After a last-minute goal to steal a draw and a loss in their first two matches, things were not looking so great for CCSC SOL (FL). But a victory over a former National Champion So Cal Blues Dodge (CA-S), and some help from Scorpions SC, CCSC found a way to qualify for the finals of the Under-19 Girls division at the US Youth Soccer National Championships at Manchester Meadows, in Rock Hill, S.C.
Kaili Torres and Jessica Haley built CCSC a two-goal lead before So Cal’s Kathleen Gallanes cut it in half in the 77th minute. CCSC was able to hold off a ferocious late-game rally by the Blues in order to get the victory and ultimately advance to the finals.
"We knew we had to take of business and hope the other game favored us," CCSC head coach, Luis Torres. "So Cal has been a target for us for two years. Before every game we played we asked ourselves who we were playing, and we answered "So Cal Blues" because we wanted to get here and play a great team like So Cal."
Torres broke the stalemate in the 33rd minute when she received a cross on the back post from Haley, dribbled around Blues’ keeper Kelly McCormick, and struck the ball in the back of the net. After playing the role of creator, Haley scored in 55th minute when the ball found her feet after a failed clearance by a Blues defender. Haley’s strike took a wicked bounce off the turf and rendered McCormick helpless as the ball ventured four yards from its initial trajectory and into the back of the net.
"That second goal was tough because it hit the turf and stinted four yards to the left. There was no way [McCormick] could make that save," Blues head coach Randy Dodge said. "But CCSC played well, and I thought we played really well too. When you come to the National Championships, you need a little luck to be successful, and this year it just wasn’t meant to be."
Gallanes put the Blues on the board with a goal in the 77th minute on a breakaway in which she volleyed the ball over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net. After that, CCSC was completely on the defensive as So Cal veterans Erica Mazeau and Jordan O’Brien spearheaded an incredible effort to tie the score up, and punch their own ticket to the National Championship. But it was all for not as CCSC’s goal keeper, Kylie Wilson was up to the challenge on numerous occasions.
"[Wilson] has been big for us through the entire tournament," Torres said. "She saved us in the first game when we tied, and she was awesome for us today."
CCSC will meet Scorpions in the final game in a rematch of their preliminary game that ended in a draw. That game was filled with late-minute drama, as both goals were scored after the 80th minute, and CCSC’s goal was in extra time. For a full recap of the game, click here. The match will take place on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. on field two.
"Winning a National Championship would mean everything for these girls. I have been with them since they were 11, and they are all great friends," Torres said. "Our ultimate goal since they were U-13 has been to win a National Championship, as it should be for every youth club. We have to play a great team and will have to come up big."