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Super Y-League Top Performers
Fury player's big weekend leads to December Finals bid

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Zachary El Shafei makes his second appearance of the season on this week’s list of top performers, as the Ottawa player has cemented himself as one of the U14 boys’ leading scorers and helped his team qualify for the Super Y-League North American Finals out of the New England Division this past weekend. Elsewhere, a Maryland Rush standout did all she could for her South Atlantic club but fell just short, and a NJ Rangers FC player kept his team in the hunt for a Finals spot with outstanding play.

Hannah Crook
Maryland Rush U14 Girls

Crook (pictured) recorded a hat trick in Maryland’s last game of the season on Saturday, a 4-1 win against FASA. The win meant the Rush finished the South Atlantic Division season with 17 points, two behind second-place Atlanta Fire United, and missed out on a place at the Super Y-League North American Finals.

FASA began the game on the front foot with high pressure on the Rush and scored a goal before Crook took control. Her first goal was a beautiful shot from about 20 yards into the upper-90, scored before the end of the first half for a 1-1 score line.

In the second half, the Rush started to put more pressure on their opponents and controlled possession. Crook scored her second goal from teammate Nadja Amaguana’s cross. She first hit the post with a powerful header, then followed up the rebound to put the ball into the back of the net.

Crook’s third goal also came from a great cross from Amaguana. Crook took a first-time shot and the ball again ended up in the upper-90, a difficult shot that the 14-year-old made look easy.

“Hannah is a very hard worker, a very gifted athlete and soccer player, and very smart on the soccer field,” Maryland Rush Coach Kennedy Torres said. “She displayed great control of the ball [on Saturday] and she showed all her great skills and footwork with her three goals.

“She’s had a tremendous season with Maryland Rush and is playing great soccer.”

Zachary El Shafei
Ottawa Fury U14 Boys

El Shafei is no stranger to the Top Performers list, and his performances in two games this past weekend warranted another inclusion. With a goal and four assists in Saturday’s win against MPS Portland Phoenix and two goals and three assists in a Sunday victory against Lightning Soccer Club, El Shafei helped the Fury clinch a bid to the 2012 Super Y-League North American Finals as one of two teams in Group A of the New England Division.

“His attacking prowess has been sharp all year,” Ottawa Coach Jimmy Zito said. “Hopefully it will carry the team to Florida.”

El Shafei plays in an older age group and has managed more than 20 goals and 10 assists with two games remaining in the season.

“Zac has had a tremendous season and this weekend was no different,” Zito said.

Matthew Howlett
NJ Rangers FC U13 Boys

Howlett led the Rangers to a 4-1 win on Saturday against Princeton Soccer Association with a goal and two assists. The win kept the Mid Atlantic Division club in the race for a spot at the 2012 North American Finals in Bradenton, Florida.\

On another hot summer day, the Rangers knew that only victory would be good enough to help them continue on the road to the Finals. Tough field conditions did not stop the Rangers from playing the quality soccer that has been a staple of their performances this season.

“Matthew has always been integral in the style that we play, but he is often the unsung hero as he doesn’t necessarily receive the plaudits his technique and passing awareness deserve,” NJ Rangers FC Coach Kieran Patrick said.

The Rangers raced out to an early 2-0 lead with goals from Ervin Gjeli (assisted by Howlett) and Howlett’s penalty kick after Jakub Iwaniuk was fouled in the box.

A shaky start to the second half allowed Princeton to score a deserving goal, but the Rangers recovered their groove soon after. The game was all but over when Iwaniuk tapped home a Henry Kraham cross from close range and Quinn Baity extended the lead again with a volley after Howlett’s long-distance shot hit the crossbar.

“He is a player in the mold of Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta with his ability to retain possession with intelligent passing or destroy a defense with a creative through ball,” Patrick said. “This ability is rarely seen at this age.

“He has been playing fantastically over the last few weeks and it’s a pleasure to watch him control games in such a way.”

Howlett has only played in nine of his team’s 14 games, but has been directly involved in 14 of the Rangers’ 32 goals this season.

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