2009 Girls U19 CYSA State Open Champions
They say lightning does not strike twice but two times in the last three years Westside Breakers U19 teams, coached by Jason Kelly have produced near miracles to end their club careers in style by winning the Girls U19 State Cup Championship. This year’s final did not end as dramatically as the last second winning goal of the 2007 championship but the 2009 squad fought against all odds and weather conditions to bring down the curtain on their club soccer careers through sheer determination and will.
The Roster of 18 players had dwindled to only 11 available players for each weekend of this competition as several players had season ending injuries or college trips to contend with. In an 18 team competition which included five CSL U18 or U19 Gold teams, the Breakers navigated their way through the group stages and into the knockout phase of the competition as a wildcard. They secured a second place finish in their pool, with victories over Temecula Utd (4-0) and North Dan Diego FC (7-2), however, The Breakers suffered a harsh lesson in counter-attack defending in a 2-4 loss to Gold U19 team Guadalajara Valley FC (GVFC).
The soccer Gods and CYSA’s wildcard system determined that the Breakers would get a chance to avenge this loss in the first round of the knockout phase of the tournament as they faced GVFC in the quarter finals. Down to only 10 players the Breakers changed tactics and decided to beat GVFC at their own game. Playing a counter-attacking style the Breakers 10 players fought for their lives under intense pressure to soak up the pressure and then score a break-away goal by Emily Litvak. They then clung on to their lead to avenge the loss against this very aggressive and determined team.
The semi-finals pitched the Breakers against the giants of Cypress Elite, whose 15 player squad seemed to be a head taller than all of our players in each position. The Breakers knew that this game might determine the State Championship as Cypress seemed to be the strongest, most talented and deepest squad in the tournament. In a game badly affected by 95 degree heat and gale force winds the 11 Breaker players put on a tactical master class, dealing with the wind and conditions better than Cypress to score an incredible first-half, left footed goal from a very tight angle by Captain Sarah Mcnitt-Gray. Following the goal, the Breakers absorbed everything Cypress could throw at them in the second half, out-leaping and out tackling the bigger players to secure an against the odds berth in the U19 State Cup final.
In the State Cup final the Breakers faced the Del Mar Sharks. The Breakers players had decided that they were not going to work this hard with no subs for an entire tournament to go home with a second place trophy. This attitude decided the outcome of game. Once again Sarah McNitt-Gray produced an almost exact replica of her semi-final heroics by producing a shot with her weaker left foot which beat the keeper from distance and an acute angle. After this goal, the Breakers simply shut the door on Del Mar, not allowing them to get near our goal or threaten to take away the State Title that they had earned. At the final whistle, the exhausted players and parents embraced to celebrate a remarkable tournament and the successful end to their youth soccer careers.
Three 1-0 wins in the knockout phase won the tournament for the Breakers. Goal scorers (McNitt-Gray and Litvak) got many accolades for the goals but this championship was won by a small but ruggedly determined team who defended as a unit as if their lives depended on it. Keeper Rebecca Gold played through a knee injury in the quarter finals to produce three-Shutouts. In front of her Maria Grosso and Nikki Engler won countless headers and tackles at the center of defense to deny our opponents and begin our counter-attacks. Irene Vargas and Colleen Grant read the conditions perfectly, shutout all wide attacks and added great service to our midfielders. Evan Tiedemann and Kirsten Fitz played the games of their lives to anchor the center midfield. Charlotte Toates (who came out of soccer retirement for this tourney) and Sarah McNitt-Gray ran their legs off in wide midfield positions to counter-attack our opponents and produce endless crosses and two important goals. Jessica Sacks played out of position behind our one forward to stifle our opponents with countless interceptions, which negated counter-attacks and she provided her own valuable attacking service from a deeper position. Emily Litvak ran miles on her own up front to pressure and seal off defenders, hold the ball up for her team and score a very important quarter final goal.
Players who played their part in the earlier rounds included Dani Maron, Tanya Djafar, Alyssa Garcia and Jessica Wiblin. The Breakers would also like to thank Nick Holton for coaching the team admirably in the group phase when Jason Kelly had a coaching conflict with his U17 team.
The smiles on the players faces says it all, the State Cup Championship was a fitting way for these players to end their careers and continue the Breakers tradition of winning State Cup titles. Three of the Breakers U19 Squad have committed to play NCAA soccer next season. Monica Jean (currently injured) will play at Columbia University, Rebecca Gold will play at Carnegie Mellon University and Kirsten Fitz has opted to attend and play soccer at Case Western University.