Region repeat returns TSC U15 girls to nationals
Tennessee Soccer Club '16 girls successfully defended their Region III title to make a return trip to nationals next month.
The team, last year's U.S. runner-up under the former TNFC banner, defeated Tampa Bay (Fla.) United '97 Premier 3-1 in Thursday's Southern Under-15 final in Edmond, Okla. They played six games in seven days, falling only once -- to Tampa Bay 1-0 last weekend in pool play.
"I thought the girls got stronger as the week went on which is a very difficult thing to do," Coach Ronnie Woodard said. "Because as you can imagine, they get fatigued as they play. And our girls really started to pick up their intensity and they were still running in our last game today."
|Tennessee Soccer Club '16 will play in the U15 girls nationals.
(Photos courtesy of Susan Parker Photography)
Tennessee’s Danielle Marcano put her side up in the 25th minute, but TBU’s Elaina Laxer responded with an equalizer four minutes later to send the game to halftime tied at 1-1.
TSC regained the lead shortly after halftime when Maddison Falter volleyed a cross from Anna Green past the goalkeeper. Marcano added a second goal to cap the 3-1 win and give her team its second-straight region championship.
"The girls did a really great job the entire week of scoring goals at important moments during the game," Woodard said. "One of the things that we talked about as a group and that we wanted to kind of make our signature is at the begining of second half is a really important time for us to come out, even better than we finished the first half.
"And in the semifinal and final game, within the first five minutes of both second-half efforts we scored goals. So ... they come out from halftime on fire and just running at a team and putting them under pressure."
Woodard, Vanderbilt women's head coach for 10 years, took over the TSC U15 girls team in January when Hans Hobson left to become executive director of the Tennessee State Soccer Association. She had taken a year away from the game to be with her young son, Thomas, 3, and joined as an assistant at TSC's request because she didn't want a position that required a lot of travel.
Now after a week in Oklahoma, she's headed west again in a month. Regional winners of the U13-U19 age groups earn a berth to the 2013 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships set for July 22-28 in Overland Park, Kan.
"Although the majority of players are repeat players, we do have some new ones and it'll be a first-time experience for them. And for their coach -- it'll be my first time," Woodard said after arriving home Thursday night.
"I think we're going to look to the girls that have been there before to lead the rest of us and to help us understand the path to the national championship game. I think there's no doubt that their experience last year will help train them for this year and shape them."
Keeper Jessie Harvey won the Golden Glove award, and Callie McKinney was awarded the MVP of the tourney.
Woodard credited work by Kyle Feldman (pronounced KY-lee), for her speed and agility training to help the team's fitness. "She worked tirelessly with our team," the coach said. "She wasn't able to make the trip, and I believe everything she did with these girls made a major impact in the result today."
TSC beat undefeated teams in both the regional semifinals and finals this year.
On Wednesday, Tennessee SC '16 won 4-0 against Liverpool 98 Elite from Texas in a rematch of last year's Region III final. Karlie Paschall and Abbie Kerr had first-half goals, then Meredith Slessman extended the goal shortly after half.
Paschall capped the scoring in stoppage time, as Tennessee’s attack proved too much for Liverpool’s talented defense. The Texas team hadn’t allowed a goal prior to Wednesday.
TSC '16 also includes Mackenzie Peebles, Cameron Williams, Olivia Winnett, Sydney Hunt, Madison Louk, Kara Wegner, Ann Claire Ballinger, Emily Patton, Angeles Engel, Aracely Turcios, Sarah Harter and Carson Hood.
Tennessee Soccer Club was created last year when Brentwood Soccer Club and Franklin-based Tennessee Futbol Club merged.
The U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of regional champions as well as National League qualifiers in the U15-U18 boys and girls age groups to complete the field of 88 teams.
"I'm extremely proud of what the girls accomplished this year," Woodard said. "They had to deal with adversity, whether it was a coaching change or a weather issue that stopped us from having the opportunity to train this year, changes in teammates, and injuries to the team.
"I just think they did a fantastic job of persevering and really training and coming together as unit. It was a pleasure to work with them this year. I'm so excited about going to Kansas City to go after that national championship."
Carol Stuart is sports editor of Franklin Home Page. Email email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @carolastuart.