Youth Review, Part IV: Girls Elite
To say that Vancouver Whitecaps FC's Girls Elite team had a great year would be quite the understatement.
Winning one championship in a year is a great accomplishment for any team, but the 'Caps girls have gone well beyond one title. Head coach Jesse Symons and his squad have stocked the trophy case with regional, national, and even international honours.
The Blue and White began by storming through their 2012-13 Metro Women's Soccer League (MWSL) season, winning both the regular season title and the MWSL Cup against much older competition.
And that was just the beginning.
The girls went on to impress as many other events, including going undefeated at the NCAA Final Four Showcase, impressing at the Las Vegas Players Showcase, and winning every match at the Portland Timbers Friendship Cup.
In May the club continued their rivalry with Pacific Northwest foes Seattle Sounders FC as the U-18 Girls Elite squad valiantly battled to a 0-0 draw with the Sounders W-League team.
Come the spring, the 'Caps began their run in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL). By the end of the season the girls became the first ever Canadian team to win the PCSL treble - Seattle Hibernian and Caledonian did it in 2001. Symons' team captured the women's premier regular season title, the McAdams Cup which included top teams from Washington state and Oregon, and the Dave Fryatt Challenge Cup.
The ‘Caps finished the PCSL season 14W-2L-0D with an impressive goal differential of +42. Striker Summer Clarke led the league in goals with 19, right behind her is Jasmin Dhanda, who was third with 11 goals. They started the season with eight straight victories before a loss to Okanagan FC on June 15 halted their winning streak. The loss was avenged three weeks later when the teams met again, as the girls won convincingly: 10-1.
On June 23, the ‘Caps were crowned the best team in the Northwest by virtue of capturing the Kevin McAdams Cup; a competition between the Washington state champions (Whatcom Soccer Academy Rapids), Oregon’s state champions (Tualatin Hills United) and last year’s PCSL regular season winners (Fraser Valley Action).
In addition to what the young ‘Caps accomplished domestically, they also strut their stuff on the international stage in July when they captured the 2013 Gothia World Youth Cup hosted in Gothenburg, Sweden.
They were undefeated in their four group stage games, advancing to the quarterfinals as the top seed of Group 2. Finishing at the top of the group with an unblemished record was an accomplishment within itself as the bronze medal winners, Spanish club Gasteizko Neskak. In the group stage, the 'Caps beat Swedish club Skollersta IF 5-0, Gasteizko 4-1, and Swedish club QBIK 2-0.
The girls also powered past three Swedish clubs en route to the championship final: AIK FF in the quarterfinals (4-0), defending champions Eskilsminne DIF in the semifinals (2-0), and Hovås-Billdal IF (2-0) in the final.
Most recently, a large number of the girls finished in fine style as they represented Team BC at the 2013 Canada Summer Games. With Symons at the helm, Team BC won the gold medal on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Quebec.
Taking a moment to reflect, Symons was pleasantly surprised with what his squad of players have been able to achieve.
“I was surprised by the results. This was the most successful year for the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite program from a results perspective,” said Symons. “It will not happen every year, but the team has shown maturity beyond their years and they were fully deserving of the amount of success they had on the field this year.”
All in all, it was a dream season for Whitecaps FC Girls Elite.
The 1996-born players will begin training again in late August with the new intake of 1997-born players in preparation for the 2013-14 program and the start of the MWSL season in September.
The 1995-born players will be graduating from the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite program and be off to their university programs in the next two weeks. Below is a list of where the girls are heading off to respectively. Coach Symons is especially proud of the fact that most of the girls committed to university prior to the start of their final year of high school.