This past January, the 2003 Phoenix, (U15) Girls Travel Team was one of two VYS teams that won the Virginia Premier League (VPL) State Cup. It was their first State Cup win and a very tight match that came down to penalty kicks on a cold, wet and rainy day.
The Phoenix pushed and struck early to earn a 2-1 lead only to lose it in the last minutes of the game. With the match tied, and two scoreless overtime periods, the ladies of Phoenix 03 had to rely on their goalkeeper and strikers to finish the job. Team commitment and focus reigned supreme as Phoenix 03 outlasted their opponent to bring home the trophy.
This State Cup Championship has earned Phoenix 03 a trip to Nationals this summer. We sat down with some of the players to talk about the game, the team and the impact VYS has had on them through the years.
Congratulations on winning State Cup! How did this experience rank among other experiences you've had with the team? How did it feel at the beginning, middle and end of the tournament? Did you have a sense that you would make it to the final and eventually become champs? At what point did you think, "yeah we got this"?
“At the beginning of the tournament, I was a little nervous, because it was State Cup and because I was just coming off of an injury, but I knew that we had played all of these teams before and we had the ability to beat them. During the finals game, my injury acted up again and I was only able to play for a little bit before getting hurt again, so that was really frustrating. When we went to penalty kicks, the team was really tense, because penalty kicks can go either way with our team, but I really believed that our goalkeeper and shooters would be able to pull it off. After our goalkeeper, Leah, had made two amazing saves, I knew that we had done it.”, said Forward Olivia Hsu.
Emma Erdmann remembered the day as one of her best experiences since the third grade. “Playing in State Cup was one of the best experiences I've had since I started travel soccer. Our team had been playing well all season, so I knew we had a chance of winning the State Cup. I knew our opponents were going to going to give it their all to try and beat us, especially after we beat them in regular season play. We knew we had to work really hard individually and as a team since we had players sick, injured, and not available to play. I knew going into the first game of the tournament that we could be State Cup champs. I started playing soccer with VYS when I was in kindergarten and started playing travel for VYS in third grade. I have played on many teams and have played many positions and have also had many great coaches and learned from them. By playing on different VYS teams and different levels of competition, I have learned that VYS is the best soccer program.”
How long have you played with VYS? How has your experience within VYS helped you in your growth and transition through the years or seasons?
Center back Emmy Noone credits hard work and her coaches with helping her achieve her goals., “I started playing VYS in U6, I joined the travel team and played for silver in U9. VYS has helped me with a variety of things throughout the years. They helped me recognize that in order to achieve your goal, you need to put work into it. I had always wanted to be on the Phoenix team, I started on silver and as I put work in I managed my way to play for Phoenix. I would not have been able to do that without the help of any of the coaches, but most importantly Coach Hank, who I cannot thank enough.”
And when we asked them, what is your favorite part about being on this team? They all agreed their favorite part about being on the team is their teammates. Working hard together toward common goals brings them closer and one they believe is the main reason for their team’s success.
“I am very proud of what this team has accomplished. It is important now to use this success as a springboard to even more success as it would be a crime to just settle for what has been achieved when this team has demonstrated it is capable of so much more.”, reflected Coach Hank Leung.
And we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the inspiring ladies of Phoenix 03 and know this is just the beginning.