Photo by Ben Nguyen
AC Juniors Triumph in Sensational Volt League Victory
AC Juniors, the underdogs-turned-champions, have emerged victorious in an exhilarating battle for the inaugural 11v11 Volt League title. After an arduous two-year journey, the team's rise to glory is nothing short of a remarkable tale.
Back in 2021, when Volt launched their highly anticipated second 7v7 season, AC Juniors came into existence in Division 2. Although their performance was modest, securing only one win against Ghosttown Saints FC in the VoltCup quarterfinals, there was one player who harbored a burning desire to reshape the club's destiny. Hilario Torres, a player fueled by ambition, took charge of rebuilding the squad, vowing to bring forth a team that would challenge the league's top contenders.
In the subsequent season, which marked the Volt League's transition to 11v11 and a groundbreaking partnership with Adidas, AC Juniors, under the inspirational leadership of Hilario Torres, showcased remarkable strength. With a formidable lineup featuring players like Carlos Sevilla, Christian Vargas, Shayne Bryan, Darwin Soto, and Alexis Perales, the team fought their way to a commendable third place in the regular season, hot on the heels of Ghosttown Saints FC. They displayed an unwavering determination, reaching the league final and the semifinals of the VoltCup, only to narrowly lose the title to Houston Town in a heart-stopping penalty shootout.
But AC Juniors refused to be disheartened. Their appetite for victory grew stronger, and their ambition burned brighter than ever. They understood that in order to claim the ultimate prize—an official Volt League title—they had to make adjustments and embrace new strategies. And so, as plans for the highly anticipated 22/23 Volt League season unfolded, news broke that the 7v7 league was to be replaced by the more challenging 11v11 format, with past 7v7 winners now recognized as legitimate Volt League champions.
AC Juniors' indomitable captain, Hilario Torres, seized the opportunity to present an exciting new project to the league. The club underwent a complete transformation, with significant upgrades designed to assemble a team capable of competing at the highest level. The most captivating additions included winger Fernando Montoya, goalkeeper David Gomez, and the formidable Mendez brothers. These confirmed signings undoubtedly raised the team's overall quality. However, there were still a few trump cards left to be revealed.
As the opening game of the season arrived, AC Juniors unleashed three extraordinary players who would redefine their championship ambitions. Alan Cruz, hailed as the MVP, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Erwin Regules were brought into the starting lineup, infusing the team with a newfound vigor. With the transition to 11v11, AC Juniors recognized the need for meticulous adjustments and adapted their game plan accordingly.
Now, with an electrifying mix of talent, resilience, and a burning desire for glory, AC Juniors sets their sights on nothing short of triumph in the fiercely competitive Volt League. The stage is set for an enthralling season where dreams will be realized and legends will be born. Brace yourselves for the awe-inspiring journey of AC Juniors as they march towards their destiny, propelled by a hunger that knows no bounds.
Alan Cruz MVP, Photo by Ben Nguyen
As the season started AC Juniors suffered their first defeat against an incredible FC Seinfeld team, the first Volt League champions. Juniors soon recognized that to win it all they had to beat that Seinfeld,
and they understood that it was going to take more than talent to make it happen,
as the season went on AC Juniors had
an almost perfect season where the only 3 games they lost were against International SC 1st leg and FC Seinfeld in both legs.
FC Seinfeld 6 - 1 AC Juniors
AC Juniors 0 - 4 FC Seinfeld
AC Junior 4 - 3 Ghosttown
Ghosttown 2 - 3 AC Juniors
Despite the 3 loses AC Juniors went to beat every team in the league besides Seinfeld, but a new opponent had just risen (Ghosttown Saints) a team that has never been able to beat Juniors in the history of the league, besides International and Seinfeld AC Juniors regular season run got complicated every time they got to play against Ghosttown in both legs ending in victory for Juniors by just one goal, this games were key moments that made the team reflect on what could happen if they don't compete at their highest level against any team even the projected relegated clubs, having taken that into consideration. Only twice Juniors fell to 3rd place in the season where a good fight vs International was taking place
since Seinfeld had already taken off, Juniors went on to clinch straight ticket to the semifinals avoiding a quarterfinals elimination games where anything can happen.
Photo by Ben Nguyen
Important regular season results:
AC Juniors 4 - 3 International 1st Leg Photo by Ben Nguyen
International 3 - 2 AC Juniors 2nd Leg
In a clash that oozed intensity and style, AC Juniors showcased not only their remarkable skills but also their eye-catching kit in black, gold, and white—the envy of the league. Their opponents in the semifinals were none other than their season-long rivals, a team that had proved to be their worthy adversaries throughout the campaign. The battle for second and third place had raged on between these two powerhouses, and now it was time for the ultimate showdown.
The first leg of the encounter unfolded in exhilarating fashion, as AC Juniors and International locked horns in a goal-laden spectacle. With an early setback, AC Juniors found themselves trailing within the first six minutes, caught off guard by their opponents' ferocity. However, displaying unwavering determination, they quickly regrouped and retaliated with a stunning free-kick goal from the ice-cold Alan Cruz in the 19th minute. The game seemed destined for a nail-biting showdown, with International asserting control in midfield.
But just as expectations were set for a closely contested battle, Erwin Regules emerged as the catalyst for a game-changing moment. In the 27th minute, Regules, exhibiting exquisite precision and vision, delivered a majestic long ball assist to the awaiting Cruz. With impeccable timing, Cruz executed a mesmerizing chip over the outstretched arms of Lopez, sending the momentum soaring in AC Juniors' favor.
