In a close, gutsy match, 14U Girls SDFC Yellow (NJ) defeated Tennessee SC Showcase (TN), 1-0, to stay alive for advancement at the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
“All we knew was that we were going to work as hard as we could for each other, and we pulled through with a win,” SDFC’s lone goal scorer Lauren Belcuore said.
As both teams looked to earn their first win in the competition, Tennessee SC had more of the offensive drive in the first half, earning many corner kicks and opportunities in front of the goal. Hayley Howard had a couple chances to put Tennessee SC ahead with her low driven shots that ended up just wide of the goal.
Despite Tennessee SC’s efforts, SDFC earned one chance and capitalized on it. As the ball was passed from the right flank in behind the Tennessee SC’s defenders, Belcuore took the ball in a 1-v-1 situation with the keeper and slipped it by her into the goal.
Tennessee SC did not stop fighting and pushed even harder going into the second half, while SDFC held on and kept a strong defensive line without the option to substitute any players from the bench.
“We’ve only got 12 players, and then we went to 11 with an injury,” SDFC head coach Anthony Hanson said. “It was all about them just digging deep. We played well in the first half, but the second half was all about digging in, keeping the spirit going and defending as we did, which was amazing.”
SDFC will face the current group leader, Nationals Union 03 Black (MI), in the final preliminary match on Thursday, and a win would put SDFC in the championship match.
“It’s a long way for us to come from New Jersey to go out after two days, so we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance for tomorrow now,” Hanson said. “What they’ve done, how they won Regionals, and how they got here to Nationals is amazing. For the players, it’s just all about the experience and we’ve given ourselves a chance to stay in it.”