A late goal helped San Diego Surf (CA-S) earn a tie to finish group play undefeated as it heads into Saturday night’s 13U Girls final at the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, Texas.
The Cal South side, which had already secured a spot in the final, faced its toughest test on Thursday, as Lonestar 04G RED (TX-S) played it to a 1-1 draw.
Surf coach Pauly Dolinsky said he and his team are excited to be moving on from the group stage for a chance at the National title.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Dolinsky said. “The girls have put a lot of time into it, not only this week, but the entire year. Obviously, it’s the ultimate reward — playing for it all.”
Dolinsky said Lonestar was a good team that presented some challenges with its strength, physicality and athleticism. That showed for much of the game, as the South Texas side pushed for a win and chance to advance to the final.
After some early half-chances, Lonestar broke through in the 54th minute when Mallory Allen hit a right-footed shot that beat a diving keeper and slid inside the far post. That lead held until the final minutes, when San Diego created an equalizer.
Acacia Edwards beat a Lonestar defender on the right wing and sent in a low cross. The bouncing ball made its way to Maura Yumul, who placed her shot inside the near post with her first touch. With that goal, Surf forced the tie and created a little momentum with which to head into Saturday’s final.
“It’s so exciting,” Surf central midfielder Maggie Taitano said. “We’ve worked really hard for this and have made so many really good memories. It’s been fun and really cool experience that we’ll never forget.”
San Diego will meet SDFC Yellow (NJ) in the 13U Girls final after Surf shut out the New Jersey side on the opening day of play. With the next matchup having a trophy on the line, Dolinsky said there will be a different feeling when the two sides take the field.
“As a player, I don’t think there’s any better feeling than playing for the National title,” Dolinsky said. “I think ‘excitement’ is the only word I can think of for it. As a coach, to have the opportunity to hopefully help them through it — it’s a blessing to be a part of it.”