MSC Coyotes Green (MD) had an unusual journey to winning last year’s 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championship in the Under-14 Girls age group.
Despite tying their first game, and losing their second, MSC Coyotes found themselves in a situation where a win and some help would get them into the finals. MSC defeated Ambassadors FC (OH-N) 3-0, and received the help they needed in the standings to advance to the National Championship game. In the finals, MSC avenged their only loss in the tournament against TNFC 98 Azzuri (TN) 2-0, to take home the national title.
"We were fortunate to be in that situation heading into the third group match," said MSC Coyotes head coach, Alex Gould. "But we took advantage of it, and I told our players that next year was going to be much more difficult considering we are the National Champs."
This season, MSC Coyotes qualified to the National Championships in their first year in the US Youth Soccer National League by finishing first in the Red Division. MSC ended with a 5-1-1 record, with a 13:5 goal differential.
"At the US Youth Soccer National League, all of the teams were great, so it was good for us to play at that competition level," said Gould. "We know it’s going to be even more competitive next year, but overall it was a great experience."
MSC Coyotes won the Region I Premier League and the Maryland State Cup, but fell in the semifinals of the 2013 Region I Championship to PWSI Courage 97 (VA). Gould admits that MSC headed into the Region I Championships with a little bit of a different mentality than the previous year.
"We certainly wanted to win, but we mostly focused on playing good soccer and staying healthy," said Gould. "You can’t remove the fact that we were already qualified for Nationals from the back of their minds."
With the field doubling to eight teams, the MSC Coyotes will need a little more than good fortune if they want to leave Overland Park, Kan., as the defending National Champions.
"This year there is going to be more emphasis on each match," said Gould. "We don’t really know a lot about two of our opponents."
Gould refers to Eclipse Elite Black 97/98 (IL), who was also in the National League, but in a different division, and Boise Nationals Italia (ID), who Gould has never seen before. MSC’s third group opponent will be a relatively familiar face considering it was the team MSC knocked off in the national finals last year, Tennessee 16 Elite (TN). But even then, Gould explains a lot has changed in the last year.
"Our team is looking forward to the challenge," said Gould. "There haven’t been too many teams who have won back-to-back championships, and we would love to do it.
See how the standings evolve as the Under-15 Girls make the most of their moments in the run to the national championship, http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2013-National-Championships/Schedule/U15-Girls/Division+1/.