CHULA VISTA, California – It was the boys versus the girls, a pseudo battle of the sexes, during the final day of the U17 Women’s National Team Camp at the Olympic Training Center on Saturday.
In what was a circus-like atmosphere with BMX Olympic Qualifiers taking place only feet away, the U.S. U17 WNT took on boys’ teams from local clubs San Diego Surf and Nomads SC on the last day of the June camp – the first of the three training camps before the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Azerbaijan in late September.
The U17s lost to San Diego Surf boys U15/U14 2-0 in the first game, but rebounded with 3-3 draw against Nomads SC U15/U14 in the later game.
Sarah Robinson (MVLA) scored twice and Summer Green (Michigan Hawks) added another from the penalty spot against Nomads.
U17 WNT head coach Albertin Montoya divided up the camp roster between the two games and saw positive things from both groups, which is only going to make his decisions more difficult as he continues to trim the roster in the coming months.
U17 WNT 0-2 San Diego Surf boys U15/U14
San Diego Surf came away with a 2-0 win, but the result was much closer than the score indicated.
Surf enjoyed the better of the play early with a lengthy spell of possession to start the game.
The one-sided possession did not jibe well with coach Montoya and forced him off his normal perch on the backrest of the bench. He barked out orders to his center midfielders to actually put in a challenge against the boys.
Jo Boyles (CASL Chelsea Ladies), Jaye Boissierre (MVLA), and Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush) immediately took to the command and put the U17 WNT in control of the possession after the opening five minutes.
“I thought our possession was quite good,” Montoya told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. “I was pleased with how we worked out of pressure - something that I thought we needed to work on after CONCACAF especially from the Canada game.”
While the U17 WNT held possession, the lively Surf wingers still managed to pose problems against the U17 defense, and grabbed the first chance of the game after 12 minutes.
A Surf winger was sent in on goal down the right side off a diagonal pass from a midfielder. U17 goalkeeper Carissa Miller (Sereno FC) was up for the challenge and kept the effort out of her net.
Montoya’s squad responded with a chance of its own as Stanton tried her luck from distance, but she did not get hold of it as well as she would have liked and the Surf keeper made the easy save.
From that point, the game opened up for both teams.
Surf nearly had the first goal after 20 minutes when a forward broke through the defense via a nice combination play against the high line U.S. defense. However, Miller’s challenge forced the forward to go wide and his shot missed the open net.
Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche) answered with a chance for the national team. The winger held her run perfectly and Boyles sent a great ball over the top for her to run onto. With a defender on her hip, Bruder ripped a shot on goal, but the Surf goalkeeper snagged the shot with a diving save.
Two minutes before half, Surf finally found the back of the net. A sloppy turnover by outside back Gabrielle Matullich (MVLA), who was otherwise very good on the day, gave Surf an opportunity for a quick counterattack.
The boys seized the chance and sprung a winger through the defense. Miller was quick off her line, but she could not prevent the shot from nestling into the corner of the goal.
The national team went to half down a goal, and then compounded the deficit with a lethargic start to the second half.
Two minutes after the start of the second half another Surf attacker broke down the left side and hammered a shot into the inside of the post for the second and final goal of the game.
“Their goals came on a couple of our mistakes, which has happened all week long,” Montoya lamented. “The other team’s opportunities tend to come from our mistakes and not necessarily great buildup . . . at least that was the case in the first game.”
The U.S. had a handful of chances in the latter half to get on the board though.
“The one thing we wanted in that [Surf] game was more possession in the attacking third,” Montoya said. “We made a couple of adjustments at half and created more opportunities in the second half.”
Early in the half, substitute winger Arielle Ship (Real So Cal) picked off a pass across the back four. She sped past one defender and then gave the ball to striker Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC) in the middle of the box.
Sullivan, who is more commonly referred to by the endearing nickname ‘Sunshine’, cut around one defender but leaned too far back on the shot and saw her effort fly over the bar.
A dozen minutes later, Ship was again in the middle of a quality chance. Outside right back Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies) sent a cross into the box that Ship muscled a few defenders off before laying it off to Stanton.
This time the Colorado midfielder got all of it on the volley. Yet, somehow the young Surf keeper provided an astounding diving, one-handed save to keeper Stanton’s effort out of the net.
Both Ship and Bruder had shots as well in the final 20 minutes of the game, but the Surf keeper was up to the task for both and ended the day with five saves and a shutout.
Montoya spoke glowingly of the play from Boyles and Sullivan after the game.
“[Sullivan] does a good job keeping the ball, which allows us to join her in the attack,” Montoya said about playing Sullivan in the target role. “She had a very good game.
“Jo Boyles was outstanding, and she has been all camp long,” he added. “I was very happy for her. Jo Boyles is a soccer player and she has a great soccer brain in her. This camp, she was on and it helped us possess the ball.”
