Saturday’s final will pit Eastside FC, who finished atop the four-team, round-robin, preliminary-round group with a 2-0-1 record, against Philadelphia’s YMS Explosion 98 in a rematch of Wednesday’s round-robin game, won 1-0 by Eastside FC. Live scores and statistics from the final, which kicks off at 4 p.m. Pacific time, will be available at usyouthsoccer.org.
The team of 15 girls, each of whom will be freshmen at area high schools this fall, will attempt on Saturday to become the first Washington Youth Soccer team to win a US Youth Soccer National Championship in nearly two decades, since FC Royals won the Under-17 and Under-18 age groups in 1996 – two years before any of the Eastside FC 98 Red players were born.
The week-long US Youth Soccer National Championships is the most prestigious youth soccer tournament in the United States. To reach the National Championships, teams must endure months of state- and regional-level competition, defeating talented teams from across the country. Winners of each of the four Regional Championships are invited to Nationals to compete in a round-robin preliminary round, with the top-two performers advancing to the National Championship game.
Needing only a draw to finish atop the Under-14 Girls age group and earn an automatic spot in Saturday’s final, Eastside FC focused on shutting down the Tophat FC offense Friday, just as they had done in shutting out each of their first two opponents at this week’s National Championships.
Tophat nearly cracked the stingy Eastside FC defense early in the game, firing a dangerous shot towards the net that was tipped away by the outstretched fingers of Eastside FC keeper Molly Monroe. Eastside FC’s Laura Roberts was the next to come close, missing just wide of the Tophat net in the moments before halftime. Needing a win to advance, the Philadelphia team threw everything at the net to start the second half, but the Eastside FC defense weathered the storm before settling the game down in the final 20 minutes to clinch a third-straight shutout and a spot in Saturday’s final.
"Tomorrow is going to be a tough and difficult game," said Eastside FC head coach Tom Bialek. "The spirit and unity of our team is what has given them this success. They can focus and grit it out when the games get hard."
The Eastside FC 98 Red roster includes 15 players from Bellevue, Sammamish, Seattle, Issaquah, North Bend, Auburn and Maple Valley. In addition to the three-straight shutouts posted by Eastside FC keeper Molly Monroe, Bellevue’s Joanna Harber has been the tournament’s leading scorer, with all three of Eastside FC’s goals.
Prior to 2013, the team was coached by U.S. Soccer star Michelle French, who resigned her post at Eastside FC this spring when she was named head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National team.
To contact Eastside FC 98 Red coaches or players in advance of Friday’s game, call Washington Youth Soccer’s Kim Calkins at 253-720-1520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Washington Youth Soccer, visit www.washingtonyouthsoccer.org.
About Washington Youth Soccer
Washington Youth Soccer is the largest youth soccer organization in Washington. Washington Youth Soccer is the state's affiliate for US Youth Soccer, which is the largest sports organization in the United States and the most populous member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body for soccer in the United States. The Washington Youth Soccer is the sixth largest membership in the nation; our organization represents over 128,000 players (ages 4-19) and their families, 15,000 coaches on 12,000 teams and 6,500 referees in the state of Washington. Washington Youth Soccer’s mission is to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of the State of Washington's youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.
# # #