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ECNL Jul 02, 2012

ECNL U-16 Challenge B Final: Real So Cal comes away with championship

By Jimmy LaRoue

Waukegan, Ill.–Toughened up by the perennially strong southern California soccer scene, Real So Cal pushed through the Under-16 ECNL Challenge B playoffs and came away champions, defeating Heat FC (Nev.) 2-0 Saturday at Waukegan SportsPark.

“We’re so close as a team, and we wanted this so much, more than anything,” said Real So Cal’s Allie Bruder, who scored a well-taken second goal to give her team a two-goal cushion late. “We worked so hard every day together and we really love each other. We just played for each other.”

Real So Cal was already up a goal when Bruder dribbled down the right side, cut back into the box between three defenders and curled a left-footed shot into the left corner of the net, providing a welcome bit of breathing room for coach Kristy Walker.

“She just beat … three players – beautiful goal – and she ripped it into the side netting,” Walker said.

Bruder said it was her will to win that pushed her on to get the second goal. And two other things helped, she noted – her teammates’ encouragement, and that they convinced her to take that first-ever ice bath the night before to help in her recovery as they were heading into their third game in three days of searing heat.

Her thoughts as she dribbled toward the net?

“I want to win so badly, more than anything else,” she said she was thinking at the time.  “I have to use all the effort I have. I have to go as hard as I can and I just ran as fast as I could to get around all those players, hit it as hard as I could.

“Then, when I scored, I started to cry because I was so happy. It just felt like everything that we worked for, it was all here. We left it all on the field.”

The heat was a factor in Walker needing contributions from her entire team, and Bruder’s goal helped to relax the girls with about 10 minutes remaining in the match, though defensively, Real So Cal remained stout.

“Everybody was going to play today,” Walker said. “We needed to have fresh legs, and we needed everybody to step in and make a difference, and I used everybody today. Every single player stepped in and made a difference today.”

Walker was looking for her team to play through the midfield, and was successful in doing so, and they found their forwards, who finished with two quality goals.

On the first goal, the ball came into the box from the midfield, and Peyton Cline settled a ball in the box, shot and scored.

Though in Flight B, Real So Cal played top Flight A teams such as Slammers FC, So Cal Blues and San Diego Surf throughout the season, and held its own against them.

“I think [regardless of] A Flight, B Flight, I think winning something is what’s important for the girls,” Walker said. “We know we’ve played tough competition all year.”

Walker said the championship means a lot to both the team and the club.

“It’s representing our club very well,” Walker said. “That’s a big statement and a big thing to step out here and battle through three huge games and come out victorious, and win the final.”

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