In their first eligible year for the US Youth Soccer National Championships TNFC 98 Azzurri (TN) has earned a berth to the Under-14 Girls final match.
TNFC, needing a tie or win to advance, held off a ruthless Beach FC 97 (CA-S) attack in the first half. Outplaying their counterparts, Beach FC dominated the possession and total shots in the first half. Savannah DeMelo orchestrated the attack for Beach FC as she whipped in dangerous passes and free kicks. TNCF was rushed by high defensive pressure that resulted in numerous turnovers.
TNFC’s best scoring chance came in the 26th minute of play as Callie McKinney drew a free kick on the edge of the box. The ensuing shot was struck right at the Beach keeper leaving the score leveled at 0-0.
For the first part of the second half it was more of the same. Beach dominated possession but couldn’t finish. Beach’s most dangerous chance came in the 42nd minute when a shot bounced around in the TNFC six yard box but was cleared off the line by a TNFC defender. Beach threatened again with a DeMelo free kick in the 62nd minute but that attempt went into the wall of TNFC defenders.
With 10 minutes left to play, anxiety began to set in for both teams and the pace of play increased dramatically. Players on both benches were on the edge of their seats as the coaches were intently tracking the time left on the clock. Time would run out for Beach and TNFC held on to the tie.
"You want to avoid fouls, handballs and anything weird happening," said TNFC head coach Laban Defriese. "You have to have good technique, awareness and you have to compete. Our girls were able to do that and avoid anything silly to preserve the draw."
With the result TNFC advances to play MSC Coyotes Green (MD) on Saturday’s 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championship game.
"We’ve been all over the country playing preparing for games like this," Defriese continued. "When they were 10 years old I thought we had a group of girls that could compete for a National Championship. Four years later, here we are."