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Eastern President Cup

WVFC’s Emma Cipoletti (right) fights for the ball against an Empire FC defender during Monday’s US Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup semifinal at Shawnee Sports Complex. Cipoletti scored the game-winning goal late in the second half.

Just two West Virginia girls teams remained in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup regional tournament, and they faced off on Monday at Shawnee Sports Complex.

WVFC 2007 and Empire FC 2007 matched up in the 15U semifinal round and, after a scoreless 82 minutes of play, WVFC came through with a late goal to take the 1-0 victory and advance to the final Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Shawnee.

“I think it was unfair that we only scored one,” WVFC coach Travis Brent said. “I thought we were the better team from start to finish, and to play that well and not score more goals is always frustrating as a coach. But, that’s the game.”

Brent wasn’t exaggerating about his squad being the better team. From the get-go, WVFC controlled possession almost the entire match. Empire had a couple of chances but the WVFC defense staved them off before Empire even got a shot on goal. Empire had just one shot on goal the entire match.

WVFC, on the other hand, had plenty of scoring chances, and with the combination of Sissonville’s Zailee Roberts and George Washington’s Deryn Doamekpor, it seemed like a goal was inevitable. But Empire goalkeeper Keira Klingensmith made all the right plays and kept the ball out of the net.

Brent said his team had trouble taking advantage of opportunities.

“[We talked] before the game, halftime, multiple times through the scouting report last night it’s like, whenever we’re in these moments, we have to capitalize on the quality in the attacking third and, to be fair, we weren’t very good in the attacking third.”

But with the second half winding down in a scoreless game, WVFC finally capitalized with a set piece goal off the foot of Emma Cipoletti, who will be a freshman at George Washington High School in the fall. The goal came in the 82nd minute and for the remaining eight minutes, WVFC’s defense held serve and advanced to the final.

“We were lucky to get the goal the way we did,” Brent said. “We decided to serve that set piece in. It was fortunate to bounce in. I’m obviously excited because we want to win this whole thing.”

If Monday’s semifinals were any predictor, the final may not feature very much scoring either. The other 15U semifinal between Next Level Soccer Academy (New Jersey) and St. Mary’s (Maryland) went to double overtime tied 0-0. Time was winding down in double overtime, but Next Level scored a goal in the final minute to take the 1-0 win.

Next Level and WVFC will face off in the final, with the winner advancing to the National Presidents Cup in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“The goal this week was to win the final,” Brent said. “The goal was to win five games in five days. We’re going to prepare as normal. Scouting reports on the opposition, play to our strengths and limit theirs. Then build off the momentum we’ve accumulated so far throughout the event.”

Brent said there were a few things his team could have done better and will have to improve upon in the final.

“We have to refine our quality [of attack],” Brent said. “Technical ability, final pass, final shot, final dribble, whatever it is to make sure that action leads to at least a successful chance.”

Brent is still confident and knows the girls are up to the challenge.

“We’re the highest-scoring team in our age group, we’ve scored loads of good goals. We also conceded only two, so we have plenty of good momentum and I think the girls are ready for it.”