LAFC Slammers win U-18/19 Girls Development Academy title
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (Via U.S. Soccer) – One goal proved to be enough for LAFC Slammers to clinch the first-ever U-18/19 Girls’ Academy Championship. Abigail Gruebel found the back of the net in the 27th and an impenetrable back line led the Southwest Division’s top finishers to the national title.
Solar Soccer Club entered the final with the Playoffs’ most-dynamic offense, but a stout defensive showing from the Slammers locked down the trophy for the SoCal squad.
— Development Academy (@ussoccer_acad) June 30, 2018
Neither team was able to threaten much in the early going as the cross-conference opponents felt each other out. Solar SC was patient in its build-up, but the Frontier Division leaders had trouble finding the final pass into the box. Solar players Samantha Meza, Alexis Missimo and Trinity Byars combined well but weren’t able to penetrate a water-tight LAFC back line. The Slammers were dangerous on the break and earned some opportunities off of threatening crosses from Natalie Hueston.
After some early warning shots towards the Solar goal, LAFC broke through in the 27th minute. The Slammers’ Gruebel won a ball in the air, tapped it forward to Madison Louderback, who battled to control the ball and quickly return it to Gruebel. She dribbled past a defender and then launched a rocket of a shot from the top of the penalty box circle to open the scoring for LAFC.
Solar continued to see its attempts build out as the half progressed, but the Slammers’ back line squashed any threatening movement forward. In the opening frame, the defense shut down a Solar attack that had been the most electric in Oceanside throughout the Playoffs. Solar wasn’t able to get numbers into the box as LAFC thwarted any possession that neared the final third.
The pace picked up in the second half and midway through, Solar swung the momentum its way with a series of attacking runs. The Dallas-based club broke through the stout LAFC back line for the first time as the attacking midfield combined well. Solar’s best chance of the game came in the 58th, as a give-and-go found Sam Meza on the run through the midfield. She slotted it up to Byers on the edge of the final third and the forward threaded the ball to a streaking Courtney Sebazco. She hit a hard ball towards goal as she approached the end line, but LAFC goalkeeper Giulia Cascapera got her body in front of the ball.
Solar continued to play with urgency as the club pressed for an equalizer. It earned some chances off of its first two corner kick attempts of the game, and Genevieve Watkins made some nice runs forward to spark the attack. While Solar was able to put shots on goal, it still had trouble breaking down the stout LAFC defense, and most of its attempts came from deep.
As the final whistle blew, the Slammers’ bench cleared, racing towards center field knowing that the SoCal squad had just made history.