BATON ROUGE — The NC Fusion 13-and-under girls reached the semifinals of the Southern Region Championships with a dominate 4-0 win over FC Rangers of Florida.
The Fusion advanced to the quarterfinals by finishing second in Group A behind Charlotte Soccer Academy, while the Rangers topped Group B with a 3-0 record.
The Fusion jumped out to a fast start, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes. Ellie Garrison got the Triad-based Fusion rolling with a goal just five minutes into the game. Morgan Stallings made it 2-0 in the 10th minute.
“I thought we played very well today,” said coach Gary Gartner. “The fast start helped us a lot. You could see the girls gaining confidence as the game went on.”
A 29th-minute goal by Alena Vo built the lead to 3-0.
The Fusion stayed on the attack the rest of the game, keeping the Rangers under pressure in their own end. Meanwhile, the Fusion’s team defending didn’t allow the Florida side much breathing room.
McCarthy Spencer added the fourth goal late in the second half to complete the impressive score line.
“It felt good to have such a good performance at this stage of the tournament,” said Gartner. “That was our best game yet, and I think we can still play better. We have more in us.”
Goalkeeper Grace Shoemaker recorded her third shutout in four games. Led by Shoemaker and defenders Beija Perry, Alla Summers, Jasmine Green Olivia Vandre and Carli Crews, the team has allowed just two goals in four games.
After playing three games in three days, the Fusion had Sunday off, which they spent seeing local sites and resting.
“The day off yesterday really helped us,” said Gartner. “Everyone is healthy, rested and ready for the semis.”
The Fusion play Lonestar Roma Soccer Club of Austin, Texas today at 1:30 Central time. Lonestar, runners up in Group C, advanced to the semifinal with a win over Tennessee Soccer Club.
“They are a good team with some good players,” said Gartner about his semifinal opponent. “We will have to play to beat them.”
The other semifinal features Charlotte Soccer Club against Solar of North Texas. The champion advances to the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, Kan., July 23-28.