Suns take third from last year?s winners
By MARK ROBINSON
THE North Coast Suns have completed their most successful Summer Soccer Youth League in style, defeating last year's champions the Sunshine Coast Hawks 3-2 to finish in third place.
After narrowly missing out on a place in the final on goal difference, the Suns met the Hawks in the third place play-off at Brisbane Lions Stadium on Saturday and produced another excellent display of attacking soccer.
The Suns began confidently and took just 10 minutes to open their account when James Hirst pounced on an error from the Hawks goalkeeper.
Striker Tom Guttormsen was causing plenty of problems for the Hawks defence and set up the Suns' second goal, taking the ball to the by-line before cutting back a pass for Tom Ruhl to finish from close range with a first-time hit.
Guttormsen was unlucky not to score himself, hitting the woodwork twice and creating several other good chances that went begging.
After leading 2-0 at the break, the Suns increased their margin when Lucas MacPherson cut down the right flank and found the ever-present Tom Ruhl in space again to net his second goal.
With a three-goal buffer the Suns continued to push forward in search of more goals, but twice were caught on the break by the speed of the Hawks' forwards in the closing minutes for the final 3-2 scoreline.
Apart from the closing 10 minutes, the Suns dominated the game and were stringing together long sequences of passes, coach Jonathan Harlen said.
"Lucas MacPherson had a great game, Joel Saye had his best game in defence and while Tom Guttormsen couldn't buy a goal, he still had a good game," Harlen said.
Again the exposure gained by the Suns' involvement in the Summer League has aroused interest in local players from across the border, with Joel Gosper looking destined to join Brisbane City and Brisbane Force expressing interest in Lucas MacPherson.
With only two or three players exceeding the age limit of 21 by next summer, most of the squad will remain intact for the next Summer League, when the Suns will be looking to go one better and reach the final.
This year's final was won by the Queensland Academy of Sport with a 4-0 win over Palm Beach Sharks.