CARSON, Calif. – Night and day.
That was the best way to describe the difference between the U.S. U14 Girls National Team performance on Thursday and from the last camp back in May.
Thursday’s showcase featured a pair of games against Cal South ODP 98 and 97s. From top to bottom, the U14 GNT looked very impressive in both games with 3-1 and 2-1 victories to boot.
From the possession to the attack to the defense, it was a complete game from the U14 GNT against the local ODP squad, which left the coaching staff very satisfied with how far this group has come.
“Very pleased, I thought some of the players took it to another level tonight,” U.S. Soccer Director of Women’s Development Jill Ellis told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The tempo was fantastic, especially in the second game against a very good team.”
U.S. U14 Girls National Team ‘A’ 2-1 Cal South ODP ‘97s
Zoe Morris (Michigan Hawks) scored with six minutes left off a corner kick to secure the win for the youth national team in the second game of the evening at the Home Depot Center.
Morris beat her defender to a high floating cross into the box and headed home the winner in the 64th minute to cap off a very strong game from the center back.
The defender’s game-winner came only moments after Cal South ODP had equalized off a fluky goal.
U14 GNT goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski (Concorde Fire) received a pass back from one of her center backs. With light pressure, she hit the ball forward but drilled it directly into a Cal South forward who directed it into the open net.
The odd giveaway was an unfair mark on an otherwise very good outing by Krzeczowski. The keeper from Georgia made two excellent saves in the first half.
“A bit unlucky on the goal we gave up, but on the day, I thought we played good possession and deserved the result,” Ellis said. “Again, it is not about the result but I thought they did very well.”
Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado) had the opening goal of the game in the 29th minute when she linked up with Madison Shultz (Northwest Nationals) to beat the Cal South defense.
The combination play between Pugh and Shultz allowed the Coloradoan speedster to break in free on goal. The Cal South keeper raced off her line to cut down the angle, but Pugh calmly slotted her shot around the keeper and into the net.
Mikayla Krzeczowski (Concorde Fire); Courtney Jones (Carmel United), Zoe Morse (Michigan Hawks), Carly Malatskey (Slammers FC), Mary Alice Vignola (Ohio Elite); Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting), Jlon Flippens (FC Delco), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado); Kristina Fisher (FC Florida), Sunny Dunphy (Carlsbad Elite), Madison Shultz (Northwest Nationals)
Second half subs:
Miranda Jimenez (Cal Odyssey South), Margaret Halvorson (Colorado Storm), Roisin Allaeddini (Slammers FC)
Unofficial stats – U14/ODP:
Shots on goal: 7/3
Corner kicks: 5/4
U.S. U14 Girls National Team 3-1 Cal South ODP ‘98
Malia Berkely (Fairfield Optimist Club) scored two goals in the final four minutes of the game to break a 1-1 deadlock and give the youth national team the win.
The first game was broken down into three 25-minute periods so the U14 GNT could see more players get minutes.
Berkely, who came on to start the third period, definitely took advantage of her time on the field. Her first goal came thanks to Kaitlin Higgins (FC Lehigh Valley United), who torched her mark with a sweet move then drilled a cross to the far post. Berkley tapped it in.
The forward from Ohio did all the hardwork on the second goal though. She stole the ball from the final defender, raced in on net, and then deftly placed her shot under the sliding keeper for her second goal of the game.
“I think some of the players in the first game showed us a lot more in match play than [the coaching staff] has seen thus far in training,” Ellis said without specifically picking any one play out. “It was good to see, but now we need to have a good training mentality so we can bring those habits from games into training.”
Ireland Dunn (Utah Avalanche) had the opening goal for the U14 GNT in the 8th minute. Dunn received a pass at the top of the box, turned to face goal, and lofted a shot over the keeper and into the net.
Cal South answered in the first minute of the second period. A cross from the left side squirted through the defense and fell to a Cal South midfielder who ripped a shot past the defense and into the net.
Kaylie Collins (Mustang SC); Julia Bingham (Albion SC), Jalen Woodward (Crossfire Premier), Samantha Bruder (Real So Cal), Jaylyn Thompson (PDA); Taylor Ziemer (Santa Rosa United), Shea Moyer (FC Revolution), Daria Petredes (Corinthians SC); Jenna Bike (Connecticut FC), Brianne Folds (Lakeland FC), Ireland Dunn (Utah Avalanche)
Susana Espinoza (FC Florida); Camryn Dyke (Colorado Rush), Alexa Ferreira (PDA), Emily Langenderfer (STORM), Quinn Murphy (Lonestar SC), Kennedy Smith (Irvine Strikers FC), Alexandra Soree (Boca United), Nicole Whitley (PDA)
Unofficial stats – U14/Cal South:
Shots – 14/7
Shots on goal – 9/5
Corner kicks – 2/1