San Diego Surf U-14 White took the top spot in the ECNL SoCal Conference and will now move on to the National Championships in Chicago. All Photo Credit: San Diego Surf
Youth Soccer News: San Diego Surf U-14 White Girls Shine on the National Stage
It has been a busy season for the San Diego Surf Girls U-14 White team, between representing the club at the 2012 NIKE Manchester United Premier Cup in May and competing in the ECNL (Elite Clubs National League).
The girls and their Surf coach, Jose Ocampo, have faced intense competition and have shown their talent as well as their class at all stages. While the trip to Manchester Cup fell just short of their goal, the final chapter is yet to be written for ECNL. No matter the ending, it has been one heck of a ride.
From the opening match against Arsenal FC last August, through to the final game with So Cal Blues SC, the Surf girls dominated the competition in the ECNL Girls U-14 Division. Over their 18 matches the team went 15-1-2 (W-T-L), scoring an amazing 42 goals and only surrendering nine.
Their goal differential of 33 was the highest in the SoCal Conference by a wide margin and came in tied for fifth best in all of the ECNL GU-14. Over the season only Mustang SC and San Juan Soccer Club were able to find the key to defeating the powerful Surf team.
What helped propel the team against the competition was the unselfish, team-oriented nature of the squad. Coach Ocampo was justifiably proud of the way the girls took to the high level of play in the ECNL and accepted the challenges that came their way.
“From our first practice toward ECNL league competition, the GU-14 White embraced the competitive nature of this new league,” Ocampo said. “I feel that they established a very unselfish, pass-oriented style of game that set the team apart from any at this age group. We suffered through a few setbacks but still managed to qualify to compete for a national title with a handful of games left, and we won the league in deserving fashion by beating the Blues 5-1 in our last league game.”
“Through it all, this team has experienced many distractions out of their control this season,” he explained, “but they have managed to maturely focus on what they truly believe, being a family on and off the field. The girls have embraced a style of their own, and their intense determination and passion for the game will hopefully reap its benefits when we head to Chicago in late June during our quest for a National Title.”
The girls all agree that the upcoming National Championships will be a challenge, but one they are excited to take on. “I am excited and eager towards participating in the upcoming National Championships in Chicago,” said Brittany Nguyen.
“With Nationals coming up in Chicago, it's just a blessing to be able to go,” said Cami Bassett. “Everybody on our team has worked insanely hard and we are all excited to be able to compete with many other fantastic teams. It is, overall, such an unbelievable experience.”
| Surf GU-14 White finished second in the Nike Manchester Cup
“Our team can come together in pressure situations,” assured Hanna Deweese, “so I feel we will do very well in Chicago if we can just get our nerves out early in the tournament.”
One of the more positive distractions of the ECNL season came just before the final game when the team traveled to the Nike Manchester United Premier Cup to compete for the right to represent the United States at Gothia Cup in Sweden. With 20 of the top Girls U-14 teams in the country all assembled, it would be a battle to the finish to come out on top.
Surf opened the tournament strong, taking a 4-1 decision over Mustang Xplosion in their first match on Friday, May 25. That afternoon, though, they would take their only loss of Group D play against Crossfire ECNL, dropping a tough 3-2 game.
On Saturday the girls were back in form, taking a 1-0 win over FC Delco Girls to start the day. Then in the afternoon they matched up against Blitz FC Hawaii Orange in a game that eventually ended in a 0-0 draw. With a 2-1-1 record Surf finished in second in their group and moved on to the Quarter Final Round on Sunday.
In the Quarter Finals the Surf side took on a Strikers FC team that had gone 3-0-1 to take top spot in Group C. Undaunted by the challenge, the San Diego girls pulled out a gritty 1-0 win to move on to the Semi Final Round that afternoon.
In that game Surf fell behind 0-1 to Santa Rosa United Freeze, who had taken first position in Group A. As time literally ticked down, Surf managed to net a last-second goal to send eventually send the match into penalty kicks, where the girls from San Diego came out on top.
In the Final Surf faced a familiar nemesis – the same Crossfire team that had beaten them and taken top spot in group play.
Crossfire had finished the early rounds with a 3-1-0 record, taking wins against Surf, Blitz FC Hawaii (2-0) and FC Delco (3-1) while dropping a 1-0 match to Mustang Xplosion. The team then moved through the playoff rounds defeating Real Colorado 1-0 in the Quarter Final Round and Arsenal FC on penalty kicks in the Semi Final Round.
In the championshp match the two teams played a close, evenly matched game but finally it came down to one shot by Crossfire that managed to find the back of the net. With the 1-0 victory Crossfire ECNL earned the right to take on international competition at Gothia Cup in Sweden beginning on July 15.
“This charismatic Surf girls’ team that traveled to the Manchester Nike Cup quickly became a favorite amongst the organizers and other teams on and off the field,” said Ocampo. “They truly embraced Nike's theme of ‘My Time Is Now’ and the competitive nature of this first-class tournament by setting the tone during their first match versus Mustang, wining 4-1.”
The experience was certainly one that the girls will never forget, as many of them said later.
“It was definitely the most intense tournament we have ever played in,” said Madeline Gotta. “Every team was good, and I feel like it gave us a taste of what Nationals is going to be like.”
“From the opening ceremony to taking that first step onto the rainbow turf field and then to be playing in the finals, the feelings were crazy and the adrenaline never stopped,” exclaimed Nicole Morris.
“The Nike Manchester tournament was such a privilege,” exclaimed Bassett. “Playing teams from all around America and knowing they are all there to show everybody their talent, it was incredible. Leaving those fields I thought to myself ‘We were asked to be here out of so many and look how far we got!’ It motivated me and helped me believe that anything is possible.”
“The dynamics of shortened games with 20 minute halves added to the adrenaline-filled matches,” said Ocampo, “and the roar heard out in the parking lot of Nike Headquarters during the last seconds for the game-tying goal in the semi finals left an everlasting imprint in the players' hearts. In the end we were unlucky and one shot away from winning the opportunity to represent the U.S. at Gothia Cup, but the team gained invaluable experience that will aid in our quest for an ECNL National Championship.”
While losing in the finals at Nike Manchester Cup was disappointing, several of the girls felt that it would make them push that much harder when they take on the best of ECNL in Chicago later this month.
“Nike Cup was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we just fell short,” said Morris, “so I think our team will work even harder than we have before and leave it all out on the field to bring home a National Championship to prove to people what our team and our club stands for and how hard we all work.”
“It was amazing to play with the best of the best and I think the final result made us stronger as a team,” said Sarah Trissel. “I'm looking forward to proving that our team has what it takes to win the National Championship.”
“I feel that because of our recent let down, and how we came so close but just fell short, we will come out a lot hungrier in Chicago,” Gotta said, “and try not to let what happened to us in the finals of Nike Manchester happen to us again.”
The next step of the girls’ journey will begin on June 24 when the 2012 ECNL National Finals begin at the Waukegan Sports Complex in Chicago. But win or lose, it will not be an end but just another stage as these girls continue on in pursuit of being the best they can be.
San Diego Surf Girls’ U-14 Team Roster: Cami Bassett, Kelley Carusa, Anissa Dadkhah, Dana Dalton, Kiana Daum, Hanna Deweese, Olivia Erlbeck, Alyssa Fiddes, Madeline Gotta, Audrey Hegardt, Val Koerber, McKenna Moriarty, Nicole Morris, Doriana Moul, Niamh Nelson, Brittany Nguyen, Taylor Porter, Sumer Rahe, Sarah Trissel
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