McLean Youth keeps its 'cool' to stay on top

It was at around the age of 8 that a clever and precocious Sheldon Sullivan nicknamed himself after a rap artist.

"I saw LL Cool J in a video, and I just switched the L's with the S's," said Sullivan, whose monicker partially comprises his SSCoolJ e-mail address. "I guess I was about 8 years old, and I just thought that would be cool."

Sullivan certainly maintained his cool as a defender as McLean Youth's under-17/18 squad retained first place in the South Conference's Atlantic Division of the US Soccer Development Academy following a scoreless draw with CASL Chelsea FC and a 2-1 win over North Carolina Fusion.

Sullivan performed under the pressure of having been elevated to the status of co-captain just minutes prior to taking the field against CASL, replacing injured starter Greg Boehme.

"Once Greg got hurt, we needed two leaders. So when we did our warmups, I just filled in the role. By the time the game started, coach just said, 'OK, we need the captains, Peter [Lam] and Sheldon.' So I said, 'I'm ready coach,' and I went out for the coin toss and I put in the captain's work," said Sullivan, giving himself a "B-plus" for his overall effort.

"CASL was very technical and they have a lot of experience, so I knew that we were going to be playing aginst a team that was going to be technically and physically around where we are, or maybe a little bit above. To start off, I wasn't sure what I was up against. Second half, though, I was able to sort it out and I did my job."

Sullivan joined backfield mates Peter Lam, Ben Ogedegbe, Andres Rodlauer and Theo Erickson in front of goalie Lucas Belanger, who made a key save late in the game against CASL.

"Sheldon definitely does great work for us in the back. Ben Ogedegbe is always a good ball-winner. Basically our whole back four, with our huge rotation coming in, everyone does their job," said Lam, McLean's other co-captain.

"Lucas Belanger had a huge save against CASL at the end to keep us in it. Bradan Horton did a good job in goal to hold out that win for us against the Fusion. As a unit, we're all very cohesive, and that actually showed. I'm the one who has to organize everything, but they make my job easier. We're letting in a lot less goals than the other teams in our division."

Goals by forwards Amardo Oakley and Joel Teston in the 16th and 61st minutes secured the triumph over the Fusion as the McLean Youth rose to 7-0-2 in the division, and, 9-4-7 overall.

Lam, Oakley, Teston and forward Conor Nogueira lead the Youth with four goals each, followed by forward Kennedy O'Shea and midfielders David Galdo and Hotaka Shiomi with two goals each.


South Conference Atlantic Division

Virginia Rush 2, North Meck 0: Preston Firnstahl and James Ellis Jr. scored a goal in each half to lift the Rush (5-3-2, 8-9-4) over the North Meck (3-1-2, 3-4-4) on Saturday.

Charlotte Soccer Academy 2, Richmond Kickers 0: Hans Honer and Jordi Poff were the goal-scorers for the first-place Charlotte Soccer Academy (6-0, 7-3-1) over the last-place Strikers (0-6-1, 1-14-3)

West Conference SoCal Division

Pateadores 2, Real Salt Lake-AZ 0: Nahum Paz and Brian Pachecho converted in the 27th and 74th minutes as the fifth-place Pateadores (3-3-2, 6-3-6) blanked first-place Salt Lake (6-1, 11-3-2) in an upset on Saturday.

West Conference Northwest Division

San Jose Earthquakes 2, DeAnza Force 0: Goals by Elisama Padilla and Andy Perez secured the shutout for the fourth-place Quakes (4-2-1, 8-6-3) over the second-place Force (6-3-1, 10-6-4) on Saturday.


West Conference SoCal Division

Chivas USA 1, LA Galaxy 1: Mark Verso's goal in the 31st minute gave a 1-0 lead to first place Chivas (5-1-2, 10-3-2), but a goal by Mario Rodriguez was the equilizer for second-place LA Galaxy (5-1-1, 10-1-3) in the 45th minute of Saturday's game.

West Conference Northwest Division

DeAnza Force 3, San Jose Earthquakes 1: Dylan Autran, Kody Wakasa and Nicholas Lima scored for the first-place Force (7-2-1, 12-6-2). Luis Navarro scored for the sixth-place Quakes (3-3-1, 7-8-2).

South Conference Atlantic Division

Charlotte Soccer Academy 3, Richmond Kickers 1: Down by a goal, Roland Minogue IV scored the equilizer in the 35th minute, and Kyle Parker and Ben Burdon sealed the victory in the 86th and 87th, respectively, for the third-place Charlotte Soccer Academy (4-0-2, 4-2-5) against the Kickers (5-6, 7-15) on Saturday. The Kickers' lone score came from Daniel Lauretano II in the 20th minute.