By Terry Monahan

OCEANSDIE, Calif. (June 27 2018) - Out of the four semifinalists at the first-ever Girls' U-18/19 Academy Playoffs, LAFC Slammers stood as the only team seeded outside the top four.

The SoCal squad drew Crossfire Premier, the tournament's top seed and owner of the Academy's stingiest defense. Despite the underdog status, LAFC came out on top to earn a spot in the Academy Championship against Dallas-based Solar Soccer Club.

"We didn't worry much about them being seeded No. 1.," said Slammers' Kate Weisner. "It was all about us.''

Weisner, fresh off of helping the Under-17 Women's National Team to the Concacaf championship, scored a hat trick to lead the way for LAFC's attack. As impressive as the showing was on offense, the Slammers, who are 14-0-2 in their last 16 games, recorded yet another shutout having now allowed just 22 goals this season. Crossfire never seriously threatened the Slammers' net, as goalkeeper Giulia Cascapera had to make just two saves.

"I think we got the first goal, but Crossfire had a little buildup there,'' Slammers coach George Larsen said. "We bent all day but we never broke. We were able to keep them away from the goal. Our team defense was great.''

Weisner felt the defense opened the door for the offense from the very outset.

"Our defense was amazing,'' Weisner said. "They did their job so we could go forward and do our job at the other end.''

Weisner opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a pass to Jenna Nightswonger, who kicked in her 20th goal this season.

In the final minute before halftime, Weisner nearly got the second goal only to have Crossfire 'keeper Riley Travis punch it away at the last second.

Weisner eventually netted LAFC's second goal five minutes into the second half, slamming a high deflection past Travis. Weisner and Nighswonger combined to push the lead to 3-0 in the 65th minute secure their place in the Academy Championship.

"I sure didn't see a 4-0 game coming,'' Weisner said. "Getting to the finals is always the goal. We just wanted to play good soccer.

Weisner earned her hat trick in the game's final seconds and the defense recorded yet another shutout.

"This team, over the course of the last four years, has shut out about 75 percent of the teams it faced,'' Larsen said. "Yes, we score goals, but defense is what has gotten us to this point against Solar. We'll need every bit of that defense after watching the 4-0 win Solar had in the other semifinal.''