Top recruits dazzle on Day 1 of WAGS Tournament
The showcase divisions of the WAGS Tournament have landed at a new venue, the largest single location it has enjoyed in several years. With 15 full-size fields spread between Fredericksburg FC Park and the connected Virginia Soccer Training Center, college coaches looking to scout any U-16 or older teams in the tournament were able to do so all at a central location.
Coaches representing all levels of collegiate soccer were there in full force on Saturday, watching games from every age level closely. They were treated to plenty of great opportunities to evaluate top players against opponents with contrasting styles thanks to the wide geographic area represented by attending teams. Soccer clubs from 26 U.S. states and Canada are in attendance at the 2015 WAGS Tournament.
One match that exemplified the nationwide draw and quality of the tournament was the 12:45 p.m. U-19 Showcase I Division match between California Rush and Northern Virginia side PWSI Courage 97 Red. Full of college-bound players on both sides, PWSI’s comfort on the ball was constantly tested by the high pressure Southern California outfit, but ultimately Courage would pull away and take the match 3-0. Courage sits at the top of Bracket 2 entering Sunday, as they prepare to face Pennsylvania side Super Nova FC 98.
Florida’s Braden River SC 97 jumped to an early lead in Bracket 1, scoring early and often in a 6-1 rout of Maryland United FC 97 Red. Braden River’s Sunday opponent, FC Europa Sol from Eastern Pennsylvania, picked up a 1-0 victory on Saturday against BRYC Elite 97/98.
FC Virginia ECNL 98, Pipeline SC and host club Fredericksburg FC 98 Gold each hold the top spots in the U-17 Showcase I Division brackets, following opening day wins. FCV edged out Annandale United FC 1-0, Pipeline outlasted Vincent United FC Crush in a 3-2 thriller, and Fredericksburg FC rolled past Council Rock United 8-1 to take control of Bracket 3.
In U-16 action at 9:35 a.m., FC Virginia’s Amy Thompson pulled the strings once again in the midfield against FC Europa Hostpurs from suburban Philadelphia. The ECNL Chesapeake Division champs and reigning state champs downed PA East’s State Cup finalists 3-0. FCV faces Georgia side United FA 00 Premier on Sunday in a meeting of the top two squads in Bracket 2.
Maryland’s OPSA Magic took control of Bracket 1 on Saturday with a 1-0 shutout of Beach FC 99 Red, while North Carolina State Cup champion Piedmont Triad FC 99 Lady Black knocked off Storm SA Black 3-0 to take hold of Bracket 3. Controversy during the match when Piedmont Triad’s Charla Ward was tripped up in the box by Storm Soccer Alliance’s goalkeeper, who was shown a straight red for the play.
Playing with only 10 and no backup goalkeeper is always going to be tough, but when it’s against a reigning state champ from soccer-rich North Carolina, it rarely ends well. However, several college coaches looking on certainly got to learn a lot about the character of Georgia’s Storm SA 99 Black team, as they fought hard and remained dangerous despite the disadvantage, allowing just two goals from the run of play following the PK which came as a result of the red card.
The U-15 Cup Flight was played further north in Herndon, Va. at Sully Highlands Park. Tough defense was an ongoing them throughout Saturday as teams played two group games each, and at the end of the day all three brackets are log-jammed at the top with at least two teams tied for first in points.
FC Virginia and SAC Ajax Premier are even in Bracket 1 with four points each. The sides played to a 2-2 draw in their morning match, and each won decisively in the afternoon. FCV defeated Lower Merion SC 5-1 in their second match, as Kayleigh Shackford and Lauren Sproat built on the team’s early lead with back-to-back goals in the second half.
Ajax defeated Commack SC 2000 Gold 2-0 in its second outing, and will face Lower Merion on Sunday morning.
Premier Strikers (MD) and BRYC 00 Elite lead Bracket 2 with four points apiece as well. Strikers Alexandra Fava linked up with Brigette Wang for a first half Strikers goal, and the team cruised to a 3-0 victory over AZ Arsenal 01 Premier in their afternoon match following a 3-3 draw against BRYC earlier in the day. Alyssa Minnick was dominant in net to earn the clean sheet for Premier Strikers against AZ Arsenal.
BRYC played stifling defense in a 1-0 shutout of North Carolina side Triangle FCA 00, and takes on AZ Arsenal on Sunday at 9:20 a.m. in their final group match. Cara Norlin found the net for BRYC in the victory, wreaking havoc on the opposing back line throughout the match.
Bracket 3 is interestingly a four-way tie with each team winning once and losing once on Saturday. NVSC and NJ Wildcats are No. 1 and No. 2, with 3-1 and 1-1 goal margins. Wildcats defeated NVSC 1-0 in the morning, but Virginia State Cup champion NVSC rallied for a 3-0 shutout of FC Westchester in its second outing.
Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Calvert Elite in their second match, allowing a goal in the final 10 minutes after a defensive struggle for the majority of the contest. Calvert’s Keira Shoup launched the game-winner from the top of the box just under the crossbar to put her team on top, as Wildcats allowed their only goal of the day in two games.
Emily Ruane, who normally plays goalkeeper for NJ Wildcats, is filling in at center back due to a litany of injuries on the team. Ruane has been a key member of the team’s strong defensive effort to this point, along with outside backs Megan Urbealis and Julia Knight.
“Our back line worked so well together as a group, Emily has stepped in and so far she’s been one of the best center backs in the tournament,” said Wildcats coach John Hernandez.
With many divisions playing doubleheaders on Saturday and getting right back to work Sunday morning with more group play, rest and refueling Saturday night will likely be the key for success the remainder of the tournament.