Jefferson Cup: Little margin for error as U-18s scramble for one more taste of success
RICHMOND, Va. – For many of its players, the Under-18 bracket at the Jefferson Cup girls showcase weekend represents one final weekend of competition in Richmond with their teammates before their college adventure begins. And a sunny Saturday slate crammed full with rescheduled matches from Friday offered ample evidence that all involved are keen to say goodbye to this tournament with heads held high.
In the Championship division, two draws and two 2-1 victories showed just how closely-matched these teams are, by and large.
+READ: Division standings up for grabs as sun arrives on Jefferson Cup Girls Showcase Day 2
PSC Baltimore continued their fine form with another win, this time taking care of PWSI Courage 96 Red 2-1. Rage SC Blackhawks got on the board with a victory over Bethesda United, while Potomac Hotspur vs. Beadling Gunners and NY Rush vs. VSA Heat Blue both ended 1-1.
Like many of the weekend’s participants, several teams in this bracket had to handle the extra strain of two games in one day, testing depth, fitness and match management.
Richmond United ECNL U18 4-0 SAC United Premier Kickers
Home side Richmond United bounced back from a loss Friday night with a resounding 4-0 victory over SAC United.
Jessica Scruggs bagged a brace for Richmond, while Madeline McCracken and Olivia Mills also found the net.
“I thought we had a high energy level. We scored one and didn’t let up. Sometimes we become complacent. We played solid defense,” McCracken said after the game.
But the loudest plaudits will go to Scruggs’ clinical double. The talented forward/midfielder, who plays at Midlothian High, has continued her fine ECNL output (6 goals in 12 games) at Jeff Cup.
Strike FC Premier 2-1 McLean YS 96 ECNL
Rank this one as the upset of the day.
After getting a game under their belt for the first time since November, a loss to PSC on Friday, Strike FC of Wisconsin rebounded well with an unexpected 2-1 victory over powerhouse McLean, who suffered through a poor display by their own lofty standards.
Sabrina DuPaix hit paydirt off a corner for Strike FC to open the scoring in the first half.
+READ: John Harkes ramps up coaching career, joins McLean Youth Soccer (Va.) as technical advisor
“It was a near post run, and a redirect with the outside of her foot. It was a really nice goal. She beat her defender to the ball, lot of pace on it,” Strike FC coach Rob Lestina said.
Shortly after the break, the Wisconsinites made it 2-0 off the foot of Merin Mundt, who found herself with the ball at her feet after some great defensive pressure. Mundt took a touch with her left foot before curling a shot into the far post.
Lestina was really proud of how his team performed, slowly getting better with each minute on the pitch after the harsh winter.
+READ: Jefferson Cup a long way from icy home for Wisconsin’s Strike FC Premier U-18s
“It was good. I thought in the first 20 minutes [on Friday] we struggled dealing with the bigger spaces. The second half, we got better, and we continued to improve [on Saturday].
“McLean, they are a very good team. I thought we were very organized, worked very hard. I thought we did a good job of turning them over in the middle, turning them into dangerous chances moving forward. They had more possession than us, but I thought we created some very good chances for ourselves also.”
On the opposite bench, McLean coach Nadir Moumen said his team’s poor decision-making cost them.
Lestina and his girls are proud of the result and hope to continue on Sunday against NY Rush.
“I think there are a lot of good players, well organized teams [here],” he said. “There are a lot of kids that are technical. We are running into a lot of teams with college bound players, and that is another reason we came.”
PSC Baltimore 2, PWSI Courage 1
Rage SC Blackhawks 2, Bethesda United 0
Potomac Hotspur 1, Beadling Gunners 1
Strike FC 2, McLean US 96 1
NY Rush 1, VSA Heat Blue 1
Richmond United 4, SAC United 0
LOOKING AHEAD TO SUNDAY
Strike FC vs. NY Rush, 8 a.m.
PWSI Courage vs. SAC United, 11:20 a.m.
Bethesda United vs. Beadling Gunners, 11:20 a.m.
Rage SC vs. Richmond United, 11:20 a.m.
PSC Baltimore vs. McLean YS, 1 p.m.
Potomac Hotspur vs. VSA Heat, 1 p.m.