Two years ago MVLA Lightning (CA-N) needed all of group play to lock up a berth to the Under-14 Girls final. This year, it only took them two games to clinch a spot as they earn a trip to the finals with a 5-0 win over Cleveland United White (OH) on the second day of play.
MVLA was coming off a day one victory and the confidence from that win was evident in their play throughout the game. MVLA dominated the early possession of the ball but United held its ground keeping MVLA from breaking through the midfield.
Gabrielle Matulich would be the answer as she dribbled at a defender and found Fatmata Kamara in behind the defense. Fatmata placed the ball to the right of the keeper for her second goal of the tournament and a 1-0 lead.
Only seven minutes later, Gabriella Kaplan made her way around a couple defenders in the United side of the field and picked out Jaye Boissiere in the box, making it 2-0.
Sarah Robinson scored the Lightning’s third goal of the game in the 32nd minute. Hannah Reed dribbled strongly down the right side of the field, shrugging off a defender. When she got to the touch-line she found a sprinting Robinson in stride, who surgically placed a shot to the right of the keeper.
"I think we came in ready," said MVLA head coach Erin Montoya. "The girls know it was hot but it didn’t really affect them because we like to keep the ball, and we are able to wear out the other team. I think it opened up a lot of things for us and getting a few early goals allows us to settle down and keep the ball even more."
The second half was more of the same as MVLA passed the ball around fluidly, thwarting any counter attack that United could muster.
Kaplan, in the 46th minute, caused more havoc in the United side of the field as she weaved through the defense and was eventually taken down in the box for a penalty kick. Kaplan calmly stepped up and placed a shot in the right side of the goal that left the United keeper standing.
The final goal of the game came in the 80th minute of play. Matulich took a strong shot from outside the box that hit the cross bar and bounced back into play. Caroline Olivero picked up the loose ball and slammed it home for the game’s final goal.
Jacquelyn Caginia, MVLA keeper, credited her entire team for the clean sheet.
"I think everyone really supports each other," Caginia said. "Even if we let a ball through we’re covering for each other. If we make a mistake we’ll be there to pick each other up."
With the victory, MVLA Lightning prepares for their game tomorrow against BRYC 95 Elite (VA). The game will serve as a preview of Sunday’s final, as both teams have already advanced to the championship game after earning six points in the group.