Local soccer squad pulls national title surprise

Samatha Glackin daughter of Pat & Eydie Glackin granddaughter to Philip Gonzales and great grandaughter to Juana T. Sierra. Also one of the 14 year old players was Merriyah Myers daughter of Jennifer & Brian Myers, granddaughter to Mark & Ramona Reyes and great granddaughter of Antonia Sierra Reyes.

Local soccer squad pulls national title surprise

Posted Online: July 27, 2011, 7:34 pm

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

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–>Many in soccer circles said the United States squad carried the weight of their sport’s national future with them at the recently completed Women’s World Cup.

If so, quite the opposite was true of a bunch of carefree local teenage girls, most with ties to the United Township High School soccer program.

“I call it the Cinderella story, because we were huge underdogs, with many obstacles in the way, yet we ended up winning the whole thing,” said Tavo Garcia, coach of the national championship-winning East Moline Silvis Soccer Club’s 17-and-under Pride.

In last week’s stifling triple-digit heat in Blaine, Minn., the Pride overcame the weather, a couple of key injuries and the state champions from Minnesota and West Virginia to claim the 17-and-under crown at the USA Cup.

This nation’s largest international tournament drew over 1,000 teams in different ages from 18 countries.

“What also made this so unbelievable is we played in the 17-year-old bracket with not one 17-year-old on the team that went,” Garcia said. “We even had some 14-year-old players.”

The Pride also rebounded from a 1-1-1 record in pool play to win the title. Only because of their goal-differential, the local club received the second seed in the playoff bracket.

From there, though, the Pride proved unstoppable, winning 3-1 in the first round, and 2-1 in the quarterfinals, before taking down the pair of unbeaten state champions.

West Virginia’s two-time state champs were the guests of honor at the first surprise party.

The Pride rallied from a 1-0 first-half deficit to win the semifinal showdown, 2-1, and hand West Virginia its first loss in two seasons.

The score of the championship game was the same, yet the outcome was even more thrilling, with the Pride completing the comeback in overtime to hand Minnesota its first loss of the year.

EMSSC tied the contest late in the second half, then took the lead two minutes into overtime.

“After that, we never stopped attacking, adding multiple shots on goal and only letting the other team cross the halfway line a couple of times,” Garcia said.

Alleman goalkeeper Samantha Glackin received appreciation from multiple referees as the Player of the Match on more than one occasion for stoppingseveral close shots to save the game.

East Moline’s Tajia Coleman also scored the game-tying goal to send the championship game into overtime.

Lara Jo Steinhoff, a guest player from Minnesota, netted the game-winning goal in the title tilt.

“In order to have a full team just to compete,” Garcia explained, “we had to ask some younger girls to help fill in, and also two players from Minnesota to guest play for us.”

Good thing, too. The injuries suffered during the week included a torn ACL, and two mild concussions, not to mention the multiple cramping and physical pain from playing seven games in five days.

Besides Glackin and Davenport’s Taylor Rodriguez — plus Minnesota guest players Steinhoff and Ella Foran — the remainder of the team all hails from UT.

“It was an incredible effort,” marveled Garcia.

Even without the national title, Garcia said the Pride would have returned home as winners from the tournament.

The local traveling team also supported Puma’s Project Pink Day for Breast Cancer awareness while at the tourney.

The Pride wore pink shorts and socks that day, and Puma donated money for each goal scored and shutouts recorded at the tournament.

EMSSC scored four goals and earned a shutout in their “Pink” game. There were 942 goalsand 127 shutouts in all that day,which translated into a Puma donation to the Project Pink fund of $5,345.

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