Dalton-based team reaches semifinals of national soccer tournament

·2 min read

Jul. 11—The Dalton-based North Georgia Soccer Academy under-19 soccer team won two games and tied another to reach the semifinal round of the National Premier Leagues Finals.

In the semifinal of the NPL, which brought together qualifying teams from top youth soccer leagues in the country to a national championship tournament in Commerce City, Colorado, the NGSA Lions dropped a 4-0 decision to Chicago-based Sockers Football Club on Sunday, ending the team's run in the tournament.

The 21-player squad was comprised mostly of players from local high schools, including Dalton, Coahulla Creek, North Murray, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield. The team earned a spot in the national event by qualifying at a regional playoff in Greensboro, North Carolina, last month.

The NPL event hosts national championship tournaments for yearly age groups, starting with under-13, for both boys and girls youth teams.

The team began play on Thursday. Set in a round-robin bracket with three other teams, the Dalton-based squad finished 2-0-1 in pool play to advance to Sunday's semifinals.

NGSA's team, coached by academy founder Kerem Daser, opened play Thursday with a 5-0 win over a team from Texas, then took down a club based in Spokane, Washington, 7-2 on Friday.

On Saturday, NGSA trailed a team based in San Diego 1-0 headed into the final minute, but a goal from Jorge Sandoval — from Johnson High School in Gainesville — knotted the game at 1-1 for a draw, clinching the team a spot in the semis.

The Chicago-based Sockers, which had thundered through pool play undefeated, defeated NGSA to reach the championship match Monday. A Tennessee-based team knocked off the Sockers in the final 2-1 on penalty kicks.