Jessica Clinton scored the only goal of the game for Scorpions SC (MA) in the late stages of their second preliminary match against So Cal Blues Dodge (CA-S) in the 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championships, at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C.
Scorpions now hold a narrow lead in a wide-open Under-19 Girls division with four points. The Blues are one point behind Scorpions, and are tied with St. Louis Scott Gallagher for second place heading into the final preliminary match.
"The Blues are a very familiar opponent, and we have so much respect for them. Today’s game was a battle," Scorpions head coach Keith Caldwell said. "We kept the ball well and started attacking more towards the end of the game, and we were able to get a goal at the end."
Both teams had their fair share of chances in the first half. Cory Ryan was responsible for Scorpion’s first scoring opportunity in the 9th minute, when she struck a ball at the top of the box that was saved by Blues keeper, Kelly McCormick. One minute later, Ryan’s teammate Melissa Gavin cut back from the left side of the box and fired a shot but was also denied by McCormick. Erica Mazeau of the Blues provided the most dangerous threat when her shot clanked off the post after she outran a Scorpions defender on a through ball.
"So Cal is a great team, and we battled through the first half. We thought we could play better in the second half and came out strong with possession, which is our style," Scorpions midfielder Kate Makaroff said. "At the end we were able to wear them down and get a goal."
After a slew of chances in the second half, Clinton received the ball at the top of the box, juked a defender and sent a strike towards the far post that beat the outstretched hands of McCormick. Clinton’s goal occurred with just three minutes left and was only the second goal the Blues conceded in their state, regional and national championship run. The Scorpions were on the opposite side of a last-minute goal yesterday against CCSC SOL. The Scorpions were up 1-0 before CCSC tied things up in extra time. Check out a full recap of that game here.
"I think we played very well today, but they were better," Blues head coach Randy Dodge said. "They had more players available and they used that to their advantage. We need a positive result tomorrow to move on."
Every team in the group still has an opportunity to advance to the national finals. The Scorpions, Blues and Scott Gallagher control their own destiny and will advance with a win. CCSC needs a win and Scott Gallagher to lose in order to advance. The Blues will play CCSC tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. on field one, and the Scorpions will face Scott Gallagher at the same time on field two.