WAGS Tournament: Sights and sounds from the on-field action
By Roger Gonzalez and Jimmy LaRoue
Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds of this year’s WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament, taking place in the Washington, D.C. suburbs over the Columbus Day weekend.
- On Saturday, scores of coaches took to the fields to find that hidden gem, that budding start, that players that will elevate their program. Coaches came from all over, including the CAA and the ACC. There were not as many out on Sunday however, as many college teams had games on Sunday.
- WAGS president Kathie Diapoulis couldn’t have been happier with the turnout for this year’s competition boasting a huge grin on Sunday. The talent level is as good as it has been in years, and the high-number of coaches only made the games that much more important.
- It appeared that rain was really going to put a damper on the day but held off for the most board. Concerned coaches and fans on Saturday talked about the fear of matches being postponed and there being huge delays. Thankfully, it went smoothly.
- Teams from all over were represented at the tournament, including squads from Texas and New York. We spoke with some of the coaches from out of the area, including Florida, Pennsylvania and more locations, and each mentioned the elite competition at the tournament and how great it is to be in the D.C. area, giving the young ladies plenty of chances to see universities close by, allowing them to become familiar with the schools.
- While watching the Richmond Kickers Elite U-17 forward Alani Johnson tally a hat-trick against Massapequa Stars in a 9-1 win Sunday, Rob Ukrop noted that his players said he had to watch the movie, Pitch Perfect, if they won. Guess we’ll have to ask him how he liked the movie.
- Sticking with the same Kickers team, it was hard not to be impressed with how they played. National teamer and Tennessee-commit Katie Cousins was impressive and in control in the middle of the field, and Johnson, even with her hat trick, showed well with her distribution. Johnson, who came to the Kickers from Beach FC in Virginia Beach, and Haley Cook, who came from Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle (SOCA), have blended in well to what appears to be a cohesive unit that is composed on the ball and moves it well around the park.
- The most intense match of the day Sunday came in the U-16 Showcase bracket, with two of the top teams in the country facing off in Palm Beach SA MagicJacks–top ranked in Florida and in Region 3, and FC Bucks, with FC Bucks getting a late goal to pull out a 2-1 win, turning the tables from when the two teams played at last year’s WAGS Tournament with MagicJacks winning 4-1 in the semifinals on the way to a championship win over VSA Heat Blue. The match forced a rare strategy switch for FC Bucks that paid off in a win.
- In one of the last games of the day Sunday, and with the rain picking up in intensity, Jourdan Mansfield picked up a game-winner for Massapequa SC Explosion over Thunder SC Extreme in a U-16 Showcase game. It didn’t matter that most of the college coaches had gone, the two teams battled and played hard for the entire match.
- You wouldn’t think there would be a women’s soccer pipeline from Arizona to the University of North Dakota, given the dramatic difference in weather. However, University of North Dakota women’s assistant coach Nichole Tiggs played high school at Coronado del Sol, playing for Gilbert Arsenal 95 Premier Teal coach Matt Smith, who still coaches at the high school. She also played club soccer at Sereno and SC Del Sol and has actively pursued Arizona-based players. The school already has one Gilbert player, freshman Jessica Johnson, and has landed a second, Kelsey Cartwright, whose mother also attended North Dakota.