Georgia Express FC
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U12B Black Crowned State Finalists

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Georgia Express finished our first year off in style, with the GXFC U12B Black team completing a great year as the State Rec Cup Finalist after taking a State Rec Cup District Championship.

Many of the teams at the State Rec Cup have been together for several years, and most are filled with U12 players. The U12B Black team had three U12 boys, seven U11’s, and one U10. Due to a late season injury to Ricky Van de Valle, the team headed to their District Round with only ten players (May 2-3).

A good win against a team from Winder was followed by a 3-1 victory against the Hall County Galaxy. Sunday morning, the boys wiped the sleep out of their eyes for a 4-0 win against the Fayette County Rovers, earning their place in their group’s Championship game. Awaiting them were the LSA Jaguars, a team that had won its three games by a combined 20-1 margin. Georgia Express took an early lead, and the first half ended 2-0 for Georgia Express. The second half was tight as the Jaguars played very hard, with the final score 4-2. The outcome was never in doubt. Our Georgia Express U12B Black team took the medals and headed to Columbus for the State Rec Cup (May 9-10).

The Black team made the trek to Columbus after school, driven down by chaperone Elizabeth Holmes and Team Manager Patti McGarty. Waiting for them in their first game was the Snellville Chargers, who had knocked the U12B Grey team out of their District Round. The Chargers defended well throughout the game until Colin Sather slotted home a corner kick with a near post run. It was enough for a 1-0 victory.

After a quick sandwich, Georgia Express played the defending State Champions, the Hinesville Gators. The boys quickly jumped on the Gators, with Luke del Balzo keeping a clean sheet for a 3-0 win. After a swimming and an early dinner, the team headed to see the new Star Trek movie before heading to bed.

Coach Randy Holmes surprised the boys Sunday morning right before the whistle as he’d juggled some long-standing commitments to make it to the Sunday game. It was a very big game, as the NASA Adrenaline could advance with a win. After a sluggish start to the game, the boys were only up 1-0 at halftime. They bounced back smartly in the second half, scoring two more goals for a 3-0 win and a place in the finals.

They were up against their nemesis, the South Dekalb Jaguars. The Jaguars had shocked the U12B Black team in a Fall tournament, putting ten goals on the board before the final whistle blew. Having a chance to get them on the pitch one more time was a motivator the entire Spring season. The final was a slugfest in the first half, with the U12B Black team defending and working hard on the counter attack. It was a stalemate until a fluke goal came from a punt from Luke that was volleyed back from midfield into the back of the net.

The boys were behind 1-0, and the lack of subs finally wore them down. Two more goals by the Jaguars were slotted home as Georgia Express tried to equalize. It was a 0-3 defeat to a great team.

What a terrific year it was for the Georgia Express U12B Black team. Several of the players joined the team only in the Spring season, and they showed tremendous improvement throughout the year. Coach Randy Holmes and Craig Cunningham, along with Coach Judd Frank and Team Manager Patti McGarty, can be very proud of this great accomplishment.

Congratulations to the Georgia Express FC U12 Boys Black team: Luke del Balzo, Ricky Van de Valle, Daniel McLendon, Allen Cunningham, Kyle Partain, Ted Cheng, Eddy Cheng, Colin Sather, Andrew Wemyss, Trevor Holmes, and Jack McGarty.