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NPL National Finals Preview: U-17 Santa Clara Sporting

For the decorated Santa Clara Sporting side, the NPL National Finals are nothing new — the squad captured the title two years ago.

And after winning the NPL Champions League in dominating fashion, finishing 7-0-0 with 24 goals scored and just four allowed, Sporting are looking for their second title in three years after finishing just short in the State Cup Final.

“Every game we feel we have a shot at,” said head coach John Azevedo. “The best thing about these boys is that they know they can’t take anything for granted. They have the mindset that if they’re here, they might as well give it everything they’ve got.”

Though Sporting were unable to capture the aforementioned State Cup title, it wasn’t for a lack of defending as they allowed just one goal in four knockout round games, eventually falling on penalties in the final to Marin FC.

“Our defense is usually a very strong point,” Azevedo said. “Everybody has to work on defense, if the boys work on defense, the offense will usually come around. When we’re playing well, we usually don’t give up many goals.”

That defense has seen one of the most accomplished sides in NorCal Premier Soccer history lose just a handful of games over the past few years — many of which have come on penalty kick losses.

Sporting kicks off their quest for a national title at 11:00 a.m. local time against SLSG Metro. Their full schedule can be viewed here.