July 30, 2013
Eastside FC girls capture first national soccer title in 17 years
It had been 17 years since a girls team from Washington had won the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, but the Eastside FC under-14 squad ended that streak July 27 in Overland Park, Kan.
The team is comprised of 15 girls from the Seattle metropolitan area, including four local players: Kaylene Pang, of Issaquah; and Molly Monroe, Cameron Tingey and Alexa Kirton, of Sammamish.
At nationals, Eastside FC went 2-0-1 in pool play, earning the top seed into the title match. They competed against opponents from Pennsylvania, Georgia and Illinois.
Eastside FC faced YMS Xplosion of Pennsylvania in the final, a team they had beaten 1-0 in pool play.
Five minutes in, Eastside FC capitalized on a mistake when Joanna Harber stole the ball from the goalkeeper and put the ball in the empty net. Harber led all scorers in the tournament with four goals.
Eastside FC doubled its advantage early in the second half as Ellie Bryant earned a corner kick, then found an opening in the box to score off a header.
Julia Lindsey scored with 10 minutes to play to bring Xplosion within a goal, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.
Eastside FC was coached until February by Michelle French, a former U.S. Women’s National Team player, who left to coach the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team. French was in attendance at the national championships.
In a news release, new coach Tom Bialek said winning the title was the culmination of five years of work by many of the players. Eastside FC allowed only one goal in its four matches at nationals.
“The girls played inspired soccer the whole week,” Bialek said. “Every game has been difficult, and there have been moments in each where we have really been put to the test. We have been successful because of our team unity and spirit. When adversity has hit, they have stuck together and encouraged each other and found the positives instead of getting frustrated.”