What a summer!!
It was a busy summer for Colorado teams on the regional and national stage, with 28 teams starting out in regional competition, with 3 of them advancing to the national level. Colorado is very proud to announce that the GU15 Colorado Storm North 02 Girls Select won the National Presidents Cup final and the GU18 Arsenal Colorado Academy 99 finished runners-up in the USYS National Championship final! GU15 Real Colorado 02 Girls Olympico put in a great showing as the USYS National Championship as well!
We'll start in Auburndale, Florida, where Colorado Storm North 02 Girls Select traveled after their success in the Region IV Presidents Cup. It didn't get to the greatest of starts, losing 1-4 to Arkansas Rush after the match was delayed by lightning for over an hour. They did fantastically well to erase the negative goal difference, winning 5-0 against World Cup SC from New Hampshire, which included a brace from Ally Sanchez and goals from Kiana Fen, Paige Vogel, and Haley Sommer.
In their last group stage game, Storm North kept the momentum going with a 2-1 victory against Puma FC from Kansas, with the goals coming from Makayla Merlo and Haley Sommer early in the game. With only four teams in the group, Storm North advanced to the final and had to face Arkansas Rush, only three days after their opening day loss to the same team.
In one of the most back-and-forth games seen in the competition in years, Storm North won the final 5-4 after having been down 2-0 inside the first five minutes. Jayla Anaya and Paige Vogel scored for Storm North to level the game just before halftime, but they fell behind again as Kiley Dulaney (AK) completed her hat-trick two minutes into the second half. That didn't deter Storm North from completing a second comeback, as goals from Vogel, Merlo, and Bridget Feely in a 15-mintue span put them up 5-3. A late consolation goal from Rush to make it 5-4 didn't stop Storm North from clinching the National Presidents Cup championship trophy!
Arsenal Colorado Academy 99 took the National Championship Series by storm, winning Far West Regionals against La Roca (UT) and marching on to the National Championship final. They got their tournament off to a decent start, drawing a vital game against Nationals Union of Michigan thanks to a goal from Haley Rockwell. They were shutout 0-3 in the following game by TSC Showcase from Tennessee. But they handled the pressure well in their last game, beating Beadling 99 from Pennsylvania West 4-0 in a must-win game. Goals from Riley Dietrich, Madison Williams, Bailey Nemechek, and McKenna Schultz advanced them to semifinals thanks to their superior goal difference over Nationals Union.
In the semifinals, they met Legends FC 99 Academy from California South, who made easy work of their group, going 3-0 and scoring 8 whilst conceding 0. Arsenal fell behind early in the second half, but Taylor Bee scored the equalizer three minutes from time to push the game into extra time. With only five minutes remaining before penalties, Bee came up with a second goal, heading in a corner kick to send Arsenal to the GU18 National Championship final!
It was here that they played a rematch against TSC Showcase, whom they lost to 0-3 during group play. Arsenal were the better team this time around, losing 2-1 while hitting the post twice in the second half. All three goals in the game were scored in the opening 4 minutes, with Nemechek cutting TSC's lead in half after they had gone 2-0 up. Despite having numerous chances to level the game, Arsenal could not find the back of the net again even though they hit the post through Esther Malers and Riley Dietrich. Congratulations coach Luis Dominguez, Jr. and his fantastic team!
Real Colorado 02 Olympico advanced to the National Championships through their great play at the Far West Regionals, earning a wild card spot after finishing runners-up. Their tournament got off to a shaky start, losing to the eventual runners-up CUP 02 Gold from Ohio South. They lead at halftime of their second group stage match through a goal from Addie Follett, but succumbed to three second half goals against Sporting OFC from New Hampshire. Their final group play game saw them play against Legends FC 02 Academy from California South. A close contest saw Legends score two goals in the last 3 minutes of the game to make the scoreline look a lot more uneven than it would suggest. Real Colorado 02 Olympico put in a great showing across three tournament- State Cup, Far West Regionals, and Nationals. Great job, ladies!