The Road to the Championship

The road to the 2018 Cal South State Cup Governors Division for the Real So Cal Girls 2009 North Ranch White soccer team was filled with many ups and downs, and ultimately, an incredible sense of joy and triumph. Led by Coach Tony Cortez, the girls entered Cal South’s 40th Anniversary tournament having closed out a solid 11-1-1 record in the So Cal Developmental Soccer League (Fall 2017) and a 2nd place finish in the 2018 Irvine Winter Classic.

Their tournament exhibition began the weekend of January 27th/28th at the Silverlakes Complex in Norco. In the first round of games, the Real So Cal girls played 3 games in 2 days. They came out strong, competed intensely and managed to win one game and tie two games. Their performance earned them a 2nd place position in their bracket, enabling them to move on to the Round of 16, now a win or go-home situation.

The Round of 16 games took place on February 3rd in Escondido as the the girls faced off against Ole. Their opponents were very skilled, fast, and determined. At half-time, the game was tied 0-0; both teams had many opportunities to score. Early in the second half, the Real So Cal girls turned it up. After an onslaught of pressure and a number of shots on goal, they finally got the go-ahead goal. The final whistle blew and they were on to the quarterfinals the next day against LA Premier FC. This game was a true test of the girls’ capabilities and resolve. After 50 minutes of regulation play and two 5-minute overtime periods, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. The game was to be decided by the dreaded penalty kicks. Both teams made 4 out of 5 penalty kicks and they were forced into a 1 for 1 penalty kick-off. Real So Cal’s goalie, Pippin Taylor, successfully blocked her opponent’s shot, and then stepped up to take her penalty kick. She hit it solidly and with pace, and into the net it went, sending her jubilant teammates running onto the field. The Real So Cal girls were going to the semi-finals back at the Silverlakes Complex in Norco.

In the semi-final round on February 10th, the Real So Cal girls faced the very talented Slammers FC Long Beach. From the first whistle it was a hard fought game. Both teams had exciting offensive opportunities and were forced to play strong defense. Mid-way through the first half, the Slammers earned a free kick just outside the penalty box. This would translate into the first goal of the game as the Slammers central defender expertly put the ball in the back of the net. Down 1-0 at half-time, Coach Tony had to give another inspirational pep talk. The girls came out blasting and half-way through earned a penalty kick. Lana Lucas took the shot for Real So Cal and put it into the back of the net. Tied 1-1. The score would remain the same through regulation and two 5-minute overtime periods. Back to the dreaded penalty kicks. This time, it would be a very different set of events. The Slammers made their first 2 penalty kicks but Real So Cal missed their first 2. Then the Slammers missed, but so did Real So Cal. Then the Slammers missed again, but Real So Cal made their next one. Then came the Slammers’ fifth shot. All they had to do was make it and they would advance, but it did not happen. Their shooter missed the shot and the last Real So Cal player put it into the back of the net, and AGAIN, they were back in the 1 for 1 penalty kick-off. At this point on the sidelines it was gut-wrenching! But the story would end well. The Slammers player missed the shot leaving the door open for Willow Hutchins on Real So Cal to potentially win it. And win it she did with a powerful shot into the corner of the goal. On to the Finals.

The Finals game on February 11th was an incredible match. Playing against a formidable SoCal Blues team from Orange County, from the very first whistle, the Real So Cal girls were on fire. They played great soccer controlling much of the game, keeping the ball in their opponents half of the field, they pressed and pressed, and just before half-time put the ball in the back of the net. The second half was a true battle – but when the final whistle blew, Real So Cal had held their opponent scoreless. The whole sideline cleared as the over-joyous family members surrounded the Champs!

During the medals ceremony, Coach Tony said, “I always heard the saying that adversity builds character. In my mind, adversity reveals your character.” The huge heart these girls showed in this tournament over the last 3 weeks was unbelievable. Congratulations Real So Cal 2009 Girls North Ranch White Team for winning the 2018 Cal South Governors State Cup Championship!

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