2013 Winter II Season

UNITED DROPS TO 17TH
United’s loss to the Thunder dropped the team from 10 to 17 in the latest USA Rank North Carolina rankings.  The Thunder moved up to 12th.  United had spent the entire season inside the top 15, and has spent the last seven months inside the top 20.

WINTER 2, 2013 ASSIST LEADERS:  Stephen Pratt was back for his first full season after injury and led all set ups with 10.  Colin Attarian, Logan Harris and Sota Hirasawa each had eight while Sam Sanger set up seven.

WINTER 2, 2013 ASSIST LEADERS: Stephen Pratt was back for his first full season after injury and led all set ups with 10. Colin Attarian, Logan Harris and Sota Hirasawa each had eight while Sam Sanger set up seven.

WINTER 2, 2013  SCORING LEADERS:  Sota Hirasawa finished the season strong, scoring in six of the last seven games.  He and Derrick Johnson tied with 11 goals on the season.  Nicholas McCullers continues to score and netted eight.

WINTER 2, 2013 SCORING LEADERS: Sota Hirasawa finished the season strong, scoring in six of the last seven games. He and Derrick Johnson tied with 11 goals on the season. Nicholas McCullers continues to score and netted eight.

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HE CAN FLY:  Patrick Hoffman kept United close in the second half.

HE CAN FLY: Patrick Hoffman kept United close in the second half.

For every save Patrick made, Nicholas, Sam and Stephen made impressive clearances, turning in some of the best performances of the season.

For every save Patrick made, Nicholas, Sam and Stephen made impressive clearances, turning in some of the best performances of the season.

The showdown for the league title leaned heavily toward the CASL Thunder Friday night as the XL Soccer World Winter II season ended.  United, down six players, put up a great effort but fell short, dropping to the Thunder, 9-2.

Early on United had no answer for the Thunder midfield and got behind 4-0 before scoring.  Abdul Elmorsi drove a shot from the left third line off of a Sota Hirasawa shot to get the Reds on the board.  Brock Waters and George Bournazian also pressured but couldn’t convert.  The defense had its hands full but, as the game went on, found its rhythm.

The second half proved much better for United.  Ethan Sheflin, Stephen Pratt, Sam Sanger and Nicholas McCullers teamed up with Hirasawa and Elmorsi to stop the Thunder.  Patrick Hoffman played arguably his best half in a United uniform, making acrobatic save after save while Pratt, McCullers and the rest of the United defense stood strong.  Colin Attarian passed to Sota Hirasawa, who ran around almost the whole field before converting United’s final goal on the season.

And what a season it was.  The loss was United’s first in 2013.  The team ran through the rest of the league before facing the Thunder, moving as high as number 10 in the state and holding down first place for most of the season.  United finishes the season 7-1 with a plus 51 goal differential.  United scored 78 goals this season.  Hirasawa and Derrick Johnson set the pace, each scoring 11.  Stephen Pratt led all of the set up men, tallying 10 assists.  Logan Harris had eight while Colin Attarian, Sota Hirasawa and Sam Sanger all set up seven.

United Pregame Interviews: Winter II 2013 Championship vs. CASL Thunder from Holly Springs United on Vimeo.

Holly Springs United soccer

Through week seven, XL’s top two teams are on a collision course. Here’s how they stack up. Remember that the Thunder have one more game to play before facing United. Like opponents? There are four. Versus Munich: United 10-2, Thunder 12-5; versus the Defenders: United 15-1, Thunder 10-7; versus the Revolution: United 9-6, Thunder 4-1; versus the Rottweilers: United 13-3, Thunder 8-0.  The Thunder face the Revolution again before kickoff against United.

