On the final day of group play Legends FC 02 Academy 1 (CA-S) punched its ticket to the 16U Girls semifinal after drawing with Sparta 02 Elite (TX-N).
Heading in to its third and final game of group play, Legends needed a tie or win in order to move on and they did just that as they fought hard for eighty minutes.
“To drive through three games against three quality teams and to get through is amazing,” head coach Matthew Evans said. “The biggest thing now is to get the girls recovered because it’s going to be a grind.”
The early part of the game took place in the middle of the field with neither team gaining an offensive advantage. Sparta earned an early free kick that was saved by the keeper to keep the game knotted at zero. Late in the first half Legends earned a corner kick that led to a shot on goal, but ultimately got deflected out over the goal by the keeper and earned legends another corner kick. The ball bounced around in the box deflecting off players after the corner with Legends unable to capitalize. The teams went in to halftime tied at zero.
Both teams came out of halftime trying to gain the edge when Sparta earned an early penalty kick just three minutes in to the half, which Kayla Smith was able to convert to give Sparta the 1-0 lead. In stoppage time Legends’ Arianna Buggs hit the crossbar that missed, keeping Legends’ deficit at one. Just minutes later, Legends’ Layla Comeaux found the back of the net for the equalizer off of a throw in. The late goal helped push Legends through to the semifinal with the 1-1 draw.
After an early demoralizing second half goal from Sparta, Comeaux’s late goal helped boost Legends to the semifinal and just two games away from being crowned 16U Girls National Champions.
“This game meant a lot because we had to win or tie,” added Comeaux. “When I saw that ball hit the net it was the best feeling in the world.”
Legends will face off against SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ) on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. as the teams fight for a chance to play in the 16U Girls National Championship game.