2013 US Youth Soccer National Champions Legends FC 99 (CA-S) made reservations in Saturday’s semifinals of the Under-14 Girls age group with a 1-0 victory over Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) on day two at the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard.
“It seems like as the game goes on and their backs get up against the wall they start to raise their level of play,” Legends head coach Josh Hodges said. “Our forward got on the ball, sent a good back pass and we were able to beat the keeper.”
It was evident both teams knew each other well as a majority of game was played in the midfield with very few quality goal scoring chances occurring. Carlsbad’s best opportunity came later in the first half when Jaycee Johnson ripped a shot from over 25 yards out that forced a great save from Legends keeper, Amanda Delgado, who tipped it over the crossbar.
In the 62nd minute, Legend’s Emily Knous received a through ball on the right side of the box. The Carlsbad keeper took off for the ball, but slowed up when Knous received the ball and made a move to beat the keeper to the far post for the only goal of the game.
Knous is no stranger to big-time goals as the forward led Legends with four goals in the 2014 Region IV Championships including two in the finals.
“Us being here last year definitely gives an advantage in regards to that experience,” Hodges said. “But every team is good and quality here, and the kids are excited about the opportunity of winning a second national championship.”
Knous and other Legends attackers have had to pick-up some of the slack after losing U.S. Soccer National Team pool forward Denae Antoine to an ACL injury earlier in the year. Legends FC sits atop of Group A with six points and has already guaranteed a slot in the semifinals.
Last year there were only four teams in Legends’ group as opposed to the eight in the Under-14 Girls group this year.
“Last year there were four great teams and now there are eight great teams,” Hodges said. “The addition of the semifinals allows for a team to not be perfect and still advance to the semifinals which is good.”
Legends will finish off group play against Sting 00 Flanagan (N-TX) while Carlsbad will face off against NEFC Elite for the other spot in hope of gaining the other semifinals slot. For Hodges and Legends it is about taking things one game at a time.
“We have spent a lot of time for the entire year preparing for this tournament,” Hodges said. “We are trying to get better and better every game and hopefully have the opportunity to play for a second national championship.”