LAKE BUENA VISTA – The Clearwater Chargers girls under-17 team earned a tie in its opening game at the Disney Soccer Showcase on Thursday afternoon, but was unfortunate not to come away with a win as it controlled the flow of the game, and the majority of possession, in the second half of its 1-1 tie with the Hibernian FC Express from New Jersey.
“In the second half, we did a much better job of playing the way we normally play,” Chargers coach Sergei Stopak said. “A team that passes, supporting each other, trying to find our rhythm. I thought that was missing in the first half, but in the second half it was there. We were a little unfortunate not to find that final finish, but when you come to Disney, that’s what you expect from the competition.”
Jen Casey gave the Chargers the lead in the first half, but Hibernian tied the game just before halftime. From then on, the Chargers were in control, and scored early in the second half, only to see the goal taken away for offside.
Sierra Lelii was effective leading the Chargers attack, and Stopak thought she had done well in leading the line.
“I really thought she was going to beat that final defender and get that opportunity,” Stopak said. “In fact, we did, but we got too greedy to put it in the net, and we got caught offside for it, but she made a difference out there.”
The Chargers will face the Scorpions SC from Massachusetts in their second game the Scorpions routing the Michigan Hawks 5-1 in their opener.
The Chargers under-18s earned victory in their opening game of the event, taking a 1-0 win against the Ohio Elite Academy.
Elsewhere, the Brandon Flames girls under-15 team trailed at halftime, but after some adjustments were able to earn a 4-1 victory against Albertson SC from New York, Shea Rhoney scoring a hat trick for the Flames.
“(She had) brilliant composure,” Flames coach Randy Belli said of Rhoney. “Just going after the outside back and creating problems for the other team.”
Albertson’s three forwards caused problems for the Flames in the first half, pressuring the defenders and midfielders as they tried to find their passing rhythm, but in the second half the Flames started playing longer, angled passes to stretch the defense and create openings.
“They did a really good job pressuring us in the first half,” Belli said. “We just adjusted our tactics a little bit, started playing some longer diagonal balls because they were really leaving the opposite wide player or forward open, so once we started finding that player, and then settling down and playing a little bit I think the rust came off, and we created a lot of chances.”
RSL Florida’s girls under-18s also won, but the victory wasn’t as easy as the 5-1 score against KUFC from Illinois might make it seem.
“It was a quality team,” RSL coach Jim Cote said. “It was 2-0 at halftime, but they were all over us to start the second half, we just got one ball in behind them and three passes, boom, it was in the goal, then we got another on quickly after that. They were a very good team, we just got the breaks with the goals. I don’t think 5-1 was indicative of the game.”
Cote said he wanted to see better intensity from his side when they face West Virginia United, the defending West Virginia state champions, on Friday evening.
“It’s a big game tomorrow night,” Cote said. “At times we looked very, very good today. The issue with the team is that sometimes we think we’re better than we are, and we don’t play with that level of intensity.”