Most players usually dread when a game goes to a penalty shootout, but you get the feeling top local defender Leah Mattingly quite enjoys it.
And why wouldn’t she? Over the past seven months, the Floyds Knobs native has won an Indiana high school soccer title with Providence, a Kentucky State Cup crown with her club Javanon ‘95, and last week came a prestigious Disney Showcase championship in Orlando, Fla. – -all of which were decided on penalties.
Mattingly scored her spot kick to help her U17 team beat ISA Sting of New York 3-0 in a shootout after an exciting 1-1 tie to clinch the Predator White Division.
The junior, bound for Ball State University, makes the art sound pretty simple.
“You walk up with confidence, block everything out, and place the ball where it needs to go,” Mattingly told Kick It. “No reason to over think it.
“Going into shootouts, I have complete confidence in my players. We practice penalty kicks a lot. I never doubt any of the shooters, including myself.”
To get to the final, Javanon ‘95 chalked up group wins against Pitt Greenville Stars of North Carolina (5-1) and Big Sun Lightning of Florida (2-0), along with a scoreless draw with Everton of New Jersey.
Mattingly said that 2011 was “a great year” for her.
“I am blessed to play on good teams with talented players and coaches,” she said. “Winning the Kentucky State Cup on PKs (in which she scored from the spot in a 5-4 shootout against Kings Soccer Academy) after our goalie dislocated her shoulder in overtime was a great accomplishment.
“Winning the first state title for Providence High School (penciled in to take the fifth penalty, but didn’t need to against Mishawaka Marian in a 3-1 spot kick triumph) was something one dreams about as a kid.
“Ending the year with a Disney Showcase championship was awesome. It was the first time that my Javanon team has made it to the championship game at Disney, and beating a powerful team from New York was unbelievable.”
Relaxation is a phrase you won’t have heard uttered by some of the area’s players who traveled to the Disney Soccer Showcase.
The massive week long yuletide tournament for 300 boys’ and 268 girls’ teams ranging from U15 to U19 is now considered one of the biggest stages for youth soccer in the U.S.
Self-titled the ‘Proving Ground,’ the Showcase unsurprisingly attracts literally hundreds of college coaches, including representatives from Louisville, Indiana, UK, Notre Dame, Evansville and Butler.
The boys’ competition featured Javanon ’94, and amongst its ranks are Jordan Vejar (Jeffersonville), Matt Kelecy (Floyd Central) and Nick Blackwell (New Albany). The team won the consolation final to add to its U17 Showcase runner-up medal of a year ago.
The team started with a 2-1 win over North Atlanta Premier and followed up with a 7-0 thrashing of New Jersey state cup finalist Marlboro Blue Lightning. A 2-0 loss to Florida’s Soccer Alliance Freedom saw the boys fall just short of ensuring a place in the final, but they bounced back in the consolation game for third place against 2010 national runner-up Tampa Bay United with a 2-1victory.
Behind by a goal, Javanon tied when Kelecy collected a Jordan Vejar cross and buried it to the bottom left corner of the goal. Lindo Mfeka then won it with a goal midway through the second half.
Vejar played the tournament at right back, Blackwell played as holding midfielder, and Kelecy played at right midfield and forward.
Meanwhile, United 1996 ’94, featuring Brett Bass of Providence, participated in the U19 Copa Gray, where it beat Charlotte of North Carolina 1-0.
Elsewhere, United 1996 saw two of its sides make it to the final of their respective sections. The ’95 boys lost out to state rival Lexington 3-2 in the U17 Copa Black, while the ’96 team lost out to Brentwood ’96 of Tennessee 2-1 in the U16 Predator Black section.
In the U15 Copa Black, United 1996 gained a tie with Annandale Spartans of Virginia 2-2, while Javanon ’96 played in the U16 Predator Red section, winning against FC Dallas 5-0, and its ’97 team played in the Predator Black section.