With much of its players set to begin college this fall and play at several Division I programs, BRYC 95 Elite (VA) entered the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard, knowing this could be its last run.
And the players didn’t want it to end on Thursday.
A well-played game against a familiar opponent in Beadling SC Thunder (PA-W) saw BRYC earn a hard-fought 1-0 victory to book its spot in Saturday's Under-18 Girls semifinals in Germantown, Md. With both teams essentially playing for one spot in the next round, BRYC’s Natalie Larkin said playing for each other is what pushed her team for the 90 minutes.
“No one wanted this to be our last game together, and I think that’s what a lot of us were playing for,” Larkin said. “We just want to keep going. We know we have it in us. We wanted to go out and leave everything out there, and we did.”
BRYC enjoyed a majority of possession, but Beadling had the best chances in the opening half hour of play. The Virginia side’s keeper made a couple key saves to keep the game scoreless, including a one-on-one situation when a Beadling forward was played in behind the defense.
Larkin said the early Beadling chances helped her side lift its own play, as BRYC began to take more control of possession and generated some chances of its own. In the 71st minute, a left-footed blast from Larkin forced the Beadling keeper to make a diving save — leading to a corner kick for the Virginia side. After the initial attempt was cleared, Rachel Moore drilled a low shot inside the right post to give BRYC the advantage.
The 2012 National Champions held off late Beadling pressure, which saw the Pittsburgh club have a goal called back for being offside. After several previous matchups between the two teams, Larkin said BRYC knew it couldn’t let up until the final whistle.
“We know they’re going to push the whole game. That’s something we had to prepare for,” she said. “I think, tactics aside, we knew everything had to be left out on the field today and nothing less than that would get us through.”
BRYC coach Larry Best was proud of his team, which played without three key players, including Carlyn Baldwin and Kaleigh Riehl, who were limited to acting as assistant coaches while out in preparation for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
The Virginia side played several younger players, and Best gives them credit for battling the entire game against a strong opponent.
“Beadling is a tough team to play against. They just try to physically wear you down,” Best said. “They’re physically challenging for us, but we just kept playing. In the end, the soccer actually won the game. We broke them down in the end.”