U.S. U17 WNT lineup:
Carissa Miller; Morgan Reid, Claire Wagner, Elizabeth Raben, Gabrielle Matulich; Jaye Boissiere, Morgan Stanton, Jo Boyles; Emily Bruder, Amber Munerlyn, Andi Sullivan
Arielle Ship for Munerlyn (41’)
Munerlyn for Boissiere (61’)
Substitutes not used: Morgan Sterns
U17 Women’s National Team 3-3 Nomads SC U14/U15
In the second game, it looked like Montoya’s group would claim a win against the boys team from La Jolla.
Midway through the second half, the U17 WNT held a 3-1 lead and looked to be in a comfortable position to see the game out.
But U14 Boys National Team forward Joe Gallardo was having none of that and took over the game in the dying stages to deliver two goals to earn a draw (and spare the realization of every teenage boy’s greatest fear – losing to a girl).
“We have to learn from it,” Montoya remarked afterward. “Being up 3-1, we kept sending numbers forward. [The coaching staff] did not say anything about it [during the game], but I told them you have to learn from that. It became a track meet and we didn’t want a track meet with these boys.”
On top of the tired legs from the national team that was wrapping up an exhausting seven-day camp, Montoya only had 11 field players dressed for the game.
The start of the second game was a lot like the opening stages of the first. Nomads had pep to their step and grabbed an early lead when the U17 defense failed to clear the ball from its box.
A Nomads forward sauntered in, breezed past a few defenders, and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire) for the opening goal after only two minutes.
Summer Green, in typical Summer Green fashion, helped the U.S. rebound immediately. The Michigan forward was allowed space to turn about 30 yards from goal. Never shy with the ball around the goal, Green decided to fire off a shot from there.
The Nomads keeper stopped the initial shot, but left the rebound on the doorstep. Sarah Robinson never gave up on the play and calmly put in the tying goal.
From there, the U17 WNT enjoyed the much better spell of play, but only had a couple of chances before half. The national team made the most of the opportunities though.
With five minutes left in the half, midfielder Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC) sent Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer) in on goal with a splendid pass. Purce surprisingly took the shot early, and the Nomads keeper was able to keep it out of the net.
Two minutes later, the U.S. grabbed the lead and again it was the Green to Robinson combination.
Green, now not afforded an inch a space after her early strike, smartly used the tight pressure from the Nomads defenders to let the ball roll past her and then spun around her mark.
Racing along the end line, Green looked up for a friendly face and found Robinson open six yards from goal. The midfielder slotted it into the net for her second of the first half.
The Nomads were on the front foot in the second half and almost had the tying goal after five minutes. With a forward turning the final U17 defender, Nomads had a great chance to get back on level ground. But Campbell came up big with a sprawling save to stop the shot and then knock it out for a corner.
The U.S. grabbed its third goal after 58 minutes when Purce sprinted past the defense down the right side and then was taken down in the box. The referee awarded a penalty kick, but no one from the national team initially stepped forward to take it.
Eventually, Green turned to Montoya and asked who he wanted to take it. The coach replied, “Figure it out.”
So naturally, the striker who scored a record setting 12 goals at the CONCACAF Championship, grabbed the ball from the referee and converted the spot kick.
After that, the Gallardo show began.
The boys national team striker picked up the ball in the middle of the field about 25 yards from goal. He quickly turned and fired with his left foot, which was blocked by Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC), but the rebound went directly to Gallardo’s right foot.
This time his shot flew past Freeman and Campbell and into the goal.
With four minutes left in the game, Gallardo again broke free from a defender and skated through the left side before rifling a shot past Campbell for the equalizer.
The U17 WNT had one last chance before the final whistle in stoppage time Green broke through the Nomads defense on the counterattack.
“We can take advantage of teams trying to press and we can hit them on the encounter, which we almost did at the end,” Montoya added about what he took away from the day.
With substitute Toni Payne (Concorde Fire) along side her and a defender between the two, Green fed the diagonal pass to Payne to send her in on goal. Payne’s shot drifted wide of the post and left the teams on level terms after the 80-minute scrimmage.
“It was an entertaining game,” the coach said. “Quite happy with building out of the back and connecting. We did a much better job in the second game being dangerous and combining up top.”
U17 WNT lineup:
Jane Campbell; Gabbi Miranda, Madeline Bauer, Miranda Freeman, Brittany Basinger; Morgan Andrews, Lauren Kaskie, Sarah Robinson; Darian Jenkins, Midge Purce, Summer Green
Toni Payne for Robinson (41’)
Robinson for Jenkins (73’)
Substitutes not used: Morgan Stearns
J.R. Eskilson is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Send him an email.