WHAT IF THEY TIE?
If United (7-0) defeats the Thunder (6-0) United is Winter II league champion.  If the Thunder win, it is the league champion.  Easy.  But what if the two teams tie?  There is no sudden death, golden goal or shootout.  If the teams tie it goes down to a set of tie breaking procedures based on the established XL rules.  First tie breaker is head-to-head results.  XLIn this case, the teams would have tied.  Second tie breaker is most wins.  Right now, United would win the tie breaker because it has seven wins to the Thunder’s six, but the Thunder still have one more game remaining (against the Revolution).  Assuming that the Thunder win that game, again, both teams would be tied.  The third tie breaking rule is goal differential.  Right now, United is ahead by five.  What if the Thunder beat the Revolution by five goals?  The fourth tie breaker is least goals given up.  United has given up 18 goals this season to the Thunder’s 14.  Advantage in that category is to the Thunder.  But what happens if the Thunder beat the Revolution 9-4?  There are no more tie breaking rules after rule four.  Shootout?

Holly Springs United Soccer

Patrick Hoffman gets fancy with a pool shot (that he missed, left) while Patrick, Nicholas, Stephen, Colin and Nico take a moment to pose for the camera at United’s billiards outing Sunday afternoon.

HOLLY SPRINGS UNITED SOCCER

United players pose after a second unbeaten season in XL.

BEEN THERE BEFORE…
The last time United won a league championship?  Winter, 2011.  In that season, United was dominant, scoring 82 goals and only giving up 12.  United was in a similar situation to what it is in today.  The team was 6-0 headed into the final game of the season, what turned out to be the league championship against the unbeaten FC Cary Thunder.  On February 21, 2011, United gave up more goals in a half than it had in any other game all season, and it wasn’t until Nico Gutierrez fed Zach Gault who scored to put exclamation mark on the season.  Fast forward to 2013.  United and another unbeaten Thunder team have emerged unbeaten against much stronger competition than in 2011.   With the exception of Gault, Raphael Kim and Brandon Boyd, the entire 2011 championship team is on the 2013 roster.   Will United be able to repeat the feat they accomplished in 2011?  Find out Friday night.

ON THE VERGE:  UNITED DOWNS MUNICH; WILL PLAY FOR LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
The last time United and Munich faced off, United needed three goals to come from behind to win, 5-4.  Tonight United took the drama out of the game early, scoring three goals quickly en route to a 10-2 victory.

Holly Springs United soccer

Brock Waters and Sota Hirasawa both have been a part of a resurgent United defense.

As with the last two games, United’s defense has been the story of the game.  Led by Sam Sanger, Ethan Sheflin, Sota Hirasawa, Nicholas McCullers, Stephen Pratt, Abdul Elmorsi, and Patrick Hoffman, United has only given up three goals in the last three weeks.  The defense once again stood strong and fed the offense.  Nicholas McCullers started the scoring when he took a pass from team assist leader Stephen Pratt.  Sam Sanger fed Brock Waters for the second goal and Sota passed to Stephen for goal three.  Munich scored to cut the

Holly Springs United Soccer

Colin Attarian dribbles away from a Munich player.

lead to 3-1 but the United offense kept firing.  Hirasawa fed Pratt for a second goal. Colin Attarian got the ball to McCullers and United led at half, 5-1.

United kept the pressure up in the second half when long-time teammates Pratt and Waters teamed up again.  Hirasawa scored his 12th goal of the season unassisted in what’s becoming a customary rocket from midfield.  Waters scored again when Sanger set up a long assist from the defense.  Patrick Hoffman came out of goal to score the final two goals, one from Sota and the other from Attarian.

The victory keeps United unbeaten against Munich and XL teams, but more importantly, sets the team up for a winner-take-all final against the unbeaten Thunder for a de-facto Winter II championship game Friday night.

UNITED VS. MUNICH:  ROUND 2
The last time United faced off against XL Munich, Munich put United on its heels by coming out in full attack mode and racing out to a 2-0 lead.  It was the first time all season that United failed to score first and, even when United clawed back and took the lead, Munich kept firing, retaking the lead late in the game.  Logan Harris and Derrick Johnson’s goals, combined with heroic saves from Patrick Hoffman, got United the hard-fought 5-4 win in a battle of two top 15 teams in the state.  Fast forward to Friday when the teams meet again.  This season Munich has fallen on hard times, sitting in ninth place and only garnering a tie thus far.  United will once again be down several players as it tries to stay unbeaten (11-0) against XL teams and unbeaten (6-0) for the Winter II season.  If United manages to get past Munich, it will set up a de facto league championship game the following week against the unbeaten (6-0) Thunder.

