It came down to the wire, but Sporting AZ FC booked its place in the championship final of the United Premier Soccer League with a 2-1 victory over Santa Ana Winds FC in Arvada, Colo. Saturday night. Alejandro Aguilar’s late goal from distance was the difference.
The first half saw a flurry of chances on both sides, with Sporting largely absorbing pressure from the determined winners of the UPSL Western Conference.
In the second half there was more of the same, and Winds FC seemed the more likely to break through. That was until the 67th minute.
After a Noel Castillo corner kick was headed clear, Aguilar collected and took a hard shot from distance. The ball was mishandled by the Santa Ana goalkeeper, and Danny Arrubla pounced on the rebound to fire into the back of the net from short range.
Winds FC would not go quietly though, and a moment later Jordan Gorman took advantage of a rebound off the post to tie the match at one apiece.
Late on, with penalties looming in a condensed tournament format, a bouncing ball fell once again to the feet of Aguilar, and this time he would let the goalkeeper have none of it. The former Costa Rica international placed his half-volley screamer into the upper left corner of the net, sealing the win, and a date with Milwaukee Bavarian SC for the title.
“Believe it or not I always practice that kind of play,” said Aguilar. “I saw the ball, I hit it, and thank God it goes in.
“First of all, it was a tough game. First half, really, really hard for us. Second half we started to feel really good as a team.”
The UPSL National Championship match will be played Sunday, August 12, at 12:00 PM MDT (11:00 AM Arizona time) at the Jeffco North Area Athletic Complex.
Sporting AZ FC: Andrew Weber, David Paul (57’ - Danny Arellano), (c) Jon Guse, Dom Papa (51’ - Danny Arrubla, 90’ - Julien Dragomir), Mo Salama, Eijin Kishimoto, Tony Cascio, Noel Castillo, Paul LaMarca (51’ - David Alton), Alejandro Aguilar, Ismael Santana (84’ - Jose Ramos)
DNP: Chris Green