Virginia well-represented at US Youth Nationals as VSA Heat Blue claim U19 girls title
Boyds, Md. – Virginia was the second-most represented state behind California with five teams among the final 56 entering Saturday’s U14-U18 semifinals, and U13 and U19 finals at the US Youth Soccer National Championships. As a result, it seemed imminent that a team from the Commonwealth would end up hoisting a trophy.
VSA Heat Blue did exactly that, defeating defending champion Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo 1-0 in the Girls U19 Final in a grudge match of the 2013 U18 title game. A 10th minute goal by Autumn Berry would be the difference in the match, as an early offensive surge by VSA Heat Blue would prove crucial for head coach Steve Smith and his squad.
“It feels great to be National Champions, since last year we wanted to get back to having this opportunity, so it feels incredible, especially since it’s our last year getting to play together,” Smith said.
Team Chicago held possession for much of the second half but a stellar effort by VSA’s back line stifled every run into their defensive third with relative ease.
“I think we have the best back four in the nation, we’ve always thought that. We’ve always been built around our defense and our keeper, and they did a tremendous job,” Smith said. “Both teams are obviously very skillful, we came out really strong in the beginning and then absorbed a lot of pressure and were able to counter a lot and get at them.”
VSA Heat Blue finishes the tournament with three wins, one tie and a plus-five goal differential, good for tops in the age group. VSA Heat 96 Blue, the training partners of Smith’s U19 team, advanced to the U17 final but lost 1-0 to DMCV Sharks Elite (CA) on Sunday morning. Smith credits both of his teams’ success to the work they have put in on the practice field together.
“I think the opportunity to train with college players has really raised their level and their speed of play,” he said of his U17s.
With the win over Team Chicago, VSA Heat Blue captured its second title in three years as the players complete their club careers on a high note.