Girls Academy Champions Cup Final Recaps

Girls Academy Champions Cup Final Recaps
by Travis Clark
March 15, 2023

The first three finals of the Girls Academy Champions Cup took place on Monday down at IMG Academy, as the weekend competition wraps on Tuesday.

MORE: Girls Academy Champions Cup Standouts | Champions Cup Scores | Photo Gallery

The recap below will be updated after the last three finals take place.

U15: Nationals Blue holds off TopHat Gold

In a rematch of last year’s Champions Cup final, a rematch between TopHat Gold and Nationals Blue lived up to its billing. Both teams battled through a tough U15 field to make it to Tuesday’s final, as Nationals captured the 08 age group.

A great goal from McKenzie Godfrey opened the scoring, as a finish from just outside the box put the Georgia squad in front. Keeping the Nationals’ attack – led by Micayla Johnson and Lily Jeakle – off the board was always going to be a big challenge. The breakthrough came just before the half, as Jeakle converted a penalty to tie the game.

Five minutes into the second half, Nationals hit the post, off a rebound from a great shot by Johnson that was saved by goalkeeper Alexia-Mae Goodman. After TopHat had a couple of set piece chances, Nationals came again. A great run down the right flank by Sloane Popov setup Jeakle for a great opportunity in the 52nd minute; Goodman made a great save to keep the game tied.

Nationals’ attack did not let up, and the go-ahead goal finally came in the 56th minute. It was Johnson that finished a chance this time, slipped in behind to make it a 2-1 game.

Now needing a goal, TopHat’s attack searched for ways forward. The battle between Godfrey and Conamora Ndana in and around the Nationals’ defensive half was of particular interest, while TopHat midfielder Madilyn Wright’s ability to cover ground and win the ball helped jump start key moments.

Continuing to pile pressure forward, TopHat was nearly rewarded in stoppage time when Chloe Lawson smashed a shot off the crossbar. That would be the final chance of the game, however, as the Nationals defense held on for the win. It marks the third straight Girls Academy national triumph for the Nationals Blue 08 squad after winning last year's Champions Cup and playoff crowns.

U17: Albion SC San Diego overcomes IMG Academy Elite comeback

It was a wild ride for Albion SC to the Under-17 final on Monday morning.

The California powerhouse opened up the Champions Cup Finals with a close 2-1 win against South Shore Select. Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup with TopHat Gold ended in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes; Albion outlasted the Georgia side by an 11-10 mark in the shootout. A 1-0 win secured a spot in the final against IMG Academy, and was perhaps the craziest matchup of them all.

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, IMG Academy rallied, jump started by a great finish from Carla Small. But Albion stood tall in overtime, winning the Under-17 Champions Cup final by a 4-3 margin from a set piece.

U19: Florida United rallies to best SC Wave

The SC Wave 05/04 squad had stitched together an impressive run in Florida. The Wisconsin side opened up the week in dominant fashion, besting Lamorinda United by a 4-1 score. Close wins against two Northeast sides NEFC (1-0) and Oakwood SC (2-1) secured a spot in Monday’s Under-19 final.

Forty-five minutes into the clash, SC Wave was sitting pretty, up 1-0 at the half. But Florida United’s front-three of Juju Harris, Ashley Pennie and Kimmi Ascanio jumped to life from the opening whistle of the second stanza, scoring 20 seconds into the second half. A second soon followed, leaving SC Wave on the hunt for a comeback.

SC Wave kept the pressure up, looking to tie the game – including a chance that was fired just over the bar late in the second half.

U13: Youngest age group secured by TopHat Gold

In the Under-13 age group, TopHat Gold picked up the win on the back of a 1-0 win against Lonestar SC. The Georgia side opened up the Champions Cup with a 9-0 defeat of the Spokane Sounders, before beating City SC 3-0 and TSJ FC Virginia 2-0.

U14: Drama at the death sees Cincinnati United win

Tied 1-1 in the 80th minute, it appeared as if overtime was destined in the U14 finale between Cincinnati United and Houston Dash.

However, set pieces can provide game-changing moments, and a headed finished secured a 2-1 win for Cincinnati in the Champions Cup final. Melania Seay bagged the game winner. Addy Zawaly opened the scoring for the title winners.

It capped off a strong week for the Ohio side, which opened up with a 9-1 win against Utah Celtic in the Round of 16. After that, the team advanced past a talented TopHat Gold squad, before advancing past South Shore Select to setup Tuesday's final matchup against the Dash.

U16: Cincinnati United secures second title triumph

In Tuesday's final title tilt, both Nationals Blue and Cincinnati United had chances to secure a second Champions Cup triumph.

At the final whistle, it was the Ohio side that had triumphed, holding off a valiant effort from Nationals Blue to win by a 4-3 score. It was a 4-2 margin heading into second half stoppage tiime, with a late consolation providing the final margin.

The win capped off a strong showing for Cincinnati United. Prior to the final, the talented team had yet to concede a goal in Florida. That included a 3-0 win against Utah Celtic, advancing past TopHat SC by a 1-0 score, and a 4-0 semifinal win over Houston Dash.

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