With two wins in two games, Under-14 Eastside FC 98 Red squad could clinch berth in US Youth Soccer National Championships final on Friday
FEDERAL WAY (July 24, 2013) — Behind a goal from Bellevue’s Joanna Harber, Washington Youth Soccer’s Eastside FC 98 Red team defeated Pennsylvania’s YMS Explosion 98 on Wednesday, 1-0, to move within one game of a place in the finals at the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, Kans. Complete results and game recaps are available online at usyouthsoccer.org.
The week-long competition, running July 23-28, is the most prestigious event in US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth soccer organization. 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 then invited to Nationals to compete in a round-robin preliminary round, with the top-two performers advancing to the National Championship game.
Eastside FC’s win was its second in as many days at Nationals, following its 2-0 victory over Illinois’ NSA Rockets in the tournament opener on Monday. Harber, a freshman-to-be at Bellevue High School this fall, also tallied both of Eastside’s goals against the Illinois squad; her three goals are the most of any player in the Under-14 girls division.
Eastside FC’s two wins have placed the Washington squad atop the standings in the Under-14 Girls Division with six points, followed by NSA Rockets (IL) and Georgia’s Tophat 17 Gold, each of which have three points. With a draw against Georgia in Friday’s round-robin finale, Eastside would guarantee a first-place finish and a berth in Saturday’s National Championship game, against the second-place finisher.
Head coach Tom Bialek says the effort that Eastside FC 98 Red’s 15 players — called the "Fab 15" by parents and team supporters — have put in to reach this point will help keep them focused entering Friday’s crucial round-robin finale, which kicks off at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time.
"The girls know they have to show up and compete every time they step on the field here," says Bialek. "It is very exciting for these young ladies; I could not be more proud of them."
Each of the Fab 15 will be freshmen at area high schools this fall, with players hailing from Bellevue, Sammamish, Seattle, Issaquah, North Bend, Auburn and Maple Valley. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz throughout the week as players and parents have kept friends and fans at home updated with the latest game scores, and fun team activities.
Longtime coach and former U.S. Soccer star Michelle French — who coached the team in previous seasons before accepting the position as the head coach of the U.S. Under-20Women’s National Team in February — has been among those following Eastside FC’s progress at Nationals.
"To be on center stage at one of the biggest youth soccer championships in the country, and to have already performed so well, is a true testament to their commitment, dedication and effort," French says. "Making it to Nationals is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself! They still have a lot of intense competition ahead of them, but with two wins already, you know they’ll go into their next game with great confidence."
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.