Ambassadors FC weren’t shook up after being down 2-0 to Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) at halftime. The Under-15 Girls team from Ohio-North came back in the second half with three goals and a shutout, to win their first match of preliminary play in the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
"Anytime you come back from a 2-0 deficit you feel great, and we tried to convince them at halftime that we were not going to lose the game," said Ambassadors FC head coach Kent Manson. "We told them we would go out and get the first goal and from there we would win the game, and they did it."
It was a battle of goal scorers on both sides, but ultimately Sarah Krause’s hat trick overcame Sunny Dunphy’s pair of first half goals to lead her Ambassadors team to victory.
"Sarah Krause is a great player, probably one of the most under evaluated players in the country," said Manson. "For her to come out here at the national level and score a hat trick and come back when we’re 2-0 down to lead her team says who she is and what she’s about."
Ambassadors tackled a challenge as the first 40 minutes of play saw a dominant Carlsbad team.
Just seven minutes into the match, Carlsbad striker Sunny Dunphy found the back of the net after receiving a cross from teammate Hayley Mayne. Dunphy seemed unstoppable and added her second in the 21st minute when she took advantage of a throw in, and placed her shot just over the Ambassadors’ keeper to put Carlsbad up by two goals. Ambassadors had a few chances with free kicks before closing the half, but they couldn’t get on the board.
"We told them to believe in themselves and that we had allowed our opponent to kind of get into our minds," said Manson. "Our opponent played a great first half, high pressure, we were struggling to deal with it and we talked a lot about speed of play, speed of thought and how that played into our best asset which is passing and combination play."
The advice proved to be helpful and in the second half Ambassadors came back prepared and focused.
Just six minutes into the second half, Krause gave Ambassadors the boost they needed. She intercepted the ball from a corner kick on the other side of the field, sprinted with it all the way across, and together with teammate Alexandra Wright drew up a combination play that got through Carlsbad’s defense. Krause then found her rhythm, and just ten minutes later ran to the top of the box, chipped a ball over Carlsbad’s keeper and tied the game 2-2.
The deciding play came in the 69th minute, when a foul prompted Krause to go to the penalty mark. Krause confidently walked up and slotted it in near the left post for the game winning goal.
"Hopefully this is a milestone in their development as young players to begin to solidify their belief and do away with their insecurities, and try and play with a higher self-image which will in turn make them better players," said Manson.
Ambassadors FC came in third place at last year’s Nationals, and this year they hope to make it all the way.
"We made it our goal to be in the final; it would mean a lot," said Manson. "We obviously feel we are better prepared than we were last year because we’ve been here before. We just want to try and take the next step and try to make it to the final and get out of this group.
"Obviously, anytime you win your first game your confidence goes up, so for us now it’s taking the belief and the things that we learned in the second half and applying them in the next game."