RILEY THOMPSON NETS TWICE TO SEND IMG ACADEMY TO THE QUARTERFINALS

A pair of second half goals from Riley Thompson gave IMG Academy a 2-1 victory to win Group A on Thursday afternoon in the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Girls U-16/17 Playoffs. Thompson's brace, and a late penalty save from IMG Academy goalkeeper Mia Justus, helped the Florida club win the group and advance to Saturday's knockout round.

Midwest United FC led 1-0 at the half and the first chance after the break fell to the Michigan side in the 51st minute as a dipping shot from distance from Matea Diekema was acrobatically pushed away by Justus to keep IMG Academy within a goal early in the second half.

Two minutes later another chance from Midwest United FC had Justus scrambling to make a great save as the long-distance effort from Maya Dean was tipped off the crossbar by the IMG Academy goalkeeper.

After withstanding the early second half pressure from Midwest United FC, IMG Academy levelled in the 57th minute courtesy of a goal from Thompson. Midwest United FC goalkeeper Ainsley Leja had come off her line to attempt to make an initial clearance, but it was Thompson who was first to the clearing attempt, chipping it past Leja who had been unable to retreat back to her line in time to make the save.

Passing the hour mark, both teams continued to generate opportunities but neither side was able to connect the final ball as the game entered its last quarter-hour.

In the 76th minute, Elle Otto collected the ball at the top of the box for Midwest United FC, sending a shot at goal that was collected by Justus to keep the game even at 1-1.

Six minutes from time, Thompson scored her second of the game from the penalty spot to give IMG Academy a 2-1 lead. It was Thompson that drew the penalty, winning a race to the ball and getting a touch before being clattered by Leja. Thompson stepped up to take the penalty, tucking it low in the left corner past Leja, who dove the right way, as the Florida club took the lead in the 84th minute.

Four minutes later, Justus stopped a penalty to keep IMG Academy in front. After a handball in the box by the IMG Academy defense gave Midwest United FC a penalty, Regan Dalton came forward to take it, firing to the right of Justus who reacted well to make the save, sealing the victory for the Southeast Division club.

In the opening half, Anna Bennett for Midwest United FC had a pair of excellent chances in the early moments, just missing the net with both opportunities as the Grand Rapids, Mich., side went in search of a goal right from the opening whistle.

Shortly after the second chance from Bennett, Thompson nearly gave IMG Academy the lead as she forced a good save from Leja in the goal for Midwest United FC.

It was Thompson creating another chance in the 19th minute, clipping a shot just high over the crossbar as the game remained scoreless.

Just before the half-hour mark it was Midwest United FC once again on the attack as Bennett got on the end of a cross, directing it on goal where Justus came up with a good reaction save to keep the sides level.

Midwest United FC opened the scoring in the 40th minute through Dalton. Collecting a cross near the top of the box, Dalton cut back on to her left foot and fired a shot past Justus to give the Mid-America Division champions a 1-0 lead.

In the final seconds of the opening half, Midwest United nearly doubled its lead as the cross from the left by Dean was just ahead of the attacker making a run to the far post who would have had a tap-in, but Midwest United FC had to settle for a 1-0 advantage at the intermission.

After the interval, Thompson's two tallies gave IMG Academy the come from behind victory to top Group A, sending them into the knockout round of the 2019 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Girls U-16-17 Playoffs, which will be held on Saturday, June 29, in Oceanside, Calif.