99 Girls Academy Team - Region IV Champions!
The ’99 Arsenal Colorado Girls Academy team will forever be remembered for their historic run at the 2017 Far West Regional Championships in Seattle, Washington June 19th-25th. The team is the first Arsenal Colorado girls team to win a Regional Championship, outlasting two-time defending National Finalist, La Roca, in extra time.
After starting off with an emphatic 9-1 win over the Eugene Timbers (Oregon) on Monday, the girls would then take on the Cal South State Cup Champions, LA Galaxy South Bay. After going up 1-0 on a Riley Dietrich goal, the girls would concede penalty kick goals 30 seconds on both sides of the half time break. With the game now 2-1 in favor of Cal South, the players conceded a late 3rd goal on a cold and drizzly Seattle day. With the loss the team was left to play for it all on Wednesday.
The players knew they had to get a positive result going into the final Pool Play game against the # 1 ranked team in the nation, Palo Alto (Cal North). The game started at a frantic pace, with Arsenal dominating with pressure and opportunities. Gia Lemley struck the post twice, as the girls pinned Cal North back. Early in the second half Kylie Metcalf scored her second goal of the competition with a direct free kick from 40 yards out. The team held on for the win, as Coach Luis Dominguez Jr and the players emerged from a very difficult group in Pool Play. The parity and level of competition was evident with 3 teams finishing tied with 6 points, as well as goal differential. The ’99 girls advanced as the 2nd seed from the group on the 3rd tiebreaker - least goals conceded.
After a much needed day off on Thursday the players began preparations for their quarterfinal match up with Eastside SC (Washington) on Friday. The game got off to another great start, much like Monday, as Madison Williams scored the first of two early goals off an assist from Bailey Nemechek. Lemley added a second, after Riley Dietrich played her through with a lovely combination play. Despite a few other looks, Arsenal took the 2-0 score into the halftime break. The second half saw another goal from Lemley. Eastisde would grab a consolation goal, yet never really tested Arsenal Colorado.
Saturday’s semi-final match up saw another Cal North opponent, this time Magic SC. Much like the quarterfinal, the girls came out with a bang. Three quick goals (from Dietrich, Lemley and McKenna Schultz) inside the first 20 minutes set the tone for a comfortable semi-final victory. A Magic goal made things interesting, but Madison Williams scored immediately off the ensuing kickoff (her second goal in the knockout stages). After falling at this stage last year, you could tell the girls were focused, determined, and ready; setting up a fantastic final against La Roca (Utah) on Sunday.
La Roca was not going to be an easy task for the team as they have advanced to four straight Regional Finals and were two-time defending National Finalists. This didn’t seem to intimidate the Arsenal players, as they continued their streak of getting off to great starts. An early first half goal from Williams gave Arsenal a 1-nil lead at the break. La Roca came out fired up for the second half, as momentum began to swing; but not before Arsenal grabbed a 2-nil lead on a goal by Captain Taylor Bee.
Two quick La Roca goals saw them even the score in the 79th minute, setting up a nervy final 10 minutes. Arsenal was able to weather the storm, keeping the score at 2-2, and moving into extra time. With two 15 minute periods to play, the break served Arsenal well. They were able to recapture the momentum as Kylie Metcalf rattled a free kick off the crossbar 5 minutes in. And then the breakthrough came on a Schultz cross to Lemley, who scored the 3rd goal of the match. It was almost cancelled out in the last minute of the second overtime period as La Roca missed a penalty kick in the 119th minute of the 120 overall minutes.
When the final whistle blew, the players and coach celebrated on the field. It was an amazing moment for the players, their parents, and families; etching their place in Arsenal Colorado history, becoming the first Arsenal Colorado girls Far West Regional Champion! We are so proud of this group and wish them the best of luck as they move on to represent Region IV and Colorado at the US Youth National Championships in Frisco, Texas July 24th-30th.