Cloe Lacasse and her Benfica teammates are making a little history.
In just their third year of existence, the rapidly rising franchise within the Campeonato Nacional de Futebol Feminino (Liga BPI) in Portugal have worked their way through the opening two qualifying rounds of the UEFA Women's Champions League playdowns, advancing to the final 32.
On November 4th, Benfica upended FC (Football Club) P.A.O.K. Thessaloniki from Greece 3-1, with Lacasse netting the game-winning goal, sandwiched between strikes from Ana Vitoria and Catarino Amado.
"We came out a very strong offensive strategy, pressing them right from the goalkeeper and maintaining an attacking mentality throughout the game," said Lacasse, having made the move from Iceland to continental Europe two years ago.
Two weeks later, Benfica rallied from a 1-0 deficit, receiving a two goal effort from Nycole Raysla and edging RSC (Royal Sporting Club) Anderlecht from Belgium, 2-1.
"Facing a more accomplished and experienced team (in Anderlecht), we had to change our tactics," said Lacasse. "We decided to drop lower down the pitch and let the defenders carry the ball forward. We attacked from their mistakes and found the goals while they were unbalanced."
With the draw for the next round set for this coming Tuesday (November 24th), Benfica and the remaining qualifying teams will join a group of sixteen squads that had earned a bye up to this point, a collection of talent that includes the defending champion Lyon team from France, as well as Bayern Munchen, Manchester City, Rosengard, Wolfsburg and Barcelona.
"The victories were huge for us and the club," said Lacasse. "This only proves that we have world class players and belong with the best."