Fuego Clinch Second Place With Win
November 9, CHANTILLY –The Chantilly Fuego entered Saturday’s game against the CSA Fever needing a strong performance and some help from, of all teams, the PWSI Courage. They got both, and by the end of the day on Sunday, had hurdled the CYA Rumble to claim second place in the division.
Cheered on by injured Fuegans Pauline, Beverly and Sarah, the Fuego took charge of the game early and pushed the Fever back into their own zone with a combination of short passes, intense pressure on the ball, and well-timed challenges. Jazz, Amanda, Karina, Nina, Morgan and Carolyn all had shots on goal. But the Fever goalie made several spectacular saves to keep the game scoreless.
Then Rachel slid a pass to K-Tran who had snuck behind the Fever defense. Kristin fired the ball low into the corner of the net to give the Fuego the 1-0 lead.
The Fever tried to mount a counter-offensive, but Kennia and co-Frankenball winner Morgan denied everything that came up the middle of the field.
Likewise, Rhi, Halle and Melissa were terrific on the outside, all but eliminating the Fever outside mids in the first half.
The Fuego kept the pressure on; a shot by Julia sailed just over the crossbar; co-Frankenball winner Jazz just missed on the near side after a gorgeous passing combination from Kristen to Amanda to Nina; Carolyn found Amanda alone for a shot at a wide open net that the Fever goalie made a spectacular diving save to stop; Melissa made an overlapping run and crossed a ball to Carolyn that just slid by her foot; and Jazz had an end-to-end run late that she nearly netted.
Then just before the half the Fever got off a rare shot. Caroline initially made a great save racing across the goal mouth to block the shot, but the ball took an odd bounce and wound up in front of the goal, where a Fever player tapped it in to knot the score at 1 going into the half.
The second half was a very different game.
The Fever came out hot (sorry about that), and pushed the Fuego back into their own zone. The Fuego defense kept the Fever attackers away from the goal, but the game became much more a contest as the Fever stepped up the intensity. But the Fuego nearly got an early goal when Sabrine took a ball deep and crossed it in front where Carolyn just missed the tap in. Then, in quick succession, Julia, Amanda, Karina, Rachel, Kristen, K-Tran, and Nina all got shots on goal, but none of them found net.
But the Fever were much more aggressive, and they began to pressure the defense, forcing Kennia, Rhi, Halle, Melissa and Morgan to make recovery runs back to cover in front of Caroline, which they did time after time, denying the Fever a clear path to goal.
Then with about 15 minutes to go, Halle had a throw in from just inside the Fuego end of the field. She found Jazz along the left sideline. Jazz did the rest, spinning around the defender, outracing the rest of the defense, cutting around the goalie, and firing home the decisive goal. The Fuego managed to fend of the Fever for the rest of the game, with some help from a couple of clutch saves by Caroline, and came away with the 2-1 win.
Then they had to wait 24 agonizing hours to find out the result of the Rumble-PWSI game. When word came that PWSI had won, the Fuego had clinched second place.
It was a deserving finish to a fantastic season. The Fuego finished with a 6-4 record (6-2, not including the games against PWSI), rattled off a 4-game winning streak mid-season that included three shutouts, scored 18 goals, and managed to put a scare into the vaunted PWSI Courage with thier tremendous effort in Week 9, losing 3-1. What's more, nearly every player on the team earned at least one point (goal or assist), making this a true team effort.
Well done FUEGO! Congratulations on a terrific season!