Posted On August 6, 2010 by PUSC
The Best of the Best
The Placer United U16 Girls Gold team demonstrated tremendous character and teamwork during their recent appearance at San Diego Surf Cup, arguably one of soccer’s most prestigious tournaments. With acceptance into the tournament reserved for only the very top teams, the U16 Girls were thrilled to be playing against the best of the best.
After a challenging start in the US Club Regionals in Turlock and the College Showcase in Pleasanton, the girls ended their Pleasanton appearance with a solid 0-0 draw against the Legends, a top Southern California team who dominated bracket play and were the eventual winners of the tournament. Building on that impressive performance, the team set a goal of beating a top ten Southern California team at their next challenge, the Surf Cup. Preparation for Surf included team bonding and fitness, along with positional and tactical training that required the girls to step up their game.
Arriving in San Diego, the team was set to face three very strong teams in bracket play: Albion, ranked #6 in SoCal, Arsenal, ranked #1 in SoCal and FC United Select, the current Illinois State Cup Champion. The team wasted no time in announcing their intent by opening up against Albion with a solid goal by Paige Crouch who received a through ball from Anna Goddi for the first tally of the game. A free kick from 30 yards out was converted by Devon Hamersley and put the team up 2-0 at the half. In the second half, Mary Mae Caldwell and Paige Crouch combined for the third score of the game, while Kaleigh Landberg fought off two defenders to seal the deal with the fourth and final goal in a 4-0 victory.
Looking to play a more defensive game against the very strong Arsenal team, the U16 Girls changed their formation to allow minimal space and to force Arsenal to play in front of them. The entire team rose to the occasion and did a tremendous job defending. Goalkeeper Madalyn Shiffel was stellar in the box, making a tremendous save right before the half and helping the team to preserve a 0-0 draw.
Going into the third and final game of bracket play, the U16 Girls found themselves at the top of the bracket with a win and a tie. No matter what the outcome, the girls would be moving on to the quarter finals, but Coach Gene challenged the girls to control their own destiny by going out and beating FC United Select instead of relying on another team to take care of business. The team responded in a big way by scoring three goals and securing their third shutout in a row. Paige Crouch tallied twice on assists from Mackenzie Moreno and Jena Keffer and Kaitlyn Kassis combined with Kaleigh Landberg for the final goal and a 3-0 win.
Finishing at the top of their bracket with 23 points, the U16 Girls faced Real So Cal in the quarter final game. Starting off a little shaky, the girls found themselves back on their heels for the first few minutes and were fortunate not to concede a goal. After settling down, the match was evenly played through the first half. In the second half, Anna Goddi and Paige Crouch combined for two perfectly executed goals to seal the 2-0 victory and send the team through to the semi-final game. The team had now gone 5 games and 322 minutes without allowing a goal against some top quality competition.
The semi-final match was scheduled for Monday morning against the #3 ranked Slammers from So Cal. The game started off sloppy and a defensive miscue allowed the Slammers to finish a tap into the goal from three yards out. Regrouping, the girls settled down and were back in the game, winning balls and connecting passes. Both teams had their chances, but in the end, the 1-0 score would prevail.
The U16 Girls are very excited about their top showing at Surf Cup and also at the progress they have made so quickly as a team, including how well the five new players have incorporated into the fold. The new players have done a fantastic job in blending with the returning players and making their mark in their new roles. Congratulations to the U16 Girls on a job well done!
Goals For = 9
Goals Against = 1
Goals against Avg. = 0.20
Shutouts = 4