When the 2011 US Youth Soccer National Championships kicked off earlier this week, the Under-16 Girls' bracket was loaded with story lines. The two most compelling story lines will play out in Sunday's final game as 2010 national champions Sting 95 (N-TX) will battle Region III Champion Hurricane FC 95 Shubert (OK) for the 2011 title in one of youth soccer's most prestigious events.
"This is a great event, this is the best event," said Kerry Shubert, head coach of Hurricane FC. "It's the Super Bowl of soccer; it's the best of the best. Here, every game means something. You're playing against the best players in the country, so I think it's tremendous."
Sting is an impressive 3-0 at the 2011 tournament, having given up just one goal in the three games while scoring seven. The defense is anchored by Natalie Calhoun and Britt Blackwell, with Miranda Larkin and Marleigh Essler splitting time in the net. This line-up was the core of the backline that did not give up a single goal en route to the 2010 national championship. This back line will be challenged as it faces the team with the most goals in the tournament in Hurricane FC. Hurricane brought a year-long streak without a loss into the championships this week. This streak ended Friday as Hurricane FC dropped 2-1 to Mustang Blast.
"This was our first loss of the year, so that's not good,"" said Kerry Shubert, head coach of Hurricane FC. ""We always play to win regardless what the prize is, but the positive is that we did what we needed to do to get to the national championship game and we're excited to be there. We just need to play a lot better Sunday.""
Hurricane FC, looking for Oklahoma's first national title, was the last team to beat Sting, winning 1-0 in the Region III Championship final. Shubert will have to prepare his team to follow up that win while rebounding from its first loss since losing to Sting in the 2010 Region III final.
"I'll just tell them it's one game for the national championship," Shubert said. "Sunday's going to be a game that they know us and we know them. There are going to be no secrets and it's going to come down to who has the heart, who plays the better soccer and who puts away their chances."
Sting coach Kenny Medina looks forward to facing Hurricane FC in the final game of the US Youth Soccer championships, but believes his team has what it takes to be the first back-to-back national champions in the club's history.
"The teams are so well matched up, it will take what we do as a team to win, because I really believe in our team," Medina said. "It will take those individual moments in that game for someone to be the hero. It will be our team concepts and what we like to do as a group along with those individual opportunities and hopefully we can seize them and take advantage of them."