U14G Legends FC 99 set sights on repeat after defeating Cleveland FC
Defending National Champions, Legends FC 99 (CA-S) will look to make it back-to-back national titles after defeating Cleveland FC (OH-N) 1-0 in the semifinals of the Under-14 Girls age group at the US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard.
Legends have made a habit out of pulling through in close games as both of the Cal South squad’s victories in group play were by one goal, and today was no exception as a goal from Emily Knous and some stingy defense was enough to secure a birth into the national finals.
“It obviously feels great to get back to the national finals,” Legends head coach, Josh Hodges said. “This is something we have been building for all year, and we are going to do our best to make sure that we are ready.”
Knous broke the scoreless tie in the 20th minute after sending a diagonal pass to the right side of the box, where her counterpart Emily Jacquez, beat the keeper to the ball and played it back into the middle for a wide open Knous to easily tap it in.
“We have put in a lot of work to prepare for this tournament, and to put it all together and have the opportunity to win back-to-back is a good feeling,” Knous said. “The competition has definitely risen with there now being eight teams and having to win the semifinals. It is a big challenge to get to the final, and we are ready for tomorrow.”
In consistent Legends fashion, players from some of the other Legends team who qualified for the tournament showed up to support their younger club mates.
“The club spirit is alive. You can hear the chants during the game,” Hodges said. “To have the other teams here makes you really appreciate the strength and unity of this club.”
Legends will take on the only other team to return to the National Championships in their age group, NEFC Elite (MA). Legends defeated NEFC 2-1 on day one of the tournament, and will have another opportunity to try and contain NEFC’s Marykate McGuire, who has six goals in the tournament, including the game winner in a 3-2 semifinals victory over Tophat 18 Gold (GA). Knous, who had yet to join the team when they won last year, is excited for her first national final, and the opportunity to help her team win two in a row.
Knous said, “To now be in the national finals is a great feeling, and for us to play tomorrow in this environment, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
All finals matches will be streamed, and can be seen here: http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/live.