Seldom do we witness a group of individuals coming together to become an extraordinary team. Extraordinary, not simply because they consistently win, but because they blend their individual characteristics in way that result in “family” demonstrating love, respect, encouragement, support and accountability on and off the field. The FC Pride U14 girls’ team have become extraordinary.
“What stands out to me from this season, is not everything they accomplished - winning US Club in North Carolina last August, progressing to the US Youth Soccer National League National, moving onto the US Youth Soccer National Championships in Tulsa, OK. Then, advancing out of our bracket to the Final Four, but rather what went into positioning themselves for those opportunities to accomplish them.” Jeff Utzinger, Jennifer Utzinger’s father, stated. “As a parent, I believe it's my goal to set up my children to grow and develop as strong people - learning life lessons that will help prepare them for adulthood. To me, it's not about winning the bronze medal from getting to the National Final four, it's about the journey that got her and her team there and how my daughter learned invaluable lessons that she will take with her forever. In my opinion, that's why she's at a special place, playing with and for special people, all through playing a special sport.” Utzinger, concluded.
It is certainly very special and powerful to be a part of a team that experienced the US Youth Soccer National Championships, the most competitive and recognized Cup in the US where players and teams are matched against the best of the best.
“It feels unbelievable, our team has grown so much as a group from where we started and since we came together as a team. Everyone was hoping for a little more than 3rd place, but to receive a bronze medal in the nation is still a great accomplish that most teams don't get the chance for.” Emilie Hill, FC Pride U14 player, stated.
There are a number of individuals that contributed to the success of this team. These folks invested much of their time, talent, treasure, and passion into providing these young women the opportunity to participate and enjoy the journey of US Youth Soccer’s, highly prized, National Competition Series where they earned a third place finish.
“This being our first time at the US Youth Soccer National Championships, I didn’t really know what to expect. All I can say now is ‘Wow, I really want our team to come back next year’!” FC Pride U14 team manager, John Speidel Jr., stated. This was an experience that I’ll never forget. To see our girls be competitive and win games at the highest level of youth soccer was a huge thrill. There is no doubt that our FC Pride team is among the best teams in the nation and there is no doubt that they will fight to be back her next year.” Speidel Jr., added.
The girls invested approximately 42 weeks this past calendar year. As a new team they grew from having no identity to what is now referred to as ‘family’”; developing a bond that will go way beyond soccer and will endure a life time. The journey has only begun and the bar will be raised even higher so that the team will have a better opportunity to accomplish its goals for next season. The whole experience has been empowering and I can’t wait to re-engage after the high school season.” FC Pride U14 team head coach, Matt Blackbourne, stated.
“The FC Pride U-14 girls played exceptionally well in their quest for a national title.” Dave Guthrie, Indiana Soccer’s Executive Director, stated. “They played an excellent brand of soccer; intelligent, high-pressure and quite entertaining. They were stingy with the ball; not easily giving up possession and demonstrating an immediate sense of urgency to recover possession whenever possession was relinquished. The heat index during the game was over 100 degrees, with most on the sidelines donning perspiration soaked shirts well before kickoff. However, the temperature did not deter these young women as the intensity displayed in the last five minutes of the game was just as intense as it was in the first five minutes. Indiana was superbly represented by these young women in every aspect. I could not have been more proud of an Indiana team than I was on Saturday of this team. It is a privilege to congratulate them on an excellent tournament, and I look forward to their performance next year.” Guthrie, concluded.
The FC Pride U14 team finished the US Youth Soccer National Championships with 2 wins and 1 lost during the group stage, and lost against Dallas Kicks SC 01 in the semifinal 2 – 1. The “girls in red” as they have been called lately, were the only team out of three from region II that made it to the semifinals. Finally, Abby Isger obtained the “Golden Boot” after scoring 3 goals in the competition.
To learn more about the history of the FC Pride U14 team, click here
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