U18 Beach FC defeats defending champs Cleveland United
Beach FC Ingrassia’s (CA-S) resume heading into the Under-18 Girls finals at the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard was impressive to say the least. Beach went a perfect 7-0 in the US Youth Soccer National League while scoring 26 goals and only giving up two to qualify for nationals.
That momentum carried over into the National Championships where Beach went 3-0 in group play by scoring 13 goals and shutting out their opponents in each game. In the semifinals, Beach FC defeated 2012 National Champion BRYC 95 Elite (VA) 2-0, and claimed the national title today by defeating defending national champs, Cleveland United White (OH-N) 2-0 thanks to a pair of late goals from Ashley Gonzales.
“It is really meaningful to get this win. I started this club six years ago when the girls were U12s, and this was the first group we started working with,” Beach coach Mauricio Ingrassia said. “We had a really tough road beating the 2012 and 2013 champs. I am really proud that we didn’t give up a goal as well. This is a great memory that will last forever.”
The game was scoreless heading into halftime, and in the 72nd minute Gonzales broke the stalemate after converting her penalty kick after a handball was called on Cleveland United in the penalty box. After 17 minutes of Cleveland threatening to get the equalizer, Gonzales closed the door on the defending champ’s comeback effort in the 89th minute when she received a through ball down the right side. Gonzales outran a defender before finishing far post to make it 2-0.
“Honestly it is such a great feeling. I was here last year and couldn’t get the right result, but this year I knew this team really wanted to win,” Gonzales said. “It is just an amazing feeling.”
Gonzales finished with four goals on the tournament, which tied for first in the group with three other players. Two of those players also played for Beach in Shannon Simon, and the 2013-2014 National League leading scorer, Kimberly Keever.
Beach finished the tournament with 17 goals scored and no goals against. It is hard for a coach to ask for anything more than that, especially for a team that faced the previous two national champs.
“For us we focus what we are doing and try not to worry about the other side, but once the bracket starts to takes shape you start to see who you match up against, and you definitely have it in the back of your head,” Ingrassia said. “I have been doing this for a long time, and this is my first National Championship. It is a nice feeling for sure, especially since this is the last year these girls will play together.”