SCORING STATS WITH TWO GAMES REMAINING
Once again United is putting on an offensive clinic indoors.  The team has exploded for 59 goals, which is first among all teams thus far this season.  While it is 20 goals behind last season’s record tally, the competition has been much stronger.  United has faced four teams so far that are classified as challenge or classic, and has still put up impressive numbers.  Going into the final two games of the season, Sota Hirasawa and Derrick Johnson are tied with 11 goals apiece.  Martin Benitez is in second with eight, and Nicholas McCullers and Logan Harris are tied in third with six in a season where every United player has scored.  Who is setting up all of those goals?  Stephen Pratt and Logan Harris each have eight assists.  Martin Benitez has six assists and Colin Attarian, Nico Gutierrez and Sam Sanger have five assists each.  What makes each player’s performance even more amazing is that, with the exception of Nicholas, each of the players has missed at least one game, with Nico missing four and Colin missing three.  Sam has five assists while playing on defense.

Speaking of defense, one thing that does not show up in the stats is the contribution that the defense has made to give the offense a chance to score.  Ethan Sheflin and Sanger have been solid on defense.  Hirasawa, Harris, Pratt, McCullers, Benitez and Attarian have all spent time on defense.  What’s also impressive is that the defense has done an amazing job while Chris Brown, one of United’s defensive leaders, has been out with a broken hand.  And Patrick Hoffman has made several key saves when needed, leading the goal tending core that also includes Johnson and Pratt.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK SEVEN
There are now only two teams that can claim the league title at the conclusion of Winter II:  the Thunder and United.  Both teams are unbeaten (6-0) after United defeated the Pumas (11-0) and Thunder downed the Defenders (10-7).   The Devils, at best, could finish in a tie for second, as they tied Papa Lou’s, 5-5, to move to 5-1-1.  The Revolution could also finish second by winning out.  The complete standings are here.

DECLAWED:  Stephen Pratt attacks the midfield.

DECLAWED: Stephen Pratt attacks the midfield.

DECLAWED:  UNITED TAMES PUMAS
Down most of United’s scorers, United was supposed to have a difficult time scoring against the CASL Pumas.  But they got offense from everywhere Friday night, downing the Pumas 11-0 and inching closer to a special season.

Like last week against the Hawks, the new United defensive formation stifled the opponent’s offense.  Ethan Sheflin, Sam Sanger, Sota Hirasawa, Stephen Pratt, Colin Attarian and Nicholas McCullers rotated through the defense in front of Patrick Hoffman, who had his first shut out of the season.  The United offense heated up early when Hirasawa scored of of a Colin Attarian pass.  Stephen Pratt and Colin Attarian routinely battle it out for team assist leader and both were setting up goals against the Pumas.  Attarian had a pair of assists and Pratt ran off four assists, including three consecutive.  Nicholas McCullers took a pair of Stephen Pratt passes for a 3-0 lead.  Pratt then dumped off a pass for Colin Attarian.  Colin sent a cross to Sota for a goal and Sota did the same for Sam Sanger.  United led 6-0 at half.

The second half produced five more United goals.  Sota scored the first three, with two coming from Sam and one from Stephen.  Patrick Hoffman came out of net and scored off of a Nicholas McCullers pass.  Hirasawa scored the final goal of the night when Hoffman crossed it to him. For Sota it is his 11th goal on the season, tying him with Derrick Johnson for the team lead.

It was the first meeting between United and the Pumas.  United is 6-0 headed into a bye week before closing the season with Munich and a potential showdown with the Thunder.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK SIX
It’s coming down to a three-team race after six weeks of the Winter II season.  United and the Thunder are still perfect at 5-0 and the Devils are 4-1.  United’s victory over the Hawks, and the Thunder’s victory over the Revolution, leave the Hawks and Revolution with two losses each.  Both teams have two games remaining and play each other this weekend.  The loser will be mathematically eliminated.  The Defenders (3-2) and Papa Lou’s (2-2-1) also both have just two losses but would lose out on tie breakers because of losses to either the Hawks or Thunder.  United or the Thunder could win the league by winning out.  The two play each other on the last game of the season.  The Devils need some help to win the league.  They need both United and the Thunder to lose and then would need to have more points than both teams.  The Devils (Defenders, Papa Lou’s, Rottweilers, Hawks) have four games remaining while United (Pumas, Munich, Thunder) and the Thunder (Defenders, Revolution, United) have three each.  The complete standings are here.

