TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA
At the turn of the year, girls teams from across the county traveled to Tampa Bay, Florida for the chance to compete and impress at the DPL Winter Showcase. With over 150 college coaches in attendance, the event served as the ultimate opportunity for players to put their talents on display.
Rhode Island was well represented by our G2009 Elite, G2008 Elite Blue, G2008 Elite White, G2007 Elite Blue and G05/06 Elite teams. "The DPL Winter Showcase is an event we see a huge amount of value in," said Girls Director Aleksej Skundric, "As well as the opportunity to get our players in front of College coaches (over 150 in attendance) the event runs at a very useful part of the season. With our senior team players coming back from the High School season mid-November, getting 11v11 games in the Florida weather at this point in the season is immensely beneficial to teams and individual players alike. All of our teams got excellent competition and in addition it is always nice to enjoy a bit of success. Congratulations to our G2009 Elite and G2008 Elite Blue for winning their respective brackets."
G2009 Elite faced a schedule consisting of Florida Hawks FC, Charlotte Development Academy, and Arkansas Comets FC. Martin Yarumian, who recently took charge of the group, had this to say about their experience, "The DPL Winter Showcase was a great way to restart from our club's winter break. The Showcase provided quality competition and a great facility to start the new year. Our 2009 Elite girls were able to top the bracket and win all three games. The girls grew stronger and improved their style of play as the tournament went on which, for me, was the most rewarding of it all. In the final game, a goal with under a minute left, saw our girls take the lead and win the group. To see them happy and excited made all the preparation work worth it. We'll look to bring the momentum to Dallas, TX, in March, for the DPL Summit."
The team won 5-1 in their first outing and 2-1 in their following two games to finish as bracket winners.
G2008 Elite White's schedule featured Florida United SC, AFC Lightning, and Roswell Santos SC. "Playing at the DPL Winter Showcase is always fun because you get to play teams from around the country and those teams will often be at different points in their soccer season. In our opening game we played a team from Georgia who were at the tail end of their club soccer season so they were closer to their peak. In our second game we played a local Florida team who didn't face the burden of travel. Two quality tests for us in which we were able to show enormous character and defensive commitment starting from our striker all the way back to the goalkeeper. Our use of the ball got better with each half we played as we were able to work ourselves out of habits developed over the HS season. Two ties as far as results go but two big wins as far as what those games gave us," said G2008 Elite White Coach Aleksej Skundric.
The group finished with two ties from two games played as a result of weather cancelling their third game.
G2008 Elite Blue went up against Southern Soccer Academy, West Florida Flames, and New England Surf. Coach Jim McGirr reflected on their tournament with these words, "The DPL Showcase in Tampa proved to be a success for our 2008 Elite Blue team with dominant performances and results which allowed us to win our bracket. The event comes at a perfect time during the long winter months to keep us sharp and competitive. Playing against other strong DPL teams from across the country, will hopefully give us the springboard we need going into future showcases and our upcoming spring competition."
Despite their third game being cancelled for similar weather reasons, the two wins they earned propelled them to top spot in their bracket.
G2007 Elite Blue's opponents were Charlotte Development Academy, Arkansas Comets FC and Pinecrest Premier. “The RI Surf 07 Girls always look forward to opening their competitive season at the DPL Winter Showcase," Said Coach Patrick McCue, "This year we headed down to Tampa, FL without some key players due to injuries, illnesses and family commitments; however, the girls that were there and healthy, made the most of it, as we finished 2-1 on the weekend. Given the fact that we have only been training 6 weeks due to High School, I’m very happy where we are and we know exactly what we need to work on. Additionally the girls are excited to have our Gatorade Player of the Year and USC All-American, Emma Kucal (ACL) back and contributing (5 goals, 1 assist). We are definitely in a great spot as we approach the games that matter this spring.”
Following two wins in their opening two games, they suffered defeat in their third and finished second in their bracket.
G05/06 Elite matched up against Southern Soccer Academy, Florida Rush and Colorado United in their bracket play. Coach Jim McGirr had this to say about his other team playing in the competition, "Our oldest age group was extremely unlucky not to represent themselves better, losing their first 2 matches while performing at a high level. After starting the weekend strong & healthy, we were struck with injuries and illness, leaving us with only 11 players for our final match and 1 of our goalkeepers playing in the field. This was the moment that our true character was tested and the girls passed with flying colors, winning the match 1-0 and a bond that will hopefully galvanize them for the upcoming spring season!"
Following two defeats to open the competition, they managed to dig deep and win their final game 1-0 despite only having eleven fit players and a goalkeeper playing in the field.
G2012/G2013 SCRIMMAGE SERIES SHOWDOWN
Our G2012 Elite and G2013 Blue teams made the trip down South as well to compete in DME Academy's "Scrimmage Showdown Series". The 2012s played West Florida Flames, DME Academy and Mutiny, with the first two games being played in an 11v11 format. The 2013s faced a schedule that included Mutiny's 2012 team, Chargers, West Florida Flames and DME Academy's B2013 group.
Girls Director Aleksej Skundric had this to say about the experience, "Clubs out of the Northeast face certain climate challenges other parts of the country don't. Over the past couple of years we have continued to add and revolutionize our winter programming in order to provide our players the best developmental opportunities yearwide. As such getting full size games against good opposition at this point in the season is a huge plus. This year we were able to provide our GU11 Blue and GU12 Elite teams an opportunity to travel down to Florida and play some quality teams in the 9v9 and 11v11 format. Our G2013 Blue got four quality games against a G2012 team, B2013 team, and two quality G2013 teams. Our G2012 Elite team got two 11v11 games against two of Florida's top U12 teams and a 9v9 game as well. Unfortunately their fourth game was canceled due to the weather. Getting this weekend of games in will provide a huge boost to both teams, in a period of the season difficult to utilize. In addition to the soccer side of things these travel events always provide so much to the girls in terms of team bonding. Both groups are that much closer having spent the weekend together. I look forward to seeing all the results of our winter season grind in the Spring!"