Whitecaps FC Girls Elite opened the NCAA Final Four Showcase with a bang as they put together a solid game, comfortably beating FC Dallas 3-0.
“The group started a little bit nervous, there was about 40 different coaches on the sidelines from different colleges,” said Whitecaps FC Girls Elite head coach Jesse Symons. “They started off a bit shaky in this environment. The longer the game went on, the more and more comfortable they were and really started to work for each other.”
The team got off to a slow start despite a great early scoring chance from striker Seina Kashima that went just wide.
In the 20th minute of the game, striker Margaret Hadley subbed in for the 'Caps.
It turned out to be a great decision. Just six minutes later Hadley opening the scoring, putting her team up 1-0.
The play started with Kashima charging up the field with the ball before crossing the ball in back post for Hadley, who threw a header and scored.
“That really settled us down. We started to keep the ball, we had FC Dallas chasing us for the rest of the half,” said Symons.
A big part of the victory was the team’s defence, said Symons. The 'Caps girls were able to dictate the play in their own zone and shut down FC Dallas’ top offensive threats.
After a few more quality scoring changes, the Whitecaps went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The coach said he also noticed a distinct shift in his players’ attitude during the game. This shift was also one of the keys to the girls' victory.
“Early on I would say the team was focused more individually. Once they settled down and started really playing with more rhythm they really started connecting well,” he said. “The girls really calmed down and started to play off each other and work hard to get on the ball.”
In the 72nd minute, Whitecaps’ Sessen Stevens dribbled down the lane where she cut the ball back to Selena Odegard.
Odegard then sent the ball through the box to Monika Levarsky who made no mistakes putting the shot in the top left corner, making the game 2-0.
The 'Caps didn’t stop there. Just three minutes later Rachel Jones got the ball on the left side of the field and was able to heroically get through four FC Dallas players to put one past the 'keeper.
Jones’ goal made it 3-0, where the score would remain.
It will be no rest for the girls as they're back into action Friday morning at 8 a.m. when they will face Sting Blue 96 from Texas. The game will take place on the immaculate grass at the Arco Olympic training facility.
Whitecaps FC Girls Elite starting lineup
Priya Sandhu; Hannah Carrothers, Selena Odegard, Nikki Turney, Rachel Jones, Sam Donald, Reetu Johal, Chelsea Harkins, Sessen Stevens, Monika Levarsky, Seina Kashima
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