Lone '09 Mountain State semifinalist falls
HUNTINGTON -- Coming into the second year of the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships being played in Barboursville, the WV Chaos U-13 Girls were in a unique position.
They feel pressure to repeat after being the only team in the state to reach the semifinals in the 2009 competition.
"They are nervous because last year we came to it and it was just coming to play," said WV Chaos coach Ashleigh Woods. "I'm happy to be here this year, but there are expectations put on us with everyone -- local people, the parents, the girls, myself."
Unfortunately for the Chaos, the pressure of repeating paled in comparison to Friday's pressure from the FC Stars of Massachusetts, who are ranked No. 9 in the nation.
FC Stars notched a goal in each half and the Chaos offense was unable to generate much in a 2-0 defeat at the Scott Orthopedic Soccer Complex, located at the Huntington YMCA Kennedy Center.
"If maybe we would've taken a couple chances earlier, maybe things would've been different but (FC Stars) is a great team and they scored two amazing goals," Woods said.
The pressure of making it back to the semifinals isn't the only aspect of the 2010 tournament that is different for the WV Chaos.
Last season, the team advanced as part of the U-12 8 vs. 8 division, which features eight players instead of 11 and smaller fields of play.
Woods said her team is still making the transition into 11-sided formations and playing on a longer field. She was happy with the effort that her team put in during Friday's opening match.
"I was really proud of the way the girls played. That was a great team we just played. They are amazing," Woods said. "They pass well, possess the ball well, every single one of their girls are taller than us. But you know, the girls came out and did what I asked them to do."
Last year, the team went 2-0-1 in pool play to advance to the championship round before falling 4-0 in the semifinals.
Now, the team needs to shake off its first loss in Region I pool play competition and win out to have a chance to advance for a second -consecutive year.
"They are resilient girls," Woods said. "A lot of times in tournaments, you won't have a good first game and then you'll win out the rest of your games...
"What we do is try to move on one game at a time. Anything can happen within a group, they can get beat and we can move on. Anything can happen."
WV Chaos returns to action at 10:40 a.m. Saturday against the SUSC Gaels 96-97 (PA-E) on Field 14 at the Scott Orthopedic Soccer Complex.