CSA Spirit bounces back from opening defeat to take PWSI Icebreaker title
By Jimmy LaRoue
NOKESVILLE, Va.–The PWSI Icebreaker didn’t start off well for CSA Spirit, but it sure ended that way, taking the Girls U-16 Prince William Cup championship 1-0 over Foothills Galaxy at Valley View Park Sunday.
“We came with the attitude that we were going to win this tournament,” said CSA Spirit coach Kevin Streete. “That was my goal for the team.”
The goal came from Haley Pope, who took a through-ball from Maddie Simpson midway through the first half and beat the Galaxy keeper for the lone goal of the game.
“That’s just the player we know that Haley Pope is,” Streete said. “I tell everybody, I get emotional when I talk about her. She’s just been playing soccer for a couple of years and she’s going to be a player that should be in the national pool soon.”
Streete also praised the strong performances of midfielders like Alex Freesland and Shannon Smith, along with defender Brynn Adams and center back Brianna Zych. He said Kelsey Breen–“about five-foot-nothing, 100-and-nothing,” is “the heart of our team. She’s a motor all game long.”
The Spirit won without the services of center back Samantha Twinam, out with an LCL-injury but on the sidelines supporting her teammates.
“We’re basically a team of midfielders,” Streete said. “We really don’t have strikers or defenders, but we have a bunch of midfielders, so we can interchange the team very well. We’re very flexible.”
Having practiced this spring for only the last week-and-a-half, CSA Spirit dropped its opening match 3-0 to PWSI Courage 96 Girls White, but rebounded later in the afternoon for a 1-0 win over Altoona AC United 96. On Sunday, CSA Spirit picked up a 2-1 win over FASA Impact Premiere Sunday to reach the final.
“We started out the weekend very rough,” Streete said. “We hadn’t practiced most of the winter due to injury and space allotments.”
In the opening loss, Streete said he thought the Spirit was the better team, but just missed on their chances.
“It was just so early in the morning, the girls really didn’t get a chance to wake up,” Streete said. “As the tournament went on, they really pulled it together.”
Streete, who has coached the Spirit for less than a year, credited the team’s resiliency for being able to rally from the loss to win the Icebreaker.
“They’re very feisty,” Streete said. “They don’t give up at all. They just keep working and they stay within the system.”
The Calvert, Md.-based team has made a steady rise through the Washington Area Girls Soccer League in the last three seasons, moving up from Division 5 (7-2-0) to Division 4 last season. After winning the U-16 Division 4 championship with a 5-0-5 record, the Spirit will be playing in Division 3 this season, which begins in about three weeks.
Streete, who played collegiately at Bethany College in West Virginia and in lower-level leagues overseas, said he wants his team to play a Dutch style of soccer and continue to “hide the ball” from opponents while playing a possession-based system. He believes he has a number of players that will play at the collegiate, and possibly, national level.
He hopes the tournament win will help put the Spirit on the map. He said he plans to work on fitness and tactical training in an effort to get the Spirit to win Division 3.
“I think CSA Spirit, they’re being recognized as one of the better teams in the state of Maryland and in the region,” Streete said. “And this tournament is a great start to our season.”