LAKE BUENA VISTA – The East Lake Arsenal advanced to the semifinals of the Disney Junior Soccer Showcase’s girls under-14 showcase division with a 1-0 victory against Solar FC from Texas in its final pool game on Saturday morning at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
East Lake, which won the Florida State Cup in the spring, also defeated the Braddock Road Elite from Virginia and ASA Xtreme Elite from Georgia, building their success on a tight defensive unit that held all three opponents scoreless. While led by goalkeeper Rachel Taylor, and anchored by defender Gina Davis, East Lake coach Diego Viera said the side’s defensive record was a tribute to the work all 11 players on the field put in to defending as a unit.
“Gina Davis is a great defender, and it’s a lot of help,” Viera said, “but I think that our first defender is our center forward. It’s teamwork, everybody goes and I get to see in the effort on the field if they are able to be on this team. I can’t have any complaints about that part, so I’m more than happy with the team that I have, and I’m looking forward to seeing the semifinals tomorrow.”
The Brandon Flames also advanced into the boys under-13 Predator division semifinals, going 2-0-1 in pool play to advance. After a pair of victories on the opening day, the Flames drew 2-2 with Birmingham United on Saturday, and will play West Pines United in Sunday’s semifinals.
“Today, we didn’t play particularly well, but the first two games I was particularly pleased with the way that we used our combination play between the forwards and midfielders,” Flames coach John Clare said. “We were able to control the game a lot more, get our backs forward better, that pleased me the most, and the obviously the work-rate, the guys played with a high work-rate and won every 50/50 ball.”
West Pines have appeared very strong so far, a 4-1 win against Tampa’s Fusion Futbol its narrowest margin of victory. Clare believe his side will need to be very disciplined and try to create chances on the counter-attack in order to advance to the final.
“The most important thing is to keep it tight in the back,” Clare said. “We definitely need to keep the midfield compact as we go forward and defend, not get stretched, because they’ve got good, skillful players that if they isolate us 1-on-1 a lot, they’ve got pretty good passing. If we can keep them from getting a good rhythm, disrupt their play, and get the ball up to our forwards to allow them to create some chances for us, that’s going to be the key.”