Read about their exciting weekend leading to the final game of the State Cup and how they overcame the past to secure a win! #livingthedream
History Repeating Itself???
by Coach Hank Leung on 11/1/15
Thirty years ago this Fall, I had the wonderful opportunity to share in a moment that very few people get to experience - winning an NCAA Division I Championship. During that championship weekend, we beat the #1 ranked team in the country in the semi-final - UMASS. And, the following day, we beat the #2 ranked team in the country - UNC, to seal the deal. That championship game was the first women's soccer game to ever be televised nationwide by ESPN. Click on the 30th Anniversary Tribute link for evidence of that time.
I share this with you because I believe this weekend was just as impressive. In my mind, maybe even more so. As that GMU team did 30 years ago, this team chose not to allow the negativity, the naysayers and the non-believers rule the day.
Can't explain it, but just like 30 years ago, I firmly believed this state cup championship would happen. No doubt that feeling and belief is cemented in the fact that I know what this team is made of. Hence, there was never any reason for concern. Maybe it will be another 30 years before I am so positive about something. ☺
Winning these two games was nothing to sneeze at.
Yesterday, we beat the #1 seed - Herndon United, ranked #3 in the state by GotSoccer. A team we hadn't seen since the state cup semi-final last year when they dominated.
Today, we beat the #2 seed - Beach FC, who is ranked #2 in the state by GotSoccer. And, this team had just obliterated us 5 - 1 two weeks ago.
As our Phoenix came to realize, it was never going to be easy but it was definitely going to be worth it. Both days, from the opening whistle, nothing was left unchallenged and no effort was too great because no one was going to let their teammates down. It became an all for one and one for all weekend.
And, THAT was the magic!!!
This weekend is something this team will share for the rest of their lives.
The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched
- they must be felt with the heart.
In almost three years, this team has lived it all - the highs, the lows and everything in between. And, regardless of the challenges and the obstacles, we have overcome and stayed on course. And, I couldn't be prouder.
Congratulations to all of you - players and parents alike. This has been a great run and I can't wait to see what the next chapter has in store for us.
Highlights from State Cup Weekend
Saturday: State Cup Semi-final
This was a rematch of last year’s semi-final versus Herndon United. Herndon United 99 came into the game as the #1 seed in State Cup and the #3 ranked team in the state based on GOTSoccer.
As you might expect, the game started off frenetically with high energy. Gradually, the Phoenix took control and midway in the first half, Abby Fusca found Rachel McFaul racing in from the left flank. And, Rachel, calmly as could be, slid the ball past the onrushing keeper into the goal for the first and only goal of the game.
Minutes later, Margaret Covey clanged a free kick off the crossbar and the first half concluded with the Phoenix playing confidently and in control.
With Herndon United forced to chase the game, things really opened up for the Phoenix in the attacking third. Anna Davis stripped a defender of the ball and skated in along the goal line. She found a wide open Rachel Jackson on the pullback. Rachel narrowly missed from the top of the box.
And, Whitney Wiley snaked in and clanged a rocket off the crossbar. Final Score: Phoenix ’99 1 – 0 Herndon United
Sunday: State Cup Final
Just two weekends prior, Beach FC Elite ’99 had inflicted a painful 5 – 1 pounding on the Phoenix in State Cup quarter-final group play. So we knew the #2 seed in state cup and the #2 ranked team in the state, based on GOTSoccer rankings, was for real.
As most Finals are, the first half was conservative and cagey. Also, as in the first match-up, the score at half-time was 0 – 0.
Second half began with more energy and purpose for both teams. Beach FC thought they would “put us to the sword” again at the start of the second half like they did the last time. But that wasn’t going to happen. Not only did the Phoenix show their “steel”, they also responded with attacking threats of their own and finally locked their highly touted opponents into their own half much to their surprise.
Needless to say, this created quite a stir on the field and on their bench.
Eighteen minutes into the half, Whitney Wiley brilliantly launched a shot from the right side of the field, about 25 yards out, that caught the Beach FC keeper napping, to score the first goal of the game. This further added to Beach FC’s anxiety and consternation. Now things got further disjointed for them and more even keel for the Phoenix as “the mighty mites” in midfield – Abby Fusca, Grace Fisher and Whitney Wiley, along with their “bodyguard”, Rachel McFaul, took command.
In the last 12 minutes, Beach FC got two corner kicks and threatened our goal in open play twice. That’s how smothering our team defense was. It begins with the frontrunners – Rachel Jackson, Anna Davis, Tess Mahon-Kuzin and Catherine Howard. Covered by the midfield. And, cleaned up by the defenders and goalkeeper.
In my mind’s eye, I can still see Tess streaking from the right flank to the left flank, pressuring the ball and forcing the turnover. That was symbolic of the all for one, one for all attitude that prevailed this weekend with the Phoenix.
Kudos to our back four and our goalkeeper, who played every minute of every game – Corinne Polk-Trauman, Sofia Devin, Margaret Covey, Grace Eidson and Nina LaRow helped the team record two clean sheets in two days. Final Score: Phoenix ’99 1 – 0 Beach FC Elite ‘99
Before we close out this special addition, the Phoenix ’99 would be remiss in not thanking Patriots Red, Patriots White and Phoenix ’00 for their invaluable assistance during our state cup preparations.
Meet your State Cup Champions with coach Hank Leung
Standing, left to right: Catherine; Rachel; Lianna; Nina; Grace; Caitlin; Tri-Captains - Simmi, Margaret and Sofia; Rachel J; Tess
Kneeling, left to right: Rachael K; Anna; Abby; Grace; Corinne; Whitney; and Macy
Not pictured: Sophie Morley; Ella Frazier; Natalie Johnson; and Anna Zelenski