SOARING

The fourth time is the charm.  United, down Chris, Colin, Nico and Sam, faced the hardest team yet this season and another huge challenge to its perfect record in the Cary Hawks on Friday night.  United had never beaten the Hawks and had lost by an aggregate 18-5 over the previous games.  The last time they met United was also unbeaten and lost, 7-3.  United exorcised the past thanks to a phenomenal defensive effort and timely goals, running up a 5-0 lead on the Hawks before winning, 6-3.
It was the defense that won the game.  Logan Harris, Stephen Pratt, Ethan Sheflin and Sota Hirasawa usually receive help from Sam Sanger and Chris Brown.  With Sam and Chris gone, Nicholas McCullers stepped up and into the defensive role.  The Hawks had no answer to the United defense that made adjustments based on the last time the two teams played and were unable to do the give and go that the Hawks worked so well in that game.  Meanwhile, Derrick Johnson started the scoring when he took a pass from Martin Benitez to go up, 1-0.  George Bournazian scored next, off of a Pratt pass.  The Hawks took a shot that drilled Hirasawa in the ankle.  As Sota was trying to leave, he blocked another Hawk shot.  Between Sota’s deflections, and several key saves by Patrick Hoffman, United held a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The second half produced more goals.  Bournazian scored again, off of a Benetiz pass and then scored off of a set play.  Martin scored when George set him up.  Nicholas McCullers scored an unassisted goal.  The Hawks caught a little rhythm and scored their first goal with just eight minutes remaining, but they followed it up with two more to cut the lead to 5-3.  Derrick Johnson took the momentum back and sealed the game with the final goal of the night and United won, 6-3.
The Hawks are one of only two CASL teams to defeat United, which moves to 21-4 all-time against CASL teams.  The other team to beat United happens to be the other unbeaten in the Winter II league, the Cary Thunder.  United and the Thunder meet on March 8, the last game of the season.  United is 5-0.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK FIVE
There are now only two unbeaten teams remaining in what’s shaping up to be a great finish in a competitive indoor league.  United knocked the JUSA Tazmanian Devils from the unbeaten club by virtue of a 5-3 victory Friday night.  The Thunder are still unbeaten, but didn’t play.  The Devils wasted no time in getting back to it, defeating Newcastle 10-5 Saturday night.  The Devils have played the most games and are tied with United in points (12).
Second place is equally competitive.  The Hawks and Revolution have each played three and are tied with six points.  The Defenders and Rottweilers by the Door have played more games and also have six points.  United has already beaten the Revolution and has a huge game against the Hawks, a team that it’s never beaten, Friday night.

The complete standings are here.

WHEW!  UNITED SQUEAKS BY DEVILS TO REMAIN PERFECT

Ethan Sheflin battles for the ball against a Devil player while Sota Hirasawa looks on.  Ethan scored a pair of goals and Sota scored one.

Ethan Sheflin battles for the ball against a Devil player while Sota Hirasawa looks on. Ethan scored a pair of goals and Sota scored one.

United and the JUSA Tasmanian Devils faced off in a battle of two of the three remaining unbeatens in the XL Winter II season.  United, down most of its offensive firepower, looked for team members to step up, and that’s exactly what happened, starting when Martin Benitez sent a no-look heel pass to a breaking Nicholas McCullers.  McCullers drove the shot into the top left corner of the net from just inside midfield and United took a 1-0 lead.  Colin Attarian was back from the flu and crossed to Ethan Sheflin, also returning from vacation, to score and put United up, 2-0.

But the Devils were unbeaten for a reason, and they came back, scoring to cut the lead to 2-1 and then pushing for the equalizer before halftime.  They would have gotten it if it weren’t for Patrick Hoffman, who made save after save in front of a defense led by Sam Sanger, Sota Hirasawa, Sheflin and Stephen Pratt.

