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Girls Aug 03, 2012

After dodging elimination, MSC Coyotes Green rally to become U-14 girls national champions

By Roger Gonzalez

This was it: The Montgomery SC Coyotes Green Under-14 girls team had a chance to reach one of the highest summits of youth soccer in the United States at the 2012 U.S Youth Soccer National Championships in Rock Hill, S.C. last week.

Drawn into a four-team group with TNFC 98 Azzurri (Tenn.), Ambassadors FC (Ohio) and Beach FC 97 (Ca.), Coyotes Green sought a place as one of the top two teams in the group in order to battle for the national title after round robin play.

“Region I was a tough group,” coach Alexander Gould told The Soccer Wire. “We knew these teams were going to be comparable or better. They were comparable to the top Region I teams, except for a couple of players. We felt that most had one, two players up top that were just a handful, above the level of what we have seen.”

MSC started out with a 0-0 draw against Beach FC, earning a split of the points.

In the second game, the squad was blanked 2-0 by TNFC 98, leaving them in a tough qualifying situation entering the final match day.

“First off, we were definitely disappointed in the second match,” Gould said. “We actually felt that we played a decent game, we just did not get the result we were looking for. As soon as that was over, we knew we were still in it. If Ambassadors would have lost [game two], we would have been out…It gave us new life.”

Ambassadors ended up tying Beach and had four points after two games. TNFC 98 also had four points. Ahead of the showdown with the Ohio-based squad, MSC had one point, the same as Beach.

In order to advance to the final, Coyotes needed a win to leapfrog Ambassadors and have first-place TNFC 98 win or tie against Beach, resulting in the Tennessee squad winning the group with five points, and having Ambassadors and Coyotes tied at four, with the Maryland squad going through with a head-to-head victory in the final group game. If Beach won, there would have been a four-way tie.

“For us, when we score, we are not going to lose,” Gould said. “I think we had 12 or 13 straight shutouts entering that loss to Tennessee.”

Coyotes Green won the game 3-0, putting in one of the best performances that the coach had seen out of his girls over six full years as their coach, and the other game ended 0-0, meaning the Maryland squad made the final.

“They were incredible,” said Gould. “I think we only gave up three shots for the match. I couldn’t have asked them to do better.

“We had the girls set goals for themselves over the wintertime. The first was clearly to win regionals…We said, ‘We are down here, we might as well win.’ Everyone knew it was not an easy road. We told them it would be great to go back, but this might be your only shot. You have to make it happen.”

Then came the biggest moment of all, a rematch against TNFC 98 in the championship final, who were undefeated entering the game.

“The first time we played them, we played well in the first half and gave up in the second half for some reason,” midfielder Jade Ruiters said. “Our mentality was to keep pushing through.”

A goal from forward Elizabeth Coletti in the fourth minute proved to be enough for Coyotes Green, but Kristen Bissell’s strike early in the second half ensured the result as the ladies from Maryland were crowned national champions with a 2-0 win.

“It’s really big and important, but it was more of a team effort,” Coletti said. “It meant the world to me that I could help the team win it…I feel like it was one of our best games…We knew we could win. It was really gratifying. It is one of the best feelings in the world.

“A lot of us were overjoyed, a lot of us cried. We knew that all of our hard work had paid off. It meant a lot. It’s great that the first time we were able to go the national championship and win it.”

The coach saw his squad make a massive step forward in Rock Hill, and he still hasn’t been able to fully digest just what his team was able to do. But he’s getting used to the feeling.

“They were willing to do some of the things they weren’t willing to do before, as far as winning all of the 50-50 balls,” Gould said of Coyotes Green.

“MSC has never had a girls teams do anything close to this. It kind of hasn’t sunk in yet. A lot of the thrill is the challenge of getting there…I’m starting to enjoy it now.”

It’s something he and his players have always dreamed of, and this year the dream came true.

“I was never able to do this as a player,” Gould said. “I’m just really proud of the girls.”

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