SASA Spirits and Crystal Lake Force took slightly different paths to the US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup in Auburndale, FL but both left the same way, as National Champions.
Cole Barkocy, Garrett Bronn, Edgar Chavez, Dominik Chece, Carlos Duran, Remy Edstrom, Nikolas Getzinger, Andrew Grabowski, Benjamin Kassel, Alexander Kern, Cade Klusendorf, Alex Lee, Gavin Rathjen, Sean Reardon, Justin Rutherford, Kevin Winslow; Coach: Kristian Rockall
After winning the U14 Boys Illinois Presidents Cup, Crystal Lake Force Elite rolled thru the Midwest Presidents Cup going undefeated, scoring 13 goals while only allowing two. Although their goal differential wasn’t as great at the National Presidents Cup, Crystal Lake played well enough to earn a spot in the National Championship against Cal South’s Downtown SC Black, who they had tied 1-1 24- hours earlier.
In the final Crystal Lake jumped out to a 3-0 first half lead. Cade Klusendorf notched a pair of goals (8’ and 19’) as did his teammate Nikolas Getzinger (14’). Downtown SC started to make a comeback in the second half, with goals by David Orellana (45’) and Gomez Frank Barrios (55’), but Crystal Lake’s strong defense helped maintain the 3-2 win.
"The biggest feeling associated with this achievement is one of pride," Kristian Rockall, CL Force Head Coach said. "I am proud of my team and what they have accomplished, not just for themselves and for Crystal Lake FORCE, but also how well they've represented Illinois and Region 2 along the way. It's great when a local team like ours, (where all the players live within 10 miles of each other) are able to compete and experience success at the Regional and National level.
"We're thankful that the President's Cup has created a platform for teams such as ours to play on such a grand stage. The President's Cup experience has been remarkable all the way through from Rockford to Overland Park and finally Florida. The tournament is very professionally run and the organizers do a great job of making it a special experience for the players. The facilities, the fields, the officiating and the media coverage have all been excellent and certainly helped to give our team an truly amazing experience that they'll never forget."
For the tournament, 4 Crystal Lake players finished in the top 10 of goal scorers: Getzinger (3), Klusendorf (3), Carlos Duran and Justin Rutherford (1)
Emma Hughes, Katie Juhlin, Boyd Kendall, Sara Kinsella, Maddie Klintworth, Sameena Koriala, Rachel Mays, Taylor Parriott, Riley Ross, Alie Smith, Carolynn Smith, Shea Sullivan, Karmen Vicari-Endres, Macy Vorreyer, Beverly Watson, Kendall Ziel; Coach: Rhett Mays
After falling to Elite SC Black in the finals of the Illinois Presidents Cup, it looked as if the SASA Spirits' Presidents Cup journey was over. When a Wild Card spot opened at the Midwest Presidents Cup, SASA seized the opportunity and went on to bring the Regional title back to Springfield.
SASA opened the National Tournament with a 1-1 draw against Pennsylvania's WCUSC Predators 98. From there on SASA would go undefeated in group play, beating Platinum FC Sanchez of California South and Florida's Cape Coral Cyclones en route to a rematch against the Predators in the National Finals.
In the championship, SASA was down 1-0 in the first half, but tfound their vigor in the second half and shifted the game in their favor. Within ten minutes, Maddie Klintworth (42'), Kendall Boyd (45') and Macy Vorreyer (50') all scored to give SASA the 3-1 advantage and the win.
"The girls are very excited," said Rhett Mays, SASA Head Coach. "The President Cup was an overall positive experience. It has the feel of a national championship for smaller clubs like ours. - like 1A in high school soccer in Illinois."
Boyd finished as the tournament's top goal scorer with three goals.
The US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup is designed for those teams seeking additional challenges to play against teams of similar abilities for a national title. The cup provides a progressive, competitive experience to teams that might not otherwise get the opportunity to participate in a series of unique experiences highlighting competition, camaraderie and community from the state to regional to national levels of US Youth Soccer. The Illinois Presidents Cup for Girls U15-U17 is held in the Fall and for Boys U13-U17 and Girls U13-U14 in the Spring.