The "Girls in Red" From FC Pride Advance to Semifinals After Defeating
South Shore Select Elite From Massachusetts at the
2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships
FC Pride Head Coach Matt Blackbourne was pleased with his team and the result.
“It means everything,” said Blackbourne. “They want to dunk me with that ice bucket.”
The feat didn’t come easy. Both teams went into the match with a 1-1-0 record and three points - South Shore in second place and FC Pride in third in Group A.
To add to the challenge, FC Pride went down a goal when South Shore forward Brooke Cavino was left alone up top. Cavino received a pass that bounced once on the ground and she volleyed it into the net in the 35th minute for the lead.
“We had to win this game,” said Blackbourne. “The kids were really resilient. We’ve won tournaments like that before. They’re used to doing it. It’s part of their psyche. They know how to come back in games, so I trust them.”
The pep talk worked and in the second half FC Pride forward Abby Isger ran up to the box, was met by South Shore’s keeper who came out of the net, and shot a powerful strike to the open net to tie in the 37th minute.
“We knew we had to face the speed of South Shore’s center back,” said Blackbourne. “We had to get into that space. We had one chance and it fell to our number 6, who arguably is the goal scorer of our team. Ultimately she put it away as she normally does.”
The tie put FC Pride back in the game, but the Indiana side needed a win to advance to the knockout round.
Blackbourne said, “I told our team they had to score two goals - because otherwise our season was done. It looms over your head that ultimately this is the end if you lose.”
In the 67th minute, a corner kick in FC Pride’s favor led to a foul and a penalty kick call that changed the match. FC Pride’s Isger went up to take the kick and slotted the ball right alongside the right post for the 2-0 lead.
“It’s a difficult decision,” said Blackbourne. “It’s one of those situations where a kid goes up with a foot, and in the middle of the field it will always be called as a foul, but they’re not always given in the box. Over the course of the year, there are some games that we don’t have the luck and there’s some games that we do. The nice thing is we stepped up and made it count when it happened.”
The penalty kick ended up being the game winner and it advanced FC Pride to the semifinal to face Region IV champs Legends FC Gold (CA-S).
Cheers were shouted at the sound of the final whistle and FC Pride players rushed the field to celebrate the victory.
“Their performance was awesome,” said Blackbourne. “It was a question of survival of the fittest. It was well deserved.”
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