From that point on, the tides had turned dramatically, and AC Juniors seized control of the match with a newfound confidence. The team dictated the proceedings, leaving International struggling to find their footing. With a comfortable lead secured through a hat-trick of goals by the sensational Cruz and a well-executed strike by Eduardo Rodriguez, AC Juniors dominated the remainder of the encounter. The final scoreline of 4-2 in their favor showcased their undeniable prowess and propelled them into the finals.
As the dust settled on this breathtaking semifinal clash, AC Juniors basked in the glory of their remarkable triumph. Their performance was a testament to their unwavering spirit, exceptional teamwork, and the sheer brilliance of their star player, Alan Cruz. With the finals looming on the horizon, the stage is set for an electrifying showdown that promises to be etched into the annals of Volt League history. Brace yourselves for the grand finale, where AC Juniors will stop at nothing to claim the coveted title and etch their names in soccer folklore.
Ghosttown Saints FC v AC Juniors / June 11, 2023 - Adidas Volt League Final
On to the final game of the season, AC Juniors had to face one last obstacle for the absolute glory, Ghosttown, a team that Juniors always beat but this time it was a bit different, Ghosttown that had only 1 point in January, had built a massive squad that gave FC Seinfeld a true fight the whole season, where Seinfeld felt like that competition was over and they had the league in their pocket, there come Ghosttown a team that had risen from the bottom this season, having gone through rebuild after finishing the season 2nd in the 21/22 7v7 season they struggled a lot to find themselves and they did something no team had done in the season give Seinfeld their first loss of the season in the most crucial game for both teams in the semifinals, they ended the game 4-4 against Seinfeld and had a 5-4 victory in one of the most exciting games in the league's history, which sent a clear message to AC Juniors that despite the historical results against Ghosttown Saints, the game was going to be far from easy.
AC Juniors Crowned Champions in Epic Showdown Against Ghosttown
In the climactic final match of the season, AC Juniors found themselves facing their ultimate test for glory against Ghosttown. Although AC Juniors had historically dominated Ghosttown in previous encounters, this time, the tables were turning. Ghosttown, a team that had struggled early in the season, managed to assemble a formidable squad that posed a genuine threat to the mighty FC Seinfeld. Their stunning performance against Seinfeld, securing a 5-4 victory after a thrilling 4-4 draw in the semifinals, sent shockwaves through the league and served as a clear message to AC Juniors that this would be no ordinary battle.
The league final was shrouded in unpredictability, as no team had ever been able to claim victory within regular time. All previous finals had been decided from the penalty spot, making this clash all the more thrilling. As the match official, Paul Edward, blew the whistle to commence the first half, it became evident that the game would be a tightly contested affair. Both teams were cautious not to relinquish possession easily, meticulously playing from side to side, seeking an opening without committing any costly errors. Clear-cut chances were few and far between, resulting in a goalless first half—an unprecedented occurrence for this season, which only underscored the intensity of the contest.
The second half commenced with both teams pouring their hearts and souls into the battle. However, it was AC Juniors who appeared more at ease, led by the indomitable Erwin Regules and Eduardo Rodriguez
who had assumed the mantle of attack after Alan Cruz sustained an injury in the first half. Regules proved to be the linchpin of the team, and at the 60th minute mark, he delivered a moment of pure brilliance. From an impossible angle, he expertly placed the ball in the smallest corner of the net, defying all odds and captivating believers and skeptics alike. It was a goal that transcended mere science, evoking a sense of the divine. AC Juniors had taken the lead, leaving spectators questioning whether the match would once again be destined for a penalty shootout.
Ghosttown fought valiantly for the remainder of the game, employing tactical substitutions and rearranging their attacking lineup in a bid to break through AC Juniors' resolute defense. However, they were met with an impenetrable wall consisting of the formidable Mendez brothers and the brilliant defensive displays of Christian Vargas, who had been introduced into the game. Hilario Torres marshaled the defense with aplomb, and the Mendez brothers effectively neutralizing Ghosttown's MVP runner-up, Samuel Ayoka, as well as their star players, Sammy Ekp, Presley Castelan, Emmanuel Ibe, and others. This final will be forever etched in the league's history as a testament to the greatest and most awe-inspiring defensive performance, as the "red wall" had risen.
Not to be forgotten, David Gomez, the AC Juniors goalkeeper, produced a string of exceptional saves while also providing an assist to Erwin Regules. In the 83rd minute, Gomez's swift distribution put Jesus Briñez under pressure, resulting in a crucial error. Regules capitalized on the opportunity with a slick tap-in, effectively sealing the deal and securing AC Juniors their first-ever league title. The Matias Almeyda facility erupted in jubilation as AC Juniors' remarkable journey culminated in the ultimate triumph, an achievement that will forever be cherished and celebrated.
The tale of AC Juniors' rise from adversity, their unwavering spirit, and the sheer brilliance of their players exemplify the magic and allure of soccer. As the champagne fell and celebrations ensued, AC Juniors' feat will be remembered as an inspiring chapter in the storied history of Volt League.
22/23 ADIDAS VOLT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SQUAD
1 David Gomez
7 Hilario Torres (c)
3 Christian Vargas
2 Alexis Perales
10 Carlos Sevilla
13 Shayne Bryan
8 Darwin Soto
18 Roman Barriga
6 Jonathan Mendez
4 Bryan Mendez
22 Christian Hinojosa
98 Kevin Mendez
17 Romeo Reyes
5 Mark Reno
16 Edgar Osorio
11 Etka Topuz
9 Eduardo Rodriguez
21 Fernando Montoya
19 Jhonny Morales
77 Erwin Regules
20 Alan Cruz
12 Jonathan Cervantes
14 Jerry Montoya