By Natallie Rocha

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 29, 2018) - It was a battle of North versus South as two California teams fought for a place in the U-15 U.S. Soccer Girls' Academy Championships Friday. In the end, SoCal's San Diego Surf proved too much for NorCal's San Jose Earthquakes, leaving Oceanside's SoCal Sports Complex with a 2-1 victory.

Both teams showed equal levels of fitness and skill in the Academy Quarterfinal match-up, but composure under pressure ultimately made the difference. After the San Diego squad capitalized on San Jose's mistakes late in the first half to take a 2-0 lead, a 69th minute free kick conversion from the Earthquakes in the second frame intensified the final minutes.

Staying collected down the stretch, Surf held off the Northwest Division's top finishers to punch their tickets to July 9's semifinals in Kansas City, Mo. Conceding just three goals from the start of the Academy Playoffs, Surf's aggressive pressure kept the Earthquakes from stringing together an attack, despite an advantage in possession.

The hometown team chipped away at the Quakes defense by continually feeding the ball through the channels searching for the diagonal runs and keeping pressure on the Quakes' 'keeper. After a variety of close chances, Surf turned around what looked to be a scoreless half in the 34th minute.

A through ball between the Quakes defense to Avery Nicholas gave the forward a straight-on shot from the top of the box. After her strike bounced off the right post, Nicholas rebounded the ball for a left-footed finish to give her team the first goal of the game.

Three minutes later, the Quakes tried to pass the ball out of the back but a miss-touch in the midfield gave San Diego's Dorrian Savage a chance to pounce. As two defenders descended on the center forward, Savage powered forward and poked it past the goalkeeper to give her team a 2-0 lead before halftime.

Turning up their offensive pressure in the second period, the Quakes' front line saw many close chances on frame. When the game seemed all but over, a foul in Surf's midfield gave San Jose the chance they needed in the 69th.

Earthquakes Forward Lexy Thompson lined up for the free-kick opportunity, just outside the 18-yard box, near a spot she previously converted from four days prior against Oakwood SC. This time, the left-footed striker found the back of the net on the far post's upper 90.

With ten minutes remaining and all numbers forward, the Quakes nearly evened the score line at the foot of Thompson. A 77th minute back-post run from the forward resulted in a volley attempt that just miss the right post. Three minutes later, San Jose's final corner kick attempt would curl just out of bounds.

San Diego Surf will head to the inaugural Girls' Academy Championships in Kansas City where they will face off against FC Dallas.