By Terry Monahan

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (June 30, 2018) - At five-foot-two, Camille Lafaix is short for a forward. She's the shortest player on the San Jose Earthquakes' U-16/17 squad. She can slip in and out of opposing defenses with ease.

"I've been short my whole life, so I've learned how to play that way,'' Lafaix said.

Her goal with 12 minutes to play wound up as the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Penn Fusion Soccer Academy from Westchester, Pa. The goal propelled the Quakes to a victory and a berth in the semifinals of the first-ever Academy Championships in Kansas City.

"I did not want to play 30 more minutes of overtime and then maybe go to penalty kicks,'' said Lafaix, commited to Cal Poly. "We were losing our energy. After the goal, everyone was energized. I was on adrenaline the entire rest of the way.''

"This is why we played the whole season,'' Lafaix said. "After that goal I could feel my shoulders get lighter because we're going to Kansas City.''

San Jose, which has four other players committed to play at the University of California, took a 1-0 lead with the first half's only goal. On a free kick, Jadyn Shinn stood around the ball in a trio of Earthquake players with no Fusion defenders nearby. Sophie Jones tapped the ball to her, the midfielder turned to her left and was wide open before firing a screamer into the far corner of Penn's goal.

But just two minutes after the break, Penn Fusion was awarded a penalty kick when Anna Salvucci was dragged down in the penalty area. Rowan Lapi took the kick and tallied the tying goal.

That set the stage for Lafaix's goal to book passage to Kansas City. Emily Berg's perfect pass set Lafaix in through the defense for a wide-open shot on net to clinch it.

"They were so compact on the backline it was hard to get in there,'' Lafaix said. "Once Emily got me the ball, I just do what I do. Getting in there put so much pressure on me. I didn't want to go extra time."

"This is my passion, so I can't let my height stop me. If that bothered me, I ought to just go out and quit the sport.''

Just minutes before Lafaix's game-winner, Mia Fontana nearly put the Quakes on top.

After stealing the ball at midfield, she broke past the defense but her shot hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute. Abby Borchers' rebound shot off the crossbar was wide right and the game continued on until Lafaix's goal.

"Nothing in my life comes close to that goal,'' she said.