On a cold and cloudy afternoon in Manteca California at the Woodward Sports Complex, the Patriots girls lined up to take on the Heritage Extreme U11 girls for what was the last game of the long season that begun on February this year.
The game was as expected and as a Championship should be, hard and even. The quality of the HSC Extreme was what we had expected and made the game difficult for the Patriots to handle and get into their rhythm.
After a few minutes in the first half, HSC Extreme took the lead with a well played goal and pressed hard up the pitch while their defense made sure our girls could not get through.
It was close to the end of the first half that Patriots finally tied the score by way of Natalie H. who took a shot from the left side of the penalty area, only to be blocked by a HSC defender, but as expected, Natalie continued to press to recover the blocked ball and take a second shot on goal. This time the movement and shot placement on the top right corner left the keeper without a chance to stop it, 1-1.
The start of the second half saw the Patriots dominating affairs and the girls finally played more settled without the original nerves typical of these types of games. Heritage was reduced to playing counter attack due to the pressing the girls were exerting on them but were able to deflect every attack and attempt on goal.
It was about the 15th minute of the second half when the Patriots were finally able to break their defense and once again, the play originated at the left side of the pitch where after some attempts to penetrate, a ball was finally crossed from near the corner to the left side of the penalty area where Sophie M. controlled took a right foot shot with the ball coming across her body to place the ball across the keeper to the far post. The only place where the keeper could not reach and where thanks to the movement of Daniellea and Natalie C. the defenders had pulled out of coverage. Patriots up 2-1 thanks to the second goal which was the result of team effort to continue to exploit the HSC left side.
The final whistle came with the score at 2-1 after the Patriots were able deflect a series of attacks from Heritage SC Extreme on the last 5 minutes of the game.
For the Sagebrush Patriots Girls and the Patriots Academy program, this Championship marked the culmination of a long process following a specific plan all year. From the preparations in February’s preseason practices, to the way both seasons, spring and fall, were targeted for different purposes for this team’s development, to the final stage after the fall season with specific preparations for the level of play the girls encountered on the second round of NorCal play.
Players on all age brackets get ranked and sorted out in groups, for the U11’s it was Red, White & Blue. The Groups then are broken down in groups of 4 for a 1st round of three seeding games. Depending on results, teams get moved to the upper placings of the group of the lower, and get matched again for the 2nd round of three games to play vs. 3 other teams of similar quality. From the results, the teams get seeded in groups of 8 teams where all teams play a quarter final game, single elimination format. Winners advance to a semifinal game and from there to the Championship game.
The Sagebrush Patriots were ranked in the U11 Blue division with 23 other teams, due to the fact that we are the only Club in NorCal Premier that does not participate throughout the year in NorCal games and ranking for a first time participation team typically ends up being as low as possible.
The Patriots welcomed the challenge and proceeded to advance up through the seeding ranks after initially being seeded even with the other 23 teams in the Blue Group and finished the seeding rounds as the 4th seed in the blue division after 4 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss.
For the quarterfinal, the Patriots matched up vs. #5 seed West Marin/Ross Valley Breakers and won by score of 4-0, which moved them to the semifinal to play the 1st seed of the Blue group of 24 teams, Delta United SC Magic where the Patriots won by score of 4-3 in overtime after going up on the score 3-1 and then conceding two late goals by DUSC Magic to push the game into over time.
Winning the semifinal matched the Patriots girls vs. the #2 seed Heritage SC in the Championship game where the Sagebrush Patriots took care of business and did what was planned for them 10 months ago.
Of course it is important to mention that the Patriots girls would not have been able to achieve this goal if the road had not been paved for them by those that came before in the Sagebrush Soccer Club. A big thanks to our president Stacy Ojers and to Bart Vandamme, head of the Sagebrush United Boys Program and to those before them, Larry Calhoun, Will Allen and many others that through their commitment, made the Sagebrush Soccer Club a breeding ground for Champions.
7 Cities, 24 teams, 1 CHAMPION!
U11 Girls Blue
Davis Legacy Soccer Club Apex
Lamorinda United Soccer Club United 01 W
Delta United Soccer Club Magic
Sacramento United Extreme 01 Black
CAP FC United 02G
Red Star 01G Red
ACC Mavericks ECFC Gaels Flash
Newark SC Fusion
Sagebrush Soccer Club Patriots 01/02
Montclair Soccer Club Clippers G 01 Red
EBU – Bay Oaks Sting Yellow 2000
Santa Rosa South SC Tigers
Alameda SC Islanders White
Capital Athletic Soccer Academy, Boca 01 S
Castro Valley United White 01-02
EBU – Bay Oaks Bay Pride
Gryphons SC, Gryphons 01G Black
Walnut Creek, Tsunami 01
West Marin/Ross Valley Breakers, FC Breakers 01
Heritage Soccer Club, HSC Extreme
Lamorinda United Soccer Club, United 01
Petaluma United, United 01
Last but not least, making Champions requires not only the dedication of our players, but also their families, we cannot change the world through our players without the commitment of parents, siblings and other relatives. To all the families that made this possible, THANK YOU!