Some of the top high school soccer players in the Metroplex are returning to Texas with a national championship in tow.
On Sunday, Solar 02 Castro completed an unbeaten run through the US Youth Soccer National Championships to win the boys under-17 division.
The squad features a handful of standouts from the Dallas area, including Lake Dallas junior Anthony Patti and seniors Brock Pope and Kaleb Irving, Allen junior Jackson Leavitt and senior Christopher Firch, Plano West junior Jackson Castro, Coppell senior Sebastian Blaas, Marcus senior Harvey Castro, Mesquite Horn junior Norberto Flores, Plano resident Ethan Luo, Mesquite senior Elias Martinez and Little Elm senior Jordan Munoz.
“We’ve been working all year for this title. From the beginning, we had been talking about this being our main goal,” Patti said. “We knew we had to be focused every practice, going at it every single day and fixing any critiques our coach gave us.”
That group teamed up to go 4-0-1 over six days of action at youth nationals, held at Overland Park, Kan., including a 1-0 shutout win over Virginia club team Arlington SA 2002 Red in Sunday's championship match. Jackson Castro netted the deciding goal in the 62nd minute to propel Solar to the victory.
Prior to Sunday, Solar paved its road to the finals with a win over Baltimore Celtic 02 (3-2), a scoreless draw against Washington Premier 2002 Black and wins over Coral Estates Strikers Blue (3-0) and Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (4-3).
“You can definitely tell how enthusiastic all the teams were at nationals,” Patti said. “They put everything on the line and I think every team out there was playing at its highest point of the season. I think everyone had the same mindset as us out there and that made it that much tougher to get through those teams.”
Marcus standout Harvey Castro chipped in three goals during the tournament, complemented by a pair from Jackson Castro and one from Patti. Mansfield product Johnathan Sauceda scored a team-best four.
With numerous Metroplex high schools represented all throughout Solar’s roster, the moment was all the more rewarding for club and high school teammates like Patti, Pope and Irving, who helped lead Lake Dallas to a regional finals appearance last season, or Leavitt and Firch, who were key contributors to Allen’s first-ever district championship campaign and a regional semifinal berth.
“It’s amazing. We’ve been playing on the same team ever since I was a little kid,” Patti said. “I see them every day in school and now that I can see them not just as best friends or high school teammates but also fellow national champions just feels amazing.”
Solar was one of several Dallas-area club soccer programs making the trip to Kansas. Other squads in action included FC Dallas 06 Premier (13U boys), D'Feeters 05 Black (14U girls, champions) FC Dallas 03 Premier (16U boys, semifinals), Solar 01 Stricker (18U boys, runner-up), FC Dallas 01 Premier (18U boys, semifinals), and FC Dallas Youth 00 (U19 boys, semifinals).
In fact, Solar 01 Stricker and FC Dallas 01 Premier squared off in the 18U semifinals, with Solar, led by former Coppell head coach Chris Stricker, edging FC Dallas, 3-2, on penalty kicks. They went on to drop a 7-0 decision to Georgia’s PPA KSA 01 Pro-Profile in the championship match, with local standouts like Frisco Wakeland’s Bryson Bezdek, Marcus’ Samuel Coad, Lake Dallas’ Julian Fernandez, Rowlett’s Carson Prestridge and Frisco Centennial’s Daniel Wilmore helping Solar to a national runner-up finish.
The FC Dallas 01 Premier semifinalists featured The Colony’s Jide Adesanya, Rowlett’s Kevin Adolfo, Lake Dallas’ Orlando Castro, Frisco Centennial’s Dan Chandler, Sachse’s Nathan Dominguez, Frisco’s Phoenix Ibanez, Marcus’ Dalton Lloyd, McKinney’s Gregory Lopez, Flower Mound’s Joe Perryman, Marcus’ Porter Pomykal, Carrollton RL Turner’s Esteban Ramirez and Rowlett’s Dalton Reyna.
Also qualifying for the national semifinals was FC Dallas Youth 00, which includes Allen’s Reed Berry, Frisco Lone Star’s Avery Fondren, Plano resident Malik Henry-Scott, Frisco Heritage’s Franco Ibanez, RL Turner’s Jeremie Jaime, Frisco Centennial’s Joe Nelson, Heritage’s Derek Norsworthy, Allen resident Harper Simmons, Frisco’s Brandon Torres and Centennial’s Ethan Unger. Overall, the club posted a 2-1-0 record in pool play before falling to Baltimore Celtic SC 00, 1-0, in the U19 semifinals.
With Sunday’s event highlighting another strenuous summer on the club soccer pitch, student-athletes now turn their sights toward either the upcoming year of high school soccer or the start of their respective college careers.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of this. I think it really helped me grow as a person and really developed me as a player,” Patti said. “It’s so big seeing how much dedication you have to put in to get the outcome you want and I think it’ll help a lot getting ready for my senior year.”