East Flight of the Memorial Day weekend Virginian Tournament. The Sparks won four matches before losing a heart-breaker in the Championship match to the Lanco United out of eastern Pennsylvania.

The Sparks scored early in the Monday Championship match and controlled run of play for most of the match. However, Lanco scored twice in the last few minutes of the match to retain the title it earned two years ago when it also topped the Sparks in the Championship match. The tournament was not played last year because of rain.

In the end Sunday, Lanco proved to be fresher. It played one less tournament match than the Sparks because of a forfeit in its group play. The Sparks also entered the match fatigued after playing a double overtime match late Sunday in the semi-final.

Lanco, out of Lancaster County, Pa., beat South Ohio powerhouse Cinncinati United Premier 2-1 in the other semi-final. In 2002, at the U-15 level, the Sparks and Lanco played into overtime in the Championship match before losing at the end of the second overtime on an own goal. Lanco plays out of the highest Division of the PAGS League in Philadelphia. In the Fall 2003 PAGS season, Lanco tied for 2nd place with Bux-Mont United in the 17-team division.

The Sparks advanced to Finals by prevailing over the McLean Arsenal in a penalty-kick tiebreaker shootout after 80 minutes of beautiful but scoreless regulation and double-overtime play.

The Sparks-McLean semi-final featured great defense and beautiful possession soccer as each side probed the opponent for scoring opportunities. Both sides had many, but both keepers came up with big saves or shots went just off the mark. In the shootout, the Sparks scored on four of five shots, with the other hitting the left post and bouncing just out. The Sparks keeper came up with a big stuffing save on the first McLean PK, and the fifth McLean shot went just high and left to give Annandale the victory.   

Earlier Sunday the Sparks knocked off the other undefeated team in its group to advance to the semi-final. The Sparks' 3-1 win over Beach FC Lightning put them against McLean. McLean beat the Arlington Extreme 2-1 Sunday to win its group. Both McLean and Arlington were undefeated going into that match. Strengthened by several guest players, the WAGS Division 1 McLean had a great tournament showing.

In the Sparks last match of Group B play Sunday morning, the Beach FC Lightning, rated by GOTsoccer.com's National Soccer Rankings as the #2 ranked U-17 Girls team in Virginia, fell behind 1-0 early in the match after the Sparks scored on a header goal off a beautiful cross from the outside midfielder. Beach tied it up 1-1 late in the first half. The second half was all Sparks, with Annandale pressuring and totally controlling play and scoring twice.   

On Saturday the Sparks posted two shutout wins. The Sparks opened against the New Jersey Freehold Flash with a 3-0 victory. Last weekend, Freehold advanced to the New Jersey State Cup semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion. The Sparks' afternoon performance against the Texas Pursuit '87 Blue Bandits was equally as dominating, although the score ended up 1-0. Pursuit '87 has been the South Texas "President's Cup" (their version of State Cup) semi-finalist the past two years.   
            


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Monday, August 25
Sparks are Finalist in Virginia Girls Invitational
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Click on logo to link to schedule
The Annandale Sparks posted three shutout wins en route to the Finals of the "Gold" High School Division of the Virginia Girls Invitational in Richmond Aug. 23-24, 2003. The string of wins against tough teams ended in the championship game, with the Sparks falling to the BRYC Electra. The Electra were the reigning Virginia U-18 State Cup champs at the time.

The Sparks began tournament action Saturday morning with a 1-0 win over the Dixie Demons out of Toronto, Canada. The Demons won their age group in the first-ever Canada Cup and are set to defend that title next weekend. They are a U-18 team.

Saturday afternoon the Sparks beat the Vista Screaming Eagles 2-0. The Eagles are a WAGS U-18 Division 1 team. The two wins put the Sparks in position to advance to Finals if they tied or beat the Westchester Flames on Sunday morning. The New York team was in second place in the flight after two games, posting a 5-0 win over Vista and a 3-3 tie with Canada.

Westchester had spent the summer playing as a team in the Mid-Atlantic Super-Y League. They came out hard and physical, knowing that they needed a win to advance and get a crack at the Electra. The Electra was dominating the other flight, posting winning margins of 7 goals and more.

The Sparks weathered some early flourishes from the bigger Westchester team. The Sparks then scored in the first half. Playing smart, possession soccer, the Sparks scored again in the second half and kept Westchester's long, counter-attack offense at bay. Combination play and some nice runs from the back kept the pressure on Westchester. The keeper's third shutout and the 2-0 win put the last two undefeated teams in the Finals.

Both teams put together scoring chances off passing and movement, and off corner kicks. Electra scored first about 25 minutes into the first half off nice, one-touch combination play. The State Champs scored twice midway into the second half within a one-minute time-frame, then held off Sparks attempts to be the first team to score on them in the tournament.

The Sparks have many new faces this fall and back-to-back stellar tournament results prove the team is much improved.


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Saturday, November 22
Sparks beat U-17 Greensboro champion in VCCL Showcase
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Click on logo to link to VCCL Web site
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The Annandale Sparks beat the Beach FC Lightning 2-1 in the VCCL College Showcase on Nov. 22. Though the purpose of the event was to showcase players before numerous college scouts in attendance, teams were clearly playing hard to win throughout the day. The victory was a quality win for the Sparks. Beach played in the Greensboro Nike Labor Day Tournament and won the top flight of the U-17 age group. The Sparks played up in that tournament, going unscored upon and undefeated to win the U-18 Flight.

The Sparks scored once in each half. The first goal was off a direct kick from about 25 yards out. The second was a converted corner kick.


   
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