Local players contribute to Eastside FC’s run to nationals
August 13, 2014
By Neil Pierson
The 2014 season may not have featured a storybook ending, but most of the evidence points to a remarkably successful two-year run for the Eastside FC 98 Red girls soccer team.
Head coach Tom Bialek and his 17 players – four of whom hail from Issaquah and Skyline high schools – returned to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships last month. The squad won the under-14 national crown last summer, and was looking to repeat the feat in the under-15 tournament, held July 22-27 in Germantown, Md.
Skyline players Cameron Tingey, Alexa Kirton and Molly Monroe, as well as Issaquah’s Kaylene Pang, contributed to the run to nationals. The select squad also includes players from Bellevue, Seattle Prep, Tahoma, Jefferson, Holy Names, Kentridge and Mount Si.
Eastside wasn’t able to hoist the trophy again, settling for third place after a dramatic 1-0 overtime loss in the semifinals to Jacksonville, Fla., which went on to claim the title.
Jacksonville’s Leah Ferlin scored on a diving header in the 110th minute to derail Eastside’s hopes. Eastside finished 1-1-1 in pool play, enough to reach the semifinals, where they had plenty of positives to take away.
“I am very proud of the effort the girls put forth,” Bialek said in a news release. “Every game was very demanding and required everything we had to give.
“We played our best game overall in the semifinals, and while we created many good chances and controlled play to a large degree, we never could break through with a goal, though we did hit the crossbar twice and the post once.”
Tingey, an outside defender, said the semifinal match hinged on Eastside’s inability to finish, even though they had the ball in Jacksonville’s end of the field much of the time.
“It was tough not to get the outcome we wanted,” Tingey said. “They played really well, but I think we should’ve won that game.”
Eastside opened the six-day national tournament with a 2-1 victory over Alliance Academy 99 Black of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Eastside forward Makaylie Moore opened the scoring in the 35th minute by dribbling around the keeper and slotting the ball into the net.
The Michigan squad tied the score four minutes later. Monroe, the Eastside goalkeeper, was forced to make a difficult save early in the second half to keep the score level.
That set the stage for Moore, who scored her second goal of the match with a diving header in the 59th minute.
Kirton, whose natural position is central midfielder, shifted to forward for nationals. She credited Monroe for making saves at crucial times.
“She’s been injured for quite a while, so we were lucky to have her back,” Kirton said. “She made quite a few big saves that we needed just to reach the semifinal game … I’m glad she’s back because I was the backup goalie, and I don’t know how to play goalie at all.”
The second test of pool play proved more difficult, as Eastside matched up with YMS Premier Xplosion of Yardley, Pa., a team they knew well after beating them a year ago in the U-14 national championship match.
Eastside’s Joanna Harber put her team ahead just 10 minutes in, but Xplosion answered with goals in the 31st, 48th and 63rd minutes to claim a 3-1 win.
A point from the pool-play finale was enough to get Eastside into the semifinals, and they got the job done with a 1-1 draw against Legends FC of Chino Hills, Calif.
Harber scored again for Eastside in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Legends equalized off a corner kick in the 60th minute. Eastside missed a chance to win in the final 10 minutes when the Californian goalkeeper saved a penalty kick.
Eastside had a dominating season to qualify for nationals. In their first 37 matches, the team went 30-3-4, recorded 25 shutouts, and outscored opponents 92-16.
The team won state and regional titles en route to Maryland, and also did well in the prestigious U.S. Youth Soccer National League – a 6-1 record that required extensive travel to North Carolina and Las Vegas.
A strong club season may bode well for the players as they begin high-school tryouts Aug. 25. All of them are sophomores, and many are trying to prove themselves for the first time at the varsity level.
Tingey, for example, was nudged off Skyline’s varsity last fall because of a large group of experienced seniors, but saw some action in the playoffs that has her hungry for more.
Kirton was injured last season and didn’t play for the Spartans, and is hoping to make an impact at striker or central midfield.
“I’d like to become more creative and start to turn players more often, because my role before was to get the ball and distribute,” she said.