W.Va.'s U-12 Girls are 'Elite'
BARBOURSVILLE -- Her birth certificate may suggest otherwise, but Christen Seaman is a West Virginia girl.
The St. Louis native and U-12 Girls WV United Soccer Club Elite coach went to West Virginia University on a soccer scholarship in 1999 and has never left the Mountain State.
"It's an addictive place," she said.
So when Seaman stood in front of her players at halftime of their Saturday game with New Hampshire's Nashua World Cup, she made sure they knew what was at stake.
"We're a half away from being the first West Virginia team to win today," Seaman told her team, a roster that hails from Morgantown.
Well, she fibbed a bit -- a U-16 Boys West Virginia squad had already conquered their opponent by that time -- but her girls got the message.
Elite turned a 1-0 intermission lead into a 2-0 resounding victory that puts it at 2-0 for the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships and in the driver's seat to win its group.
"I think the most amazing thing is to look out at this field and see the support this state is giving this team," Seaman said. "I think we're doing well and we have another game to go (in group play).
"But like I told them, 'Represent your state, represent yourselves. You guys have worked hard for this.' And I think they're doing a great job with it."
On Saturday, they did a superb job of placing bookends on its opponent. They started strong, then checked out for a little bit before finally slamming the winning door shut.
Before New Hampshire could blink, Elite was on the attack in the game's opening moments, nearly getting a quick score after a Hannah Griffith chip shot just cleared the crossed bar.
A little more than one minute later Griffith's teammate, Madison Moon, stuck it well under the bar, lightning quick on the pitch, to the far post from 18-yards out.
The ball clanged off a New Hampshire defender and found the net -- 1-0.
The game's next 60 or so minutes turned into a lull period on the West Virginia side. The attacks weren't as frequent and the shots weren't on target.
On the contrary, New Hampshire kept putting pressure on Elite's defense and twice had strikes hit the post.
"I think it's really dangerous sometimes when you score that early and that easily," Seaman said. "I don't think they expected it. I know I kind of didn't expect that early of a goal.
"And so they probably all thought, 'Oh, maybe this is going to be a little easier of a game,' but it turned out to be battle."
With a little less than four minutes left in the second half, Moon and Griffith, Elite's dangerous front two, sparked some chemistry together at New Hampshire's expense.
Griffith created an odd-numbers situation with a run to the attacking third and then slipped one into Moon, who did the rest by sailing a shot over the head of the New Hampshire goalkeeper from the right side of the 18-yard box.
"They played hard to the end," Seaman said. "That's all I could ask for.
"That's how they got that second goal to seal the deal."
The Elite will wrap up group play at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Barboursville Soccer Complex against Pennsylvania's Foothills Team Extreme.