MLVA Lightning (CA-N) is back at the US Youth Soccer National Championships, after having won the Under-14 Elmer Ehlers Cup in 2010. Last year, MVLA lost in the quarterfinals of regionals and are happy to be back at nationals.
"Since that loss we’ve had the girls play against the best competition," said head coach Erin Montoya. "Their training habits and commitment to the team is unbelievable and they want it more and more every time we play. It is an incredible set of girls to work with."
MVLA’s opponent Wednesday, KCFC/Futura Academy (MO), started the game tentatively, the first for the group at nationals. Despite numerous chances, MVLA’s lone goal came in the 11th minute as Sarah Robinson dribbled about 50 yards up field unchallenged and found teammate Fatmata Kamara in the middle of the box. Kamara took no time putting the ball in the net for the game winner.
"I just saw a gap in the midfield and I figured I could attack it with speed," Robinson said. "I thought we did well with high pressing and never giving them time or space. We made life difficult for them."
MVLA’s experience on the big stage showed as they confidently passed the ball around and had KCFC/Futura players chasing the game. KCFC/Futura Academy had its best chance in the game when Savannah Trujillo played a beautiful ball through to a darting Alexis Howard. MVLA keeper Jacquelyn Caginia made a stellar save on Howard’s 1 v 1 effort to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The hounding MVLA defense held the opposition to only one shot on goal while helping the Lightning tally seven of its own on frame.
"It took us awhile to settle down and get used to the other team," Montoya said. "They’re very well coached and organized. We got lucky with an early goal and were then able to move the ball around. I thought it was a very even game early on."
Lightning earned three points and is one step closer to getting back to the title game, while KCFC/Futura Academy faces a tougher road.