In their opening game, Legends FC 00 Academy (CA-S) and HBC Impact 00 (NY-E) shared the points but not the feelings.
The two 17U Girls sides played to a 3-3 draw in Group A action — leaving each team with a point in the standings at the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, Texas. While Legends came away feeling fortunate to earn a tie, HBC was left believing it missed an opportunity to take control in the group.
“It’s hard when you’re up each time — 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 — to be OK with a tie,” HBC coach Billy Carroll said. “But, you can’t lose the first game, so getting a point is really important. The other side of the bracket tied, as well. So, we’re in a good spot. But when you have a win in hand, you have to finish.”
HBC took its first lead in the 13th minute when Lauren Mastandrea swung in a cross following a short corner. Talani Barnett rose up at the back post to meet the ball and headed in the opening goal.
That lead lasted just two minutes, as Legends immediately generated a response. A bouncing ball in the HBC penalty area found its way to Elisabeth Chua, who drove her shot through traffic and into the back of the net to equalize for the Cal South side.
HBC regained the lead shortly after halftime on a Gina Giovinco goal, and the Eastern New York side had some chances to extend its advantage to two goals but couldn’t find the right final ball. That allowed Legends to stay close and equalize when Chua snuck a well-placed shot inside the near post in the 70th minute to level the score at 2-2.
Legends coach Kevin Boyd said his team struggled to find its game throughout the course of the 90 minutes on Tuesday. After managing to earn a tie, he said they can be alright if they get settled into the game earlier in the coming days.
“We responded immediately [against HBC], and that’s what I liked,” Boyd said. “We seemed to respond every time they scored. I just need to get them to respond before the other team scores — see if we can go get that first goal.”
Legends needed to find one more response after Barnett placed a penalty kick inside the left post to put HBC back on top, 3-2, in the 74th minute. The Cal South side received a dangerous free kick in the final minute and earned a penalty kick after the ball struck an HBC hand in the box. Katie Wong stepped up to the penalty spot and converted to pull Legends even for a third time.
Carroll said he was happy with his team’s play, but he believed they weren’t switched on for a couple of moments. At this level, he said, that can be the difference between a win and a draw.
“We don’t get to see this level of competition all of the time. That’s why I love playing here,” Carroll said. “We don’t get to play teams like Legends or CUP (OH-S) unless it’s at an event like this. That level of competition is what you need to learn how to go a full 90 minutes. There is no coasting in a game like this.”
Following a tie in the other Group A game between defending champion Midwest United FC 00 Royal (MI) and 00 TFCA Alliance (NC), all is still to play for heading into the second day in Frisco.