Thursday, July 26, 2012

Four INW teams headed to USCS National Cup XI in Chicago

Four teams from the Inland Northwest are part of a 20-team contingent from the Northwest that are participating in the US Club Soccer National Cup XI this weekend, July 27-29, in Waukegan, Ill. The foursome consists of a pair of Spokane Shadow teams and the Idaho duo of Valley Thunder (Lewiston) and Idaho Thunder (Post Falls).

The other 16 Northwest clubs are from the other side of the Cascades. The event features 122 teams (64 boys, 58 girls) competing for 20 titles (10 for each gender).

The four INW teams are headed to the greater Chicago area as winners of the Northwest Regional tournament held June 23-26 in Seattle. The Spokane Shadow teams, a fraction of a successful turnout at the Northwest Regionals, will be competing for the U16 Boys Super and U15 Girls Premier championships. Courtesy of their Northwest Regional performances, the Idaho Thunder will be vying for the U17Boys Super crown while Valley Thunder, advancing as runners-up from the Regionals, are in the U16 Girls Premier bracket.

The U15 Girls Shadow team is quite the story, considering they opened the regional event a month ago with an 8-1 loss to Central Washington Soccer Academy, but rebounded to defeat the very same team in the final, 1-0, for the championship.

“When we first put the team on paper, it seemed a virtual all-star team of talent from clubs in the area. The quality and skill of the players was obvious, but that didn’t immediately translate onto the field,” said coach Brandon Schreiner on the eve of their travel day to the Windy City. “We started off with a couple of bad scrimmages and I knew it would be a lot of work to pull that talent into what the team could potentially do.

“With a rocky start and only a handful of practices under our belt, our expectations at the US Club Regional was not very high. We had no expectation to win the tournament; the goal was simply to progress as a team and learn to play as one. With a 1-8 shellacking to start our weekend, I expected to see a team broken and down. But what I saw was a team with belief and hunger in their eyes. They knew they were better than the result and were determined to prove it.

“We spent the next three games gelling and the chance for redemption in the final could not have been sweeter. When the girls walked off the field covered in sweat and mud, hands draped around each other’s shoulders, I knew we had achieved what we set out to do.”

Since then, the team has been preparing for the National Cup XI, and is heading into the event on a hot streak, dominating at the Nike Crossfire Challenge in Redmond.

“We headed to Crossfire with the same goal and expectation of the team. This time the girls hit the ground running and never looked back. The team demolished the competition and it looked a virtual keep away session in the final with the opposition posting only one shot from beyond 30 yards out. As the girls walked off the field, the feeling was less a celebration of winning, but more the success of being a team. We had fulfilled our goal and in doing so walked away with another trophy,” added Schreiner.

“Now we set our sights on Chicago and Nationals. Our goal is the same and will always be such: development. Developing of players, coach, and team as a whole is the SSC Shadow philosophy and the main focus of our club.

“On the team level we head to Nationals with a quote from the great basketball coach John Wooden. In his speech on success he says ‘The shining trophies on our shelves can never win tomorrow's game.’

“The girl’s know the challenge ahead of them and I believe they are up to the task. They are ready to work hard and give everything they have for each other. Walking off the field with a championship will be great, but walking off as better players and a better team would be true success. This is an excellent opportunity to develop against good teams from across the country and we are going to milk that for everything we can,” Schreiner concluded before conveying his thanks to everyone who has supported the team and that they will do their best in representing Spokane and SSC Shadow.

The team is in an eight-team bracket, paired in a group with Chicago Sockers FC, Classic Eagles (Ohio) and Northern Steel SC (PA). The other group features Twin County Soccer Association (NJ), Central Cal Soccer Alliance, Rochester FC (NY) and Internationals SC (Ohio). They will play once each day with the final between the two group winners on Monday.

The Shadow’s U16 side advanced to Chicago after sweeping their bracket with four one-goal victories against the opposition. In Waukegan they will play in a six-team bracket where they will face TSF Academy (NJ), Eastern FC (NY) and Raiders FC (IL) in cross-group play. The bracket’s other two teams are DMS11 Academy Club (CA) and Almaden SC (CA). They play once each day with the final on Monday.

The regional champion Idaho Thunder will be playing in an eight-team bracket in Waukegan this weekend. They are in a group with Lake Grove Triangle Soccer (NY), Eclipse Select SC (IL) and Ohio Elite Soccer Academy. The U17 Boys Super bracket is one of two that features two Northwest clubs. The opposite group features FC Portland along with Atlas Academy (CA), Ironbound SC (NJ) and Ajax FC Chicago.

Valley Thunder are heading to the Windy City in place of Washington Premier, the lone side they could not get the better of at the regional tournament with a 4-0 loss in group play and 6-1 defeat in the final while outscoring their group and semifinal opponents 8-1 on aggregate to reach the final as the wildcard. In the U16 Girls Premier bracket at the National Cup XI they will be competing with five other clubs, playing Gulf Coast United (MS), Windy City Pride (IL) and Uppr9t Soccer (NC) in cross-group play. The other two sides are from Mass Premier Soccer and California Odyssey. They play once each day with the final on Monday.

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Northwest Teams at the USCS National Cup XI

U13B Super – Washington Rush (Everett, WA)
U13B Premier – none
U14B Super – Eastside FC (Bellevue, WA)
U14B Premier – Eugene Metro FC (OR)
U15B Super – Westside Timbers (Portland, OR)
U15B Premier – none
U16B Super – Spokane Shadow (WA)
U16B Premier – Vancouver United (WA)
U17B Super – Idaho Thunder (Post Falls, ID) & FC Portland
U17B Premier – Vancouver Timbers (WA)
U13G Super – Northwest Nationals (Lynnwood, WA)
U13G Premier – Pacific FC (Vancouver, WA)
U14G Super – Eastside FC (Bellevue, WA)
U14G Premier – Washington Crossfire Premier (Redmond, WA)
U15G Super – Oswego Southside Academy (Portland, OR) & FC Portland
U15G Premier – Spokane Shadow (WA)
U16G Super – Washington Premier (Puyallup, WA)
U16G Premier – Valley Thunder (Lewiston, ID)
U17G Super – Northwest Nationals (Lynnwood, WA)
U17G Premier – Vancouver Timbers (WA)

USCS National Cup XI Official Site