United struck first in the second half.  Stephen Pratt placed a perfect ball for Benitez for a goal.  Benitez then set up Sheflin for a goal.  Back came the Devils, scoring the next two,  cutting the lead to one and taking the momentum of the game.  That changed moments later when Sota Hirasawa drove a rocket from midfield into the bottom right corner of the net.

United had to kill off a penalty late in the second half when Attarian was called for a trip.  The defense stepped up and, for the first time, killed off a complete penalty.  United had only one penalty kill attempt prior to the game against the Devils.  That was toward the end of the game with TFC Orange in 2011 and, in that game, the team gave up a goal while trying to get the equalizer.

United moves to 4-0 and a showdown with its nemesis, the Cary Hawks.

UNITED’S GAME VERSUS THE THUNDER HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 8:15PM
Still remainingthunder before that game for United are games with the unbeaten Devils (3-0) this Friday, the Cary Hawks (3-1) on February 8, the Pumas (0-3) on February 15 and XL Munich (2-1-1) on March 1.  United has never faced the Devils or Pumas and is winless (0-3) all-time against the Hawks.  United and Munich had a great game last season in which United came from behind to win, 5-4.  The Thunder only have three games remaining before United, including Munich (2-1-1) on Saturday, the Defenders (1-2) and the Revolution (2-1).  The Devils, Thunder and United are the only remaining unbeaten teams.  United faces the Devils on Friday; the Devils and Thunder do not play.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: UNITED NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL AGAINST ALL-GIRL TEAMS

Colin challenged for a ball in the 2007 Mary Myers Memorial against national power NLA Orange.

Colin challenged for a ball in the 2007 Mary Myers Memorial against national power NLA Orange.

United has faced a lot of co-ed teams and has played in several co-ed leagues.  Playing against teams with girls on it is nothing new.  Playing

United goalie Max Brooks makes the save while Nico Gutierrez, Colin Attarian and Ethan Sheflin stand by.

United goalie Max Brooks makes the save while Nico Gutierrez, Colin Attarian and Ethan Sheflin stand by.

an all-girl team?  That’s a different story.  In 10 years, it’s only happened six times.  How has United fared in those six games?  Mixed results.  And the last time United faced an unbeaten all-girls team? United got blown out. It was the second game of the 2007 season. A healthy United faced unbeaten and national indoor semifinalist Next Level Orange at the Mary Myers Memorial tournament and proceeded to lose, 11-0.

Patrick Hoffman tries to beat two Tsunami defenders at the SASL Burn tournament.  United was much bigger than the Tsunamis, but they made up for it with skill.

Patrick Hoffman tries to beat two Tsunami defenders at the SASL Burn tournament. United was much bigger than the Tsunamis, but they made up for it with skill.

Fast forward to November 16, 2008.  United was en route to a finalist position at the SASL Burn tournament and found itself playing the all-girl SASL Tsunamis.  United won, 2-1 in a very close game that saw the reds give up a goal on a trick corner kick play.   United has used the play that they learned that day several times since then.  United and the Tsunamis would play twice more indoors, with United winning both of those contests, 7-0 and, in 2011, coming from 2-0 down to win, 5-2.

Sam Sanger move the ball against a PMYSA United player at the State Games.

Sam Sanger move the ball against a PMYSA United player at the State Games.

In recent seasons United has had better success against all-girl teams.  United’s beaten the CASL Flares and Rottweilers by the Door.  United and the Devils have only played, and beaten, one like opponent, XL Newcastle.  Both teams have matches remaining with the Cary Hawks while United faces another all-girls team, the CASL Pumas, and XL Munich to end the season.

