Cottleville…The St. Louis Lions Academy, a club neutral soccer team coached by Tony Glavin, President and Head Coach of the St. Louis Lions of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League, returned home today after a successful showing against some of Scotland’s top youth soccer teams. The ten day trip included two days of training with famed Celtic FC trainers and five games against competition generally several years older with a record of two wins, one loss and two draws.
In the first game, less than 24 hours after their arrival in Glasgow, the Young Lions faced their biggest test against the Celtic FC Youth Academy School of Excellence, the elite Scottish players in the 15/16 age at the Toryglen Regional Football Centre. The Lions fell 3-1, with their lone goal coming in the second half by Conner Baker off a through ball from Mitch Wagner.
Against Cumbernaud FC at the Ravenswood Field in Cumbernaud, the Lions fell behind in the 28th minute, but two minutes later Kyle Weinrich converted a penalty kick resulting from a hand ball in the box, to tie the score. Despite strong runs by Will Faherty and Brendan K. McDonough the Lions failed to break through and the second half became a defensive struggle with Elliot Boerding, Eric Hansen, Andrew Keller and Jake Manheart doing outstanding work to keep the game deadlocked at one-one.
Playing in a steady rain at Garthhamlock FC, the Lions took the lead in the 6th minute on a break-away goal by Conner Baker, but were tied ten minutes later. In the 28th minute Tristyn Hasmer snapped up a rebound and tucked the ball into the net. Two minutes later, Garthamlock tied the score on a corner kick, but in the 50th minute Mason King stole the ball deep in the corner and centered the ball to Hasmer who notched his second goal of the match. The lead held until less than two minutes remaining when a long ball took a hop on the wet surface over keeper Conner Robinson’s head, for a final three-three draw.
In a rematch with the Celtic FC Youth Academy team at the Celtic Supporters Field in Glasgow, the Young Lions revenged their only loss with a 6-2 win. Scoring began as Conner Baker hit the net in the 21st minute following passes from Elliot Boerding and Kyle Weinrich. In the 30th minute, Celtic tied the score following a stolen ball at mid field, but in the 33rd minute, Mason King dazzled the crowd with a outstanding individual effort using multiple step-overs to beat
several defenders before unloosing a shot. Goal Keeper Conner Robinson knocked down a hard header from a corner shot and the Lions held the lead into half time. In the second half, the Young Lions took control. Brendan McDonough headed a ball over a defender then chased the ball down for a break-away goal. Seven minutes Conner Baker broke free and crossed to McDonough who hit the post but followed up with a shot into the net. Trey Haman scored on a rebound of another McDonough shot in the 55th minute and Mitch Wagner closed out the scoring for the Young Lions with a bicycle kick into the net. With less than two minutes to play, Celtic scored a consolation goal.
In their final game, the Young Lions faced Garnkirk United BC at Stepps Field, a smaller venue utilizing smaller goals. Within the tight confines, much of the game was physical with much of it played in the air. Brendan McDonough scored in 17th minute on a break-away then in the 28th minute, Conner Baker beat a defender off a header for the second goal. Garnkirk scored in the waning minutes of the match which ended Lions 2-Garnkirk 1.
“I thought our boys played very well once they got their feet on the ground,” said Coach Tony Glavin. “It takes a while to get accustomed to the different style of play in Scotland and going up against top teams of older boys can be difficult, but we did well and I’m proud of the strong showing and positive impression the team made.”
In preparation for the trip, the St. Louis Lions Academy team, which is composed of players from several clubs, trained six hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks following a year of intensive weekly training sessions,