SECOND HALF SURGE PROPELS PENN FUSION SOCCER ACADEMY U-16/17 3-2 OVER LA GALAXY SAN DIEGO

By Natallie Rocha

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 24, 2018) - In the first feature game of the U-16/17 Girls' Development Academy Playoffs, Penn Fusion Soccer Academy opened the floodgates in the second half for a comeback victory over LA Galaxy San Diego, taking down the hometown team 3-2.

After San Diego's Juliana Kotsios scored the lone goal of the first half to put the West Coast squad up 1-0 at halftime, Penn Fusion responded with goals from Kouri Peace, Rowan Lapi and Anna Salvucci in the second half to open Group D play with three points.

Committed to the University of New Mexico, Kotsios notched her sixth goal of the season for LA Galaxy San Diego in the 24th minute. A corner served in by Ava Hetzel bobbed around before it reached Kotsios' foot for a one-time strike.

In the 38th, a hand ball in the Galaxy penalty box opened up an opportunity for Penn to even the score. The right post denied Lapi's strike on the free kick, and when the ball bounced back into the box, the Fusion were unable to capitalize on the follow-up opportunity. San Diego goalkeeper Cloe Frese scooped up the second attempt to avert the danger.

The second half served as a new start for the Mid-Atlantic Division champs. Throughout the game, Penn ignited speedy attacks down the wings through Peace, a University of Florida commit. Her efforts were finally rewarded in the 47th. Just two minutes after the break, Peace chased the ball down the right side to set herself up for a left-footed strike. She curled it over the 'keeper and into the back of the net.

In the 54th minute, Lapi found a shot at redemption when the referee called for a second penalty kick. The captain once again struck the ball hard to the right post, but this time, delivered it on-target. Though Frese guessed correctly from the goal line, Lapi put enough on the hit to get it past the 'keeper.

Late in the game, Penn refused to let up the pressure on the Galaxy defense, searching for an insurance goal. Building off an attack up the left flank in the 76th, Penn sent the ball to the top of the box, where Salvucci speared it to the back post to give Penn a 3-1 lead.

The Galaxy refused to give up without a fight, and made things got interesting in the 88th minute. A second goal from Kotsios put San Diego back in striking range, but despite conceding the late goal, Penn finished strong to secure the 3-2 victory.

"In the second half, for my second penalty kick, I had no hesitation," Lapi said. "I knew I wanted it really bad and wanted to make up for my first one… So, I wanted the second one and I put it (right). Regardless of her diving that way, I knew that I was going to put that one home. I just put it away for the team. It's all about the team."