The Waynesboro Dynamite U18 girls' soccer team capped an outstanding run in the US Youth Soccer President’s Cup with a berth in the Regional Championship match Jun. 18 in Barboursville, West Virginia, where they fell to champions Vereingigung Erzebirge United (VE) from Bucks County, Pa.
The Dynamite's run began back in April, when they advanced to the finals Pennsylvania President’s Cup Tourney, which earned them a wildcard birth to regionals. The US Soccer East Region is comprised of 13 States from Virginia to Maine, with state champions and wildcard finalists invited to the event.
The regional event was in a World Cup format with the Dynamite a member of a 4-team pool. The Dynamite opened play Saturday, Jun. 16 against the host Charleston Soccer Club from West Virginia. The Dynamite proved to be too much for the host club, as the Dynamite rolled to a convincing 6-0 pool play match win. Gabriella Lecuona led the Dynamite with a hat trick, while Skyler Lambert, Julia Nye, and Taylor Clawson also contributed goals.
Saturday afternoon brought the team temperatures in the mid-90s, and a new opponent in Columbia Premier Soccer Club out of Maryland. The Dynamite struck first when Layne Kimple and Julia Nye pressured the back line of Columbia, and a loose ball fell in behind the defensive line. Nye outraced others to the ball and beat the keeper cleanly to score the game’s first goal.
Late in the half, Columbia converted a penalty kick to knot the game at 1-1. Neither team was able to convert on their chances until the 87th minute. The Dynamite were awarded a corner kick, and Audrey Foreman delivered a perfect ball just off the back post, where Clawson ran through the ball, playing it across the goal line for a 2-1 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. Two minutes later, Lecuona’s free kick found Clawson in the box again who one-timed a shot past the keeper to wrap up a hard fought 3-1 win.
Stafford Soccer Club (VA) was next up Sunday morning with both teams having 2 wins in pool play.
Early in match, the Dynamite found themselves playing in their defensive third, but they refused to concede the game's first goal. It was again a corner kick from Foreman onto the head of Clawson that ended the stalemate midway thru the first half.
Clawson's opener sparked a tidal wave of momentum. Lambert turned the corner on an attack at the near post and found Clawson for a shot that was saved but not controlled by a sprawling keeper, and Lecuona hammered home the rebound for a 2-0 lead. The Dynamite added goals from Clawson, Breanna Dukehart, and Sevannah Perkins to round out a convincing 5-0 pool play win, with helped Dynamite into the semi-final round as the #1 seed.
In the semi-final match Sunday afternoon, the Dynamite faced off with SAC Premier Blue (MD). The Dynamite controlled play early, but could not find the net, as the SAC keeper made several quality saves.
SAC’s best chance came in the 64th minute, when a SAC winger struck a shot toward the back post upper 90. Dynamite keeper Kellyn Perry retreated quickly to make an incredible one-handed save to keep the game scoreless. In the 83rd minute, Foreman took a Dynamite corner kick that was headed away by a SAC defender back to Foreman’s feet. Foreman played a lofted ball back across the face of goal that allowed Clawson to head home the games only goal.
The East Region Championship match pitted two Pennsylvania East teams against one another, with the Dynamite taking on VE United, the team that beat them for the Pennsylvania Championship 5-0.
The Dynamite also entered the contest without the services of Clawson and Foreman and just 11 players total. Clawson led the tourney with 6 goals, while Foreman was not only assisted on 3 game winning goals to Clawson, but also anchored the defense that had allowed only one goal in the last 6 matches.
Understanding the challenge, the Dynamite came out strong and had multiple chances early. In the 14th minute, Breanna Dukehart played Lecuona in behind the VE defense, and she beat the VE keeper cleanly for a 1-0 lead. The team fed off the early goal and carried the 1-0 lead to the half.
Early in the 2nd half, VE struck back when Gabriella Sowers, despite being well marked, was able to lunge and redirect a cross into the side netting to knot the game 1-1. The Dynamite answered right back when Lambert passed to Kimple on the back post, who finished cleanly to make it 2-1.
As the game wore on, the Dynamite found themselves more and more in their own end, as VE continued to bring on fresh legs while sending numbers forward. In the 76th minute, VE forward Emma Maley broke through the Dynamite midfield to score tying goal.
Just minutes later, a run down the left flank was played back to the middle, where VE's Caroling Weir won a one-on-one battle in the box to score the game-winning goal.
Clawson (6) and Lecuona (5) led the tourney in scoring, while Foreman was credited with 4 assists. Nye, a senior at Shippensburg high school, finished with 2 goals and 3 assists.
The Dynamite defense gave up a tourney low 4 goals, led by Foreman and Lauren Ocker at center back, while Cassidy Martin, Ashley Bawell, and Alex Cottingham were outstanding in their roles as outside backs.
Coach Clawson congratulated VE on their play and wished them well at Nationals.
“No 11 girls worked harder, or gave more of themselves today than these 11 girls in blue,” Clawson said of his team.” I could not be any more proud of the them.”
The Dynamite team consists of girls from Waynesboro, Chambersburg, James Buchanan, Shippensburg, and McConnellsburg. The group competes in College Showcase Events and is currently ranked No. 7 in the state.
VE will represent the East Region at the US Youth Soccer U18 Girls President’s Cup National Championship to be held in Westfield, Indiana July 12-14.