The Dosveedanya 93 Red girls and the SCFC Fury boys head to Virginia for National Cup soccer tournament
Malia Arrant was in Colorado with her Dosveedanya girls soccer team when the phone call came: Would her squad like to fill a suddenly-open spot in the U.S. Club Soccer regional tournament?
Ultimately, the answer was yes.
Jimmy Dunn was in California with his South County Futbol Club boys team when the wake-up call came: Would his team like to start stepping up its game to the level players and coaches alike felt it should be?
Ultimately, that answer was yes, too.
Starting today, the different paths of the two U-15 Kent Youth Soccer Association teams are converging on a path to the same destination: Virginia Beach, Va., for the National Cup VII finals.
Round-robin bracket competition begins today, with championship games set for Tuesday.
“This is the first time we’ll see national teams. It’ll be a new experience,” Arrant said of her crew, officially known as Dosveedanya 93 Red. “We don’t have any preconceived notions about teams we’re playing.”
That same mindset is prevalent with Dunn’s side, which will carry the SCFC 93 Fury banner to Virginia.
“Anyone who has come through (Cup-qualifying) regionals is going to be pretty decent,” Dunn said. “(But) even if we were to win a national title, it’s not the end of the road. It’s just part of the journey.”
For the first time, that journey will feature not just one, but two teams from the top-level clubs under the KYSA umbrella: Dosveedanya on the girls side, and SCFC on the boys side.
“I’m excited to see the competition and see who’s going to bring it,” said Katie Pennington, a 14-year-old midfielder for Dosveedanya who will be a freshman at Kentwood High this fall.
Added Isaac Ferrer, the goalkeeper for the SCFC boys who’ll be attending Auburn Mountainview High, “I just want us to play well so we can so everyone how good Washington is.”
Out of the blue
After making it to the State Cup semifinals last fall, the Dosveedanya 93 Red girls got back into action earlier this year by winning the Starfire Spring Classic in Tukwila. In June, they split four games playing in the U15/16 Elite Division at the Rocky Mountain Cup & College Showcase in Boulder, Colo.
It was while they were there that one of the teams set to play in the National Cup regionals in Boise dropped out, and the tournament director got in touch with Arrant.
She consulted with the parents and players, then accepted the invitation – but with a caveat.
“Before we said we would go to (regionals), we polled the parents to see if we should go to nationals,” Arrant said, “and they said no (because of the cost).”
Everyone understood and was fine with that. Then something happened: Dosveedanya went out and won the regional tournament. And it did so in dramatic fashion, scoring with about 30 seconds left in the second and final 10-minute overtime period to beat rival West Sound in the finals, 3-2.
“When they said no to nationals, we went in knowing this was it,” said Arrant, whose team was missing a handful of players to injury at regionals, including regular goalkeeper Kayla Yokers to a torn ACL. “Then we won in double overtime, and everyone was so excited. The parents were the ones who got the e-mails going.”
Those e-mails led to a reversal of the earlier no-go decision. And while the club continues to seek donations and other support to help defray some of the costs, the girls are in Virginia, ready for today’s opener in the top-drawer Super Group against Michigan Rush Nike.
“We got better every game,” said Jordan Kiga, a defender who will be a freshman at Kennedy High in Burien and who also was one of the several players on Dosveedanya’s “goalkeeper by committee” to take a turn in the net in Boise. “We progressed and we built more confidence.”
The dramatic title game notwithstanding, midfielder Reilly Retz, who will be a freshman at Kentwood, said the 1-0 semifinal victory against Snohomish United Black was the performance that stood out in Boise.
“The semis felt the most rewarding after we won,” she said. “It felt like we fought the hardest for 70 minutes (in that game).”
While the adversity of injuries hampers some teams at all levels, that hasn’t been the case here – the goalkeeping situation being Exhibit A.
“We have a lot of real good athletes who could come in and get the job done,” Retz said.
Now, the next job awaits in Virginia Beach. But Pennington felt getting through regionals was a solid test – and solid preparation.
“I knew it was going to be a hard competition,” she said. “But we brought our game.”
Getting on track
The SCFC Fury boys have made a gradual rise, albeit with a few valleys along the way. Last fall, they went to a league placement tournament, won all three games by a combined margin of 11-2, and qualified for statewide Premier-1 play, becoming the first SCFC team to reach that top level.
But breezing into P-1 didn’t translate into breezing through it.
“I knew we had a good team,” said Dunn, who previously has coached at Kentwood (twice) and helped start the boys soccer program at Tahoma in the late 1970s. “But we had lost some games or tied some games, and I thought, ‘We have to get over this hump.’ For awhile, we were in the middle of the pack. We weren’t playing how I thought we could play.”
The Fury made the finals of the Evergreen International tournament, then won the Puma Pacific Coast Challenge. Last November, they went to the Nomads Thanksgiving tournament in San Diego and lost two of their three games, scoring just one goal and allowing four.
“Those teams thumped on us. It was an eye-opener,” Dunn said. “They had never been out of state to play teams of this caliber.
“We came back and we ran the table.”
That gave the Fury the P-1 title with a 9-3-2 record, but their momentum didn’t carry over into the Washington State Youth Soccer Association Championship Cup, as they bowed out in two straight.