johnston unitedNEXT UP FOR UNITED:  UNBEATEN DEVILS
United will face fellow unbeaten JUSA Tasmanian Devils Friday at XL Soccer World.  The Devils take place of the original match scheduled against Ravenscroft.  Ravenscroft backed out of the league before the first game and other league opponents have been filling the spot.  The Devils, Thunder and United are all tied atop the league standings, unbeaten at 3-0.  JUSA has defeated their TBA spot, XL Newcastle and had a convincing 6-2 victory over the CASL Pumas, the U15 CASL challenge champions.  The Devils and United have never faced each other, and United has had mixed results against Clayton-area teams.  In 2007 United began a series with the Cleveland Bradford Royal Railhawks, winning two, including at the SASL Burn tournament, and losing one.  United was expecting the East Wake Twisters on February 28, 2010, but instead found itself in a battle versus the Cleveland United in a game that United came into 6-0 and found itself trailing with less than a minute remaining.  With less than 10 seconds remaining Abdul Elmorsi made a save and got hurt but Colin Attarian was there to clear the rebound and send it to a breaking Nico Gutierrez, who scored to tie the game with just six seconds left on the clock.  United’s one other match against a JUSA team was when it traveled to Clayton and blitzed the Cobras, 9-0.

STORMED!  The Thunder didn’t get United.  The ice did.  United’s game vs. the Thunder has been postponed due to the weather.

THEY MEET AGAIN:  UNITED’S HISTORY VERSUS THE THUNDER
For a non-conference rival, when United and the Thunderbolts met there was always a lot on the line.  United and the Thunder haven’t played recently, but the teams are not strangers to each other either.  They’ve met three times and all three times both teams were undefeated when they met.

DAGGERS!  Ethan Sheflin reacts to his cross on a corner that found Colin Attarian for the go-ahead goal in April, 2010.  Nico Gutierrez and Martin Benitez congratulate Colin on the left.  United would win, 2-0, notching the only victory in the CASL-TYSC Friendlies.

DAGGERS! Ethan Sheflin reacts to his cross on a corner that found Colin Attarian for the go-ahead goal in April, 2009. Nico Gutierrez, Wrenn Pallas and Martin Benitez congratulate Colin on the left. United would win, 2-0, notching the only victory in the CASL-TYSC Friendlies.

Patrick Hoffman makes a save against the Thunderbolts in 2010 while Nico Gutierrez (3, left) and Wrenn Pallas (right) stand guard.

Patrick Hoffman makes a save against the Thunderbolts in 2010 while Nico Gutierrez (3, left) and Wrenn Pallas (right) stand guard.

The teams first faced each other on April 27, 2009, as

part of the CASL-TYSC Friendlies between the top two teams of each league:  Rampage, Satellites, Thunderbolts and United.  On that night, midway through the season, United went to Cary as the two-time TYSC Champion and both teams were rolling through their season.  Colin Attarian scored off of an Ethan Sheflin corner kick and Nico Gutierrez sent a corner to Martin Benitez, and United won,

Nico Gutierrez moved around a Thunderbolt player when they met in 2010.  Gutierrez has scored twice against the Thunderbolts.

Nico Gutierrez moved around a Thunderbolt player when they met in 2010. Gutierrez has scored twice against the Thunderbolts.

2-0, notching the only victory in the series (all other games were tied).  The teams faced each other twice in 2010.  They squared off in the season opener where the Thunderbolts blitzed United, 5-0, becoming one of only two CASL teams to have beaten United (the other being the Cary Hawks).  United faced the ‘Bolts again midway through the fall season, with Zach in a boot, and won, 4-2, powered by goals from Nico, Ethan, Colin and Wrenn.  On Friday, they will meet again, and again both teams will be unbeaten.  United owns a come from behind victory over the Revolution as a signature victory this season and is leading in point differential while the Thunder have only given up one goal all season, including a victory over the reigning champion Hawks.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK THREE
There are now only three remaining unbeatens in the 12 team league:  United, the Thunder and the Tasmanian Devils.  United is 3-0 thanks to the victory over the Rottweilers, but the Thunder and Devils records might even be more impressive.  The Thunder downed the previously-unbeaten and reigning champion Cary Hawks 4-1 while the Devils, an all girls team, dispatched CASL U15 girls challenge champion Pumas 6-2.  A showdown looms between the Thunder and United as the teams face off Friday, while the Devils meet the Defenders.  The complete standings are here.

LOGAN, MARTIN, UNITED DEFENSE CLOSES DOOR ON ROTTWEILERS
United brought its undefeated record into the game against the Rottweilers by the Door down several players but with a strong intensity, controlling most of the early play en route to a 13-3 victory Friday night at XL Soccer World.

