Storm girls take 2nd at Youth Soccer
The Ponte Vedra Storm U16 girls soccer team finished No. 2
in the country at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Lancaster,
Mass., on Sunday. It marked the best national placement for a Florida U16
team in 14 years.
"Itís a pretty amazing feat, what they accomplished," said Storm coach Luis
Torres, who doubles as an assistant for the University of North Florida
womenís soccer team. "I just felt they were so focused and mentally and
physically prepared to go do this."
The team is comprised of Annie Bobbitt, Alli Brashear, Morgan Brian, Noel
Crane, Theresa Diederich, Madeline Forrestel, Allie Gerry, Madison Hartley,
Tyler Law, Ansley Morgan, Brooke OíHare, Carson Pickett, Gabby Ragazzo,
McKenzie Ryan, Kaili Torres, Sarah Voigt, Nicole White, head coach Luis
Torres and assistant coach Mike Pickett.
Getting to the national championship was a three-legged journey: a state
championship, a regional championship and finally a six-team national
"Itís extremely difficult to get to where they got," Torres said. "Thereís a
reason why nobody did it for 14 years. Your team has to be peaking at the
right time. Thatís the key."
The Storm went 2-0-1 at nationals, losing 1-0 in an even title match against
the DeAnza (Calif.) Force. That lone goal bounced off the crossbar, the
right post and the left post to sneak in. It was that close.
"It was a tight, tight match," Torres said. "I thought we would get in
towards the end, but they held on and their keeper came up big for them. It
was one of those games that you wish you could replay, but you wish things
could go differently."
The Storm faced a tough draw at nationals just to reach the championship
game. Two of their first three matches were against the 2008 national
runners-up and the 2008 national champions.
Kaili Torres scored in the first game, a 1-1 tie against the team that
finished second last year. They won their second match, 5-2, on goals by
Gerry (two), Brashear, Brian and Torres.
The winner of the third match against the defending national champions from
Texas was do or die. The winner would advance to the title game.
Law and Brashear provided goals in a 2-0 win to move Ponte Vedra one win
away from a national title that proved elusive.
Coach Luis Torres said the team, whose core has played together for seven
years, is already aiming for a national championship this time next year in
the U17 division.