National League Blue Runners-Up, MapleBrook Fury (MN) defeated Cajun SC Rage 18/19 Academy (LA), 1-1, in the final 19U Girls group game to claim a spot in the 19U Girls semifinals.
“[The National Championships] has been a really great experience,” said Maplebrook Fury head coach Jean Yves-Viardin. “It is our first time here so the girls are really excited and I think we have a good shot at it.”
MapleBrook put on the pressure throughout the early stages of the game but were unable to test the keeper as it struggled to get shots on target. When Maplebrook began to add more pressure, Cajun’s Katie Cook stepped up to keep the game close. Cook first tipped a shot over the bar, and then made a close range save at the back post off a great ball into the box. Cajun’s survived another close scare with a scramble in the box, but a good MapleBrook chance was saved off the line by Shelby Brinkley.
It was more of the same in the second half, as the Minnesota side’s attack was relentless. It looked to double its advantage but Cook continued to stand tall getting fingers on a stinging close range shot to tip it over the bar. MapleBrook final broke the deadlock when a deflected shot found the foot of Sarah C. Johnston who put on beyond an outstretched Cook.
MapleBrook’s best defense was its offense as it kept possession and made it difficult for the Louisiana side to release any pressure. With the 1-0 scoreline, Cajun needed two goals in order to advance and Cook did her best to keep them in the game. A 1v1 chance looked like it would double the advantage, but Cook made a fantastic kick save to keep the two teams close.
The team from Minnesota looked like it was about to make it 2-0 late in the second half, but saw a rocket of a shot hit the underside of the cross bar and safely found the arms of Cook. Maplebrook’s defense and offense worked to wind down the clock to earn the, 1-0, victory.
With the win, Maplebrook earns a spot in the semifinals where they will face Group A winners Celtic FC 00 Premier (UT)
“There is a lot of talent in Minnesota and we normally get the shaft,” continued Yves-Viardin. “People don’t think there is soccer in Minnesota, but there is. We’re here to prove it.”