Missing a number of players for a variety of reasons called for many players to step up and provide a lift for the team. Junior Daniel Lee would make his first career start at right midfield and sophomore Takjun Oh had his first start since returning from an injured ankle suffered earlier in the season. In goal, 8th grader Kevin Bae would make his second start of the season.
The first 20 minutes of the match saw Dalton play some of its best soccer of the season. The team dominated possession, requiring Kent to try and track down the ball all over the pitch. “At one point, Dalton strung together 20 straight passes without a turnover!” explained Coach Talbot after the match. The boys were playing phenomenal unselfish, confident and composed football which was incredible to witness. After a positional change which saw sophomore Taeho Kim move from left midfield to striker, the game really opened up. Freshman Jungmin Kim dispossessed the ball around midfield, found sophomore Phillip Yoon, and then tore down the left sideline forcing a defender to follow. This opened up Taeho who was able to make a run down the seam of the pitch with only one man on him. Phillip played a brilliant ball into space that Taeho was able to place in the lower left hand corner for the first goal of the match.
Moments later, sophomore Eric Kang won a 50-50 bouncing ball in the middle of the pitch with a header to Phillip Yoon. Phillip then used his speed to burst through the Kent center backs and drove the ball through the keeper's legs for the second and final Dalton goal.
The defense was smothering throughout the entire game. Goalkeeper Kevin Bae made two easy stops but was largely unchallenged. The back line largely forced Kent to take shots from well beyond the box. If the backline can continue to play at this rate, there is no doubt that they will be the best unit in the tournament. They picked up their record setting 5th shut out of the season.
The tournament starts at 8am on Saturday morning across the street from the high school at Gongchon Sports Park. As the number one seed, the Phoenix will play the winner of the 4th and 5th seed game at noon. We would greatly appreciate fans coming out to support them as they look for their first KAIAC tournament championship to add to their league championship. One more day. Two more matches. One goal. A championship.