DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) defend their title with 2-1 win over VSA Heat 96 Blue (VA)
DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) had one goal in mind this year and that was to return to the US Youth Soccer National Championships to defend their title. Sharks arrived here the same way as last, by winning its National League group to punch its ticket to Nationals. Sharks went undefeated through group play and then defeated its opposite counterpart winners from the National League, Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) 1-0 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.
DMCV’s opponent, Region I Champions VSA Heat 96 Blue (VA), had previously lost to the Sharks in National League play and then again here at the National Championships during group play. VSA looked to carry its momentum from their 1-0 semifinal victory over Region II Champions KC Metro Dynamos (KS) into the finals hoping to change its fortune against the California side.
Both teams seemed excited and nervous as the pace of the game was very fast and their passing was off the mark early. DMCV had the best chance of the first half when they had a cross sail into the VSA box but the ensuing shot was saved brilliantly by the VSA keeper. DMCV was able to earn multiple corner kicks but failed to convert on their chances. Neither team managed to find another shot on goal in the first half and entered the second half tied at 0-0.
VSA looked to put the pressure on the defending champs early in the second half pressing high and trapping Sharks in its own half.
DMCV broke out of the pressure and earned yet another penalty kick midway through the second half. Julianne M De Armas whipped in a beautiful corner kick and teammate Gianna Montini rose over the VSA defenders to smash it home what would be the game winner.
“I felt so pumped up and happy when that goal went in,” said DMCV senior player Hailey Harbison. “I knew after that we had to defense and not letting anything get by us, and the championship would be ours.”
VSA started pressing for an equalizer but couldn’t connect in the final third to get a good chance on goal. The high VSA pressure opened up more space for the Sharks attackers and Shark’s Rachel Carroll took advantage of that space to beat two VSA defenders but saw her shot hit the VSA keeper in the legs and harmlessly bounce out of bounds.
Shark’s experience and defensive composure shined through in the late minutes as VSA kept pushing for a late goal. The anticipation in the stadium for the final whistle was palpable as the huge contingent of VSA fans were making themselves heard and players on the bench were sitting on the edge of their seats.
The final whistle finally went and Shark’s pulled out the 1-0 victory winning its second consecutive National Championship.
“What makes this this team extremely special is that they’re not just a team, they’re a family, they’re sisters,” said DMCV head coach Felicia Kappes. “They love each other on and off the field and it shows. They know each other, they know where they’re going and they have fun doing it which is a rarity at this level of competition.”
“There was a lot of emotion in this one as I’ve had this team since Under-12 and now I have six senior girls leaving me. This whole journey and game was about the seniors so it was very emotional. I truly felt we played well today and deserved that win. It’s very special and it puts them in history. It’s already difficult to win it once, but to win it twice…it’s just amazing.”