U-14 Girls National Champions commit to revamped Virginian Memorial Day Tournament
MSC Coyotes Green are reigning U.S Youth Soccer national champions, an inspiring success story of local girls made good — and they’re playing in the 2013 Virginian Elite Showcase.
After a surprising run to the Region I trophy in June, the talented team from Montgomery Soccer Club in Washington, D.C.’s Maryland suburbs won the U.S. Youth Soccer Under-14 girls national championship in nail-biting fashion in Rock Hill, S.C.
First Coyotes Green edged into the championship final via goal-differential tiebreaker after finishing the group stage tied on points with Ohio’s Ambassadors FC. There, clutch goals from Elizabeth Coletti and Kristen Bissell spearheaded a stirring victory over the same Tennessee FC 98 Azzurri squad that had defeated them 2-0 in the group round, earning a national title for a tightly-knit team with humble beginnings.
“We’ve added some players along the way, like everybody. But, I started this group when a lot of them were seven years old, still on their rec teams,” recalls Coyotes Green head coach Alex Gould.
“It was kind of the infancy of the academy programs that a lot of teams are doing now. I kind of went on my own and just found kids that looked like they’d be good players to put together as a group when they were seven. It’s been a long time, and they’ve grown.”
The heart-stopping heroics in South Carolina were a continuation of these at the Region I tournament, where they survived penalty-kick shootouts in both the semifinal and final rounds as goalkeeper Kristin Darragh proved the difference-maker.
This season they will compete in both the Region I Premier League and the U.S. Youth Soccer National League, capping off their spring regular season with a run in the Virginian Elite Showcase over Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re a year-round group like a lot of teams, but it gets expensive just to rent the fields to train all year, and when we go inside [during the winter],” noted Gould. “If we can stay around here and play good teams that come to us, it’s even better.”
MSC is probably best-known for its recreational programs. But Gould has assembled a unique group of girls from across far-flung Montgomery County and hopes they can build on their success as competition and intensity increases in the high school years.
“Not too many teams from our club have even come close to doing what we did, so it was not expected by most people,” said the coach. “But I certainly think we had a lot of what was needed to get to this level. Once you get there, you’ve got to have a few things fall your way and that’s kind of what happened with us. But we certainly have a good enough group to make a good run again, I think.”
All but two members of Coyotes Green are freshmen who are experiencing their first season of high school soccer this fall, many of them already proving to be standouts. Playing against older, bigger, stronger opponents is likely to help them in the months ahead.
“I think the high school season for them was a good test, playing against kids that are two, three years older and experienced, high-level players on some of these teams that are spread throughout the county,” said Gould. “For me, the speed and physical play is what really starts to separate a lot of these kids. There’s a certain pace that they’re all going to have to have to be able to keep up when they get older.
“That’s the key, to have enough pace,” he added. “The players that we have might not be the fastest, but they’re very intelligent and they know the game real well, so they’re positioned well. They’re fast enough to get the job done!”
Coyotes Green have taken part in the FC Delco Players Cup in Pennsylvania over the past few Memorial Days, but are excited to experience high-level competition in 2013 while staying much closer to home.
If all goes according to plan for his team, the Virginian will provide an ideal warm-up for another set of mid-summer trips to regionals, then nationals.
“It’s never a given – every year is a challenge,” said Gould. “But we certainly anticipate being right in the mix.”