REAL COLORADO TAKES DOWN NATIONALS 3-0 TO CAPTURE INAUGURAL GIRLS' DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY U-16/17 CHAMPIONSHIP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 11, 2018) - After defeating LAFC Slammers in the semifinals, Real Colorado (Centennial, Colo.) ended the inaugural Girls' Development Academy season with another superlative victory. The Centennial State club defeated Nationals (Pontiac, Mich.) 3-0 in the final to hoist the first-ever Girls' U-16/17 Academy Championship trophy.

A goal from Lydia Totten, a brace from Taeya Schuepper and another stellar performance in the net from Halle Mackiewicz ensured Real Colorado finished off its incredible run in the Academy Playoffs exactly where it deserved to - on top.

"It's so exciting," Real Colorado head coach Jared Spires said. "No matter how good a club is, you don't get these opportunities very much. It was a lot of fun. The fact is, they get to do something they love to do, they're really good at it and they got to do it on the national championship stage. Most importantly, when you look at this national championship, we had to beat some great clubs. Our kids got the opportunity to perform on a big stage and they embraced it."

After an evenly-matched 45 minutes of regulation, Colorado landed its first blow on Nationals in stoppage time. Off of a drop-kick from Mackiewicz, the ball bounced over the heads of the Nationals defense and Totten ran down the ball. She beat the Nationals backline to put herself through on goal and taking one touch forward, the striker cranked a low shot that bounced just over the hands of Nationals' Goalkeeper Emma Boutorwick to give Colorado a 1-0 advantage heading into the break.

Forty-seven seconds into the second half, Colorado doubled its advantage. After winning the ball in their own third shortly after the second-half kickoff, Colorado's Addy Bundy looked up and ran at the defense. Her effort found the right angle to fizz a ball toward Schuepper. The forward touched the ball just past a Nationals defender and wide of the onrushing 'keeper to put in a shot from a harsh angle. Schuepper's wide touch allowed Nationals defender Olivia Watson just enough time to make a fantastic goal-line save, but the ball came off her foot and unluckily bounced up to her forearm, giving the referee no choice but to whistle for a penalty kick. Schuepper stepped up to the spot and delivered a strong, low shot just out of Boutorwick's reach to put Colorado up 2-0.

Further into the second half, Real Colorado needed another 19 minutes to seal its victory. Off a long defensive clearance in the 66th, Totten made a strong move to hold off her defender and set up a trailing Schuepper along the left side of the box. The forward raced around the left side of the defense and fired in low to the far post. Boutorwick reacted quickly, but the shot was too quick and too accurate to stop, slamming into the side netting to extend Colorado's lead to 3-0.

"I just wanted to work hard for my team," Schuepper said. "I took the chances that I could and finished them for my team because we've worked really hard to get here. I really wanted to score the goals we needed to win. We had to give it all we had. This is such a proud moment for our club."

Ten minutes later, Nationals thought they found their way back into the game, but Mackiewicz denied a prime opportunity.

Midfielder Zoe Bessert took a corner kick for Nationals, and her well-placed ball found Reilee Fetty open in the penalty area. She turned a strong header toward the far post, but Halle Mackiewicz flew through the air to get her hand on the ball for a spectacular save.

The stop removed all remaining hope from Nationals and secured the clean sheet for Colorado.

"My team always has my back," Mackiewicz said. "The least I can do is make a save for them late in the game like that. I like to be there for my teammates. They're always there for me. Most teams pride themselves on their offense, but for us, it's always been our defense. We know that we can take on any offense that comes at us and that was a really good team that attacked against us tonight."

During Colorado's six games in the Academy Playoffs, its defensive unit conceded just one goal (an own goal) as it took down three of the nation's top five seeds.