2011 US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup Finalist
The girls G95 Black team recently completed a memorable season by playing for a National Championship in Des Moines, Iowa participating in the National Presidents Cup falling 2-0 to FC Fusion of Kansas.
The journey began in January with RCL league play where the team won the 2nd Division posting a 9-0-1 mark with hard fought wins over bitter rivals Crossfire and Eastside along the way. A milestone was crossed as this team will be the first “B” team to advance to Division 1 play with the league crown. Next up came the Challenge Cup and a chance to erase the past 2 years of bitter exits losing in the semi-finals last year to Eastside on kicks from the mark and a finals defeat to Crossfire in 2009. This year’s group took those losses to heart and earned a Championship rematch facing arch rival Crossfire in what turned out to be a slugfest with WPFC claiming the crown 2-1, going 6-0 in Challenge Cup play.
Next in the journey came a trip to Salt Lake City and a chance to perform against the Regions finest. Facing teams from Utah, Alaska, Northern and Southern California, and of course our nemesis Crossfire, the team buried the competition going 5-0 winning the Region Championship with a 4-0 blistering of Real So Cal Blues. That day will remain fresh in everyone’s minds as the weather turned into perfect WPFC conditions with gusty winds, 50 degree temperatures and sideways rain. So Cal stayed in their tent until game time watching our girls warm up as if it was a Thursday night in November. We knew we had them when the whistle blew to start the match……
With that victory the dream of playing for a National Championship was becoming a reality. Frantic planning and short lead times were met by a team of supporters to make the trip to Iowa a reality and off we went. The saying “you just can’t get there from here” kept ringing in my ears as we had players, families and friends scattered all across the US trying to get to Des Moines. Arriving a day early was a blessing as it allowed the team to acclimate to the heat, humidity and time changes. Up first was a match against Texas (a team that many thought would be the team to beat) at 8am. Thankfully, the games were all early and helped offset the hot and humid climate. The team came out firing on all cylinders and overwhelmed the Texans with 3 first half goals from Whitney Lowe, Madison Adams and Gabriela Pelogi. Defense has been the strong suit all season and this game was no different with Lauren Crimi, Sierra Shugarts, Chanelle Pederson, Brittney Martin and Alicia Williams shutting down the Texas attack. The second half was more of the same with Madison Adams adding another goal to put the team up 4-0 and allowing Coach Dan Leeming to take the foot off the gas. Final score 4-2. Day two’s match was against New York on a hot, muggy day. The team was sluggish to start and the New Yorkers were dominating play. Once the team woke up and realized they were in a fight the game turned quickly in favor of WPFC. Gabriela Pelogi strikes first getting the 1-0 lead but New York ties it up 15 minutes later. Whitney Lowe scores in the waning moment of the half to make it 2-1 at the break. Second half was all WPFC as the team steamrolled their way home with goals from Madison Adams, Zoe Keskey, Sierra Shugarts and another from Whitney Lowe with Ashleigh Cade and Lindsey Hanbidge assisting . Again, the defense gets feisty and shuts down the Capitals with Crimi, Sierra Shugarts and Brittney Martin playing big in the back. Final 6-1. Day three pits the River Road gals against KC Fusion from Kansas. From the start we see that Kansas is fast, athletic and aggressive. The fist fight is on and both teams go toe to toe with plenty of physical play. Megan Charlton playing big in goal. The second half finds Kansas scoring in the 8th minute to take the 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes later Ashleigh Cade makes a beautiful diagonal pass to Gabriela Pelogi who is able to drive it home for the goal. 1-1 final with a rematch of the same teams teeing it up for the National Championship. We wake up to 95 degree temperatures and humidity in the 100% range making it the worst weather day of the tournament. This doesn’t bode well for the team and the Kansan’s take full advantage scoring in the second minute for a quick 1-0 lead. The next 76 minutes was knock down, physical play with both teams having a difficult time getting any offensive attack going as the defenses were playing huge! With time running out, Dan pushes several additional players forward trying to get the equalizer but to no avail. In the 78th minute Fusion strikes again on the counter attack catching WPFC in an outmanned position and their striker finds the net to put the final touches on a hard fought match. 2-0 final and the dream of claiming the National Championship if over.
Although losing in the National Championship match leaves a bitter taste in our mouths there is plenty of greatness to celebrate. Winning the elusive Challenge Cup State title while beating a Crossfire team that always seemed to have our number. Experiencing a Regional event for the first time seeing how awesome it is for the teams there and how well they are treated…..and winning it by beating the big bad So Cal Blues! Nationals! The word says it all. Four teams vying to claim the National title and being able to say we had a shot! Going 22-1-2 with the lone defeat and 1 of the ties coming at the hands of the eventual National Champion. All of these memories and more will be placed in the memory banks of all of those that had the chance to participate in this great run.
On behalf of the parents, WPFC staff and the entire organization a huge shout out goes to this team for a fantastic season. On behalf of the players, they’d like to thank their parents for the undying support in this 15 month long season and a special “Thank You” to Charlie Dent for always believing in them, to coaches Bill and Mike White for building the foundation of this great team and to Coach Dan Leeming for asking them to dream big, believe in themselves and work hard to find that greatness he knew they all possessed.
Congratulations ladies you have made us all proud!