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New York Red Bulls U23s win national semifinal, advance to PDL Championship

Will have the chance to be back-to-back national champions.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls U23s are headed to the PDL championship match after a 2-1 win in extra time over the Ocala Stampede in Seattle, Washington. The short handed squad was missing key players due to United States U23 national team training camp and the start of college preseason training, but were able to pull out the victory.

Joe Farrell (FC Delco/La Salle) scored the game winning goal in the 114th minute, taking a throw in from Scott Thomsen (Red Bulls Academy/Virginia) and looping the ball over the Ocala keeper.

The Baby Bulls got off to a fast start, dominating play. However, their attacking and possession only yielded one goal during regulation. Mike Innocenzi (Red Bulls Academy/Harvard) opened the scoring in the 7th minute off a Chris Thorsheim (Red Bulls Academy/Bucknell) assist.

Ocala tied the match in the 38th minute after Karamba Janneh made a long run through the center of the field and slotted the ball past Red Bulls keeper Joe Ohaus (PDA/Duke). Both teams continued to press for the rest of the match, but neither could find a goal. Ohaus made a few spectacular saves, and the Red Bulls had a shot slam off the crossbar, but the match stayed level until Farrell's spectacular effort in extra time.

Manager Rob Elliot spoke with after the match:

"From a developmental standpoint it’s an important moment for the guys to see how they react and deal with difficult situations," NYRB U23 head coach Rob Elliot said. "They were pushed today. Ocala was a good team. We bent a few times there, but I think the guys were mentally strong and that’s important in terms of development too. I give our guys a lot of credit. We dug in and made some plays."

"We put Joe Farrell up there because he’s very good at holding the ball and he’s strong. He was able to get a little bit of space there and get it over the goalkeeper."

Center back Timothy Schmoll (ADIS [Switzerland]/Harvard) made a notable impact, constantly breaking up attacks and serving as an outlet for teammates under pressure from speedy Ocala attackers. Schmoll -- recently named to the PDL All-Eastern Conference team -- has been training with the senior team and will hopefully stick with the Red Bulls organization after he finishes his senior season for the Crimson.

Now the Red Bulls have a date with K-W United FC on Sunday at 5 p.m.; K-W beat the Seattle Sounders U23s in a tight 1-0 match to advance to the final.  Will fatigue play a factor? The U23s are short handed (they only traveled with 15 players) and are coming off an extra time match. However, they're a talented team and return plenty of players who won last year's NPSL Championship; I'd bet on them taking home the trophy.

So tune in to the YouTube stream on Sunday night to watch the team compete for their second straight amateur national championship.