While America was intently tracking the U.S. team’s progress in the Women’s World Cup, a North County squad already had an impressive trophy in its worldly possession.
“The World Cup does inspire the girls a lot,” coach Craig Barclay said. “They think if they keep their head down and work hard enough, it’s a potential opportunity for them.’’
The Surf Soccer Club under-12 unit, led by Barclay, didn’t squander its recent chance to prove it was the best in west and beyond. It won the United States Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championship with the majority of its players hailing from North County.
“They are a pretty special group of kids,” said Barclay, a Carlsbad resident. “They all bring something totally different to the team with their characteristics and different talents. That’s probably the best way to describe them.’’
Other adjectives are focused and fierce, which sounds like the gritty women they admire who are competing for our nation. The Surf displayed the same want-to with a dominating season that brought with it much sweat and success.
The Surf claimed the Manchester City Cup, the Surf Cup, the California Regional League, and the State Cup, for the fourth straight year.
This wasn’t a team that was just tops in the neighborhood. It was all that, of course, but its cup runneth over with the Far West Regionals crown.
When beating Legends, another Southern California team, 2-1, the significance of last month’s FWR victory was significant. It mean the Surf reigned supreme over representatives from — take a deep breath — Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
The state of the Surf’s play was easy to gauge. But Barclay said it was the chemistry away from the pitch that led to its winnings ways.
“Their friendship and camaraderie off the field plays an important role,’’ he said.
That meant going bowling and the movies together and splashing in the waves at a Surf beach party.
Does that guarantee triumphs? Hard to say, but those were the Surf players crammed into a limo for the ride home from Norco, California, with the FWR championship.
But the thrilling season wasn’t one smooth patch of road. With the team’s wins comes a willingness from opponents to try anything and everything to slow it down.
Some were aggressive offensively, while others played keep-away with a defensive slant hoping to hang around and pin an unlikely loss on their celebrated rivals.
So the Surf would adjust, attacking teams the way it saw best.
“It all depends on what the other team gives us because we see a lot of different things,” said Barclay, who’s in his fifth year coaching with the Surf. “We can break down teams in different ways and we like to think we can control play, with or without the ball.’’
Melanie Bareness, the Surf’s leading scorer, found the back of the net twice in the FWR final. Then Legends cut the deficit in half with a goal with three minutes remaining.
But goalkeeper Charlotte Morton of Carlsbad kept her poise, with defensive help from Ava Giada (Carlsbad) and Ava Paolini (San Marcos) to seize the win.
“There was quite a bit of pressure,” Barclay said. “But our girls stayed calm.”
Other players from North County included: Carlsbad’s Ava Sherrer and Melissa Tatar, San Marcos’ Journey Middleborn and Vista’s Sophia Carter.
Photo Caption: The Surf soccer club’s girls 12-and-under team, consisting mostly of players from North County, won the recent Far West Regional title in Norco. Surf is coached by Craig Barclay of Carlsbad. Courtesy photo
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports