LAKE BUENA VISTA – The Clearwater Chargers’ girls under-17 team won all five of its games, including a 4-0 victory against Kendall in the final, to win its division at the Disney Soccer Showcase Qualifier at the Wide World of Sports complex on Monday evening.
The Chargers took the lead against Kendall in the 22nd minute through Molly Ganther, and then got an outstanding solo effort by Taylor Richardson less than a minute into the second half for a 2-0 lead.
“Taylor is an exciting player to watch,” Clearwater coach Sergei Stopak said. “She’s got great pace, and it’s nice to see her evolve. She used to make runs like this, but now to start finishing them off, it’s great to see, absolutely wonderful.”
Jennifer Casey and Sierra Lelii also scored for the Chargers, who earned a berth in the Disney Soccer Showcase by reaching the final. Stopak said qualifying for the top division of December’s tournament meant a lot to the team.
“That was another big thing we wanted to do,” Stopak said. “We knew we wanted to win the showcase qualifier so we could be in the top flight of the showcase.”
RSL Florida’s under-18 team also qualified for December’s showcase by reaching its division final, but fell 4-3 in a penalty shootout against the Florida Rush after the two teams had played to a 0-0 draw after regulation and overtime.
Both sides had chances to score in regulation, RSL goalkeeper Jordan Hatton making a number of good saves and RSL having a free kick cleared off the line by a Rush defender. RSL coach Jim Cote said he was pleased the team had achieved its main objective of getting to return to December’s tournament.
RSL had accomplished that by defeating the Clearwater Chargers 2-0 in the semifinals, but it wasn’t able to continue its momentum into the final against a team it had beaten over the summer.
“We’ve beaten them the last three or four times, including a couple of thumpings this summer, so I was a little bit surprised,” Cote said. “We played a little bit cautious this afternoon, and I talked about that at half time, and I thought the second half was better.
“I thought defensively we got behind the ball well, I just didn’t think we converted well in the final third. We ended up with a lot of balls where we were 18, 20 yards from goal and making a bad decision. Going to their goal with a little bit better judgment, little bit more time together, maybe we’ll make some better decisions.”