The Under-14 Herndon Freedom, 2011 Virginia State Champions, took up the challenge of joining the ultra-competitive Region 1 Premier League this winter and came away with a championship.
After scoring a 3-1 semifinal win over a strong Massapequa SC Crush (N.Y.) team, the Freedom took on Oakwood SC Pride (CT), the top team in the North Division at 4-0-3 and undefeated in Region 1 play. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime, with both teams unable to convert on chances in the two overtime periods.
The South Division champion Freedom, however, outlasted Oakwood 4-3 in the penalty kick shootout to win the Premier League championship and advance to the next phase of the Region 1 national championships, to be held this summer in Hershey, Penn.
“This was a total team effort, the players, the coaches, and the parents all played a role in helping the Herndon Freedom win such a prestigious event,” said Freedom coach Gus Donolo. “The competition was intense and I am so proud of the effort and commitment of my players. They deserved to win.”
The schedule, at that time, included five of the top 10 teams in Region 1, as well as the no. 1 and no. 2-rated teams in the country according to gotsoccer.com.
Back in early March, the Freedom lost their opening game, but rebounded to finish as the top team in the Region 1 Premier League South Division with a 6-1-0 record. They scored the most goals (21), gave up the fewest goals (4) and had the greatest goal differential (+17) against the toughest competition in the entire region.
The Freedom displayed their depth and total team effort as 13 different girls scored a goal during Region 1 play.