CHULA VISTA, CALIFORNIA -- The U.S. U17 Women’s National Team pounced on college side UC Irvine from the opening whistle in a 3-0 victory on Wednesday here at the Olympic Training Center.
Morgan Stanton, Emily Bruder, and Margaret Purce all found the back of the net in the opening 25 minutes in the first scrimmage of the U17 team’s final training camp before the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Guatemala.
“Overall, very pleased with our performance from start to finish,” U17 WNT head coach Albertin Montoya told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. “I think we are getting closer to the way I envisioned us playing – possessing the ball, playing it out of the back, and at the same time combining that with the pace that we have.”
That pace was on full display in the opening five minutes when Bruder beat her mark and whipped in a cross. Stanton eventually ripped the ball into upper corner, after a brief scramble in the box between players fighting for possession of the ball.
The U.S. never looked back.
Two minutes later, Bruder turned into scorer when right back Brittany Basinger delivered a cross over the top of the UC Irvine defense. Bruder stepped in front of her mark, took a touch, and then slotted the ball into the net.
The Anteaters were nearly back in the mix 10 minutes later when Natalie Ledezma audaciously tried her luck 35 yards from goal. The forward’s shot clanged off the cross bar, and was cleared by the U.S. defense.
Ledezma scored 11 goals last season for UC Irvine and offered a tricky challenge for the U.S. defense, but Montoya’s group was up for the task.
“I think our back line has been exceptional for the last few months,” Montoya said. “Our two center backs are committed to defending and working together, and you also have to give credit all around for the defensive performance.”
That defensive effort from every player was highlighted by the third goal of the game when Summer Green raced back to track a mark and executed a picture-perfect slide tackle.
Green popped up with the ball, took a few touches before dropping a 40-yard pass over the top of the defense into the path of Purce. The speedy striker burned one defender, and then ripped a shot inside the far post for the final goal of the game in the 25th minute.
“I put a lot of emphasis on our forwards working hard for our team,” Montoya said. “They set the tone.”
The U.S. continued to pressure in the second half, but the UC Irvine keeper, Jennifer Randazzo, came up with five saves.
The second stanza did not end without note though. A rash sliding challenge from behind saw U.S. captain Morgan Andrews leave the game with an injury. She walked off the field under her own power, and then jogged for a few minutes on the sideline. Her coach believed she would be okay though.
Montoya also added that he thought the team bought into the plan of what he wants this team to bring into World Cup Qualifying.
“This is how we have been playing for a few months,” he said. “We want to put pressure on them and commit as a team to defending. That is what I am most proud of – we are committing as a team to defending.”
The high-pressure defense and commitment to winning the ball back limited UC Irvine to only a few chances in the game.
“These are 15 and 16 year olds playing against a very good college team,” Montoya said. “Overall, not too shabby.”
Jane Campbell; Brittany Basinger, Madeline Bauer, Miranda Freeman, Gabbi Miranda; Morgan Andrews, Morgan Stanton, Lauren Kaskie; Summer Green, Margaret Purce, Emily Bruder
Toni Payne, Amber Munerlyn, Darian Jenkins;