Missing Colin and Chris with the flu, Nico to a knee and Ethan to a vacation, United found strong play from Logan Harris, who was involved in seven of United’s goals, and a defense led by Sam Sanger, Stephen Pratt, Sota Hirasawa and Patrick Hoffman, who kept the Rottweilers at bay for most of the game.

SotaEarly on, Harris started the scoring off of a Hirasawa pass.  But the Rottweilers answered off of a free kick.  United controlled the momentum, but like last season’s game, the Rottweiler goalie stood on his head, keeping shot after shot out of the net.  United scored again to go up 2-1 when Derrick Johnson took a Stephen Pratt pass to convert.  Martin Benetiz scored when Sam Sanger crossed the field.  Hirasawa had a pretty goal when Pratt volleyed the ball across the net and Hirasawa headed it in.  Harris scored again when he received a Nicholas McCullers pass.  Logan scored again, off of a Benetiz pass before Martin scored an unassisted tally.   But it was the Rottweilers that got the last goal in, scoring on a second free kick 20 seconds before half.

United mixed positions up in the second half but continued to score.  Johnson scored from Harris.  Benetiz scored from Pratt.  McCullers got on the score sheet after converting a pass from Harris.  Harris scored again from Benetiz.  Pratt scored the final two goals off of passes from Harris and McCullers respectively.

United moves to 3-0 on the winter II season and renews its rivalry with the unbeaten Thunder next Friday.  United owns a 3-1 record over the Thunder, winning the last match in 2010, 5-2, but losing 5-0 in the previous match.  The Thunder defeated the Hawks 4-1 earlier in the night and are also 3-0.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK 2

The Thunder are the perfect storm after week 2, shutting out the Rottweilers, 8-0.  The Thunder have yet to be scored upon and own the point differential over fellow unbeatens United, the Hawks and the Tasmanian Devils.  United and the Devils are 2-0 while the Hawks, with a bye week, are 1-0.  The complete standings are here.  Four teams are ranked the Soccer In College North Carolina Top 40.  United leads the way at number 12, followed by the Hawks at 18, Thunder at 24 and XL Munich at 40.

AWAKEN THE LION:  UNITED ROARS BACK TO DOWN REVOLUTION, 9-6
United was in all kinds of trouble at halftime of its game against the CASL Revolution Friday night.  The team was down 4-1 and without Colin Attarian, Martin Benitez and Stephen Pratt, who combined were involved in eight of the 15 goals that the team had scored in its last ga

Bump and Run:  Ethan Sheflin and the Revolution were banging off the boards all night.

Bump and Run: Ethan Sheflin and the Revolution were banging off the boards all night.

me.  The defense, United’s strong point, had given up four goals to a Revolution team that used the walls to make it seem like they were on a power play for the entire half, constantly having an open man, and converting on several shots.  If the team was going to come back and keep its perfect record in tact, it was going to take a huge effort, a change in strategy and a belief that they could do it.  To a player, the team delivered in all three areas.

Derrick and Nico were responsible for six goals in fueling the United comeback.

Derrick and Nico were responsible for six goals in fueling the United comeback.

Starting on defense, Logan Harris, Chris Brown, Ethan Sheflin, Sam Sanger and Sota Hirasawa locked in and took away the passing lanes that the Revolution were exploiting in the first half.  When Nicholas McCullers sprang Harris for a run, Logan capitalized, and United had cut the lead to 4-2.  But the Revolution were not going to make it easy and scored to go ahead 5-2.  That score held until a little over 12 minutes left in the game when the United offense exploded.  Derrick Johnson took a Nico Gutierrez pass to cut the score to 5-3.  Gutierrez scored off of a set play moments after when a Revolution player sent the ball into the netting.  Derrick scored again from a Gutierrez pass and the United players could feel the momentum swing.  With the game tied, the intensity level went up, with both teams banging along the boards looking for the go-ahead goal.  That goal came for United off of a set play.  Logan Harris passed to a breaking Sota Hirasawa and United was ahead for good.  Sota scored again off of a pass from Derrick Johnson.  With less than two minutes left the Revolution scored to cut the lead to one, but United was not to be denied.  Gutierrez scored again, off of another pass from Harris and then Sanger sent a pass across the field to a Wide open Derrick Johnson to end the scoring.  With under 20 seconds left the Revolution had a great scoring chance and drove a rocket shot on Patrick Hoffman, who made the save before Chris Brown cleared the ball, and when the dust settled, United was 2-0, and had outscored the Revolution 8-2 in the second half.

