With every passing minute, the pressure continued to build for D'Feeters 05 Black (TX-N) as it searched for the goal it needed to move on to the semifinals.
The North Texas side continually took the magnitude of the situation and turned it into an increasing amount of pressure on the back line of Tonka Fusion Elite (MN). In the end, D’Feeters managed to break through to edge Tonka Fusion, 1-0, and earn a victory that put them through to the 14U Girls semifinals at the 2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The key moment came in the 49th minute, when D’Feeters’ Theresa McCullough sent a tantalizing cross from the right end line toward the back post, where Livia Dunaway was making a darting run.
“There was space in front of me, and I really needed to get my head on it,” Dunaway said. “I went for it. It was the most perfect timing, and the ball was perfect.”
Dunaway powered a header into the back of the net to give the North Texas side the advantage it needed in its effort to secure a win and semifinal berth.
The breakthrough goal came after Tonka spent much of the match fending off sustained periods of D’Feeters pressure. Tonka goalkeeper Madeleine Schultz positioned herself well to make some key saves in either half. The Minnesota side’s defenders also worked to keep D’Feeters off the scoreboard — including a sequence early in the second half when Avery Olmstead and Avery Lampe combined to block a shot from D’Feeters’ Erin Morgan from close range.
D’Feeters coach Adam Flynn said he was confidence his team would get the win, even as it’s continued movements forward were repelled by Tonka.
“A bit of persistence was needed,” Flynn said. “We were making some great runs and providing some great crosses. We knew it would come eventually, and I’m glad it did. What a goal to win the game. I don’t think I’ve seen a better header of a ball ever.”
After the North Texas side went up, Tonka caused a few nervy moments for D’Feeters as it searched for an equalizer. However, Dunaway’s goal stood up as the game-winner, as D’Feeters punched its ticket to the semifinals.
Dunaway said the competitiveness of the National Championships was hard to imagine until she and her side actually took the field in Overland Park, Kan. Now, she and her teammates are preparing a semifinal matchup against Group B winner Pipeline Spirit PreAcademy 05 (MD).
“We’re delighted to be able to represent North Texas and our club at this level,” Flynn said. “We’re the only girls team here from North Texas, so we’re representing all of Texas right now. I think that’s something our girls are proud of going into the next game.”
The other 14U Girls semifinal will feature Group A winner NJ Stallions 05 Fire (NJ) and Lou Fusz Geerling 05 (MO).