Logan Harris, Derrick Johnson and Nico Gutierrez come together to celebrate Nico's goal.  Nico received a pass from Logan to convert the eventual game-winner.

Logan Harris, Derrick Johnson and Nico Gutierrez come together to celebrate Nico’s goal. Nico received a pass from Logan to convert the eventual game-winner.

The game was the first time that United and the Revolution have met and also marked United’s 2oth win against a CASL team.  United is 20-4 all-time against CASL teams, with three losses to the Hawks and one to the Thunderbolts.  United faces both of those teams later in the season, but first, the Rottweilers by the Door on Friday.

WHERE THEY STAND:  WEEK ONE
United leads the pack based on its 15 goal output Sunday night.  While the team leads in scoring, its tied with several teams for first place, including the Thunder, Hawks and Revolution from the Capital Area Soccer League, the Rottweilers by the Door and the Tasmanian Devils from JUSA.  Of those teams, United is the only team that will face every one of the others, starting with the Revolution on Friday.  The complete standings are here.

Multi-goal nights from Derrick, Colin, Martin propel United past Defenders
United’s 2013 got off to an inauspicious start as the CASL Defenders opened the game with a goal on the team’s first shot and, in less than a minute, United found itself trailing in the game.  But that was the last shot that Patrick Hoffman would let by as the team settled down and took control, sending several shots toward the Defender net, and firming up the defense, before Nico Gutierrez got the equalizer from a Logan Harris pass.  From that point, the United legs connected, propelled by multiple goals from Derrick Johnson, Colin Attarian and Martin Benitez, and goals by every other field player, en route to a 15-1 victory.

Johnson put United ahead 2-1, and then 3-1, when Ethan Sheflin sent two consecutive balls Johnson’s way.  Colin Attarian drove a rocket into the net from a Gutierrez pass.  Benitez scored next, also off of a Gutierrez pass.  Harris scored to end the half’s scoring when he shot a ball sent across the mouth of the net from Sota Hirasawa.  United went into half up, 6-1.

Logan Harris gives Ethan Sheflin a pat on the back after Ethan converted for his first goal of the season.

Logan Harris gives Ethan Sheflin a pat on the back after Ethan converted for his first goal of the season.

The second half was dominated by United as multiple players scored.  Benitez scored the next two.  The first came from Gutierrez, who tallied three assists on the night.  The second came off of a free kick.  Chris Brown got on the score sheet when he converted a pass from Harris.  Stephen Pratt was next to score, off of a Nicholas McCullers pass.  Nicholas scored when he drove in a Colin Attarian pass.   Ethan Sheflin was next, scoring from Hirasawa.  Colin scored again, this time from Sam Sanger.  Colin returned the favor with a pass to Sam, who converted.  For Colin, it was a two goal, two assist night.   Sota ended the scoring when he converted a pass from Brown.

United is 1-0 and tied for first with a slew of teams, including the CASL Revolution, a challenge team that United faces on Friday.

HOLLY SPRINGS UNITED 2012 RECAP from Holly Springs United on Vimeo.

REMATCH WITH HAWKS, MUNICH, GAMES AGAINST RAVENSCROFT AND TYSC ON HORIZON
Wondering who United will play during the Winter II season?  12 teams are in the field and United’s schedule is one of the hardest.  In addition to facing two of the top three teams from Winter I (United being the third), United will face Ravenscroft High School and renew its rivalry with the Cary Thunderbolts, which have shortened their name to the Thunder, as well as two other CASL challenge teams including the Pumas, first place in the CASL challenge girls division.  The season starts Sunday against the CASL Defenders.  The complete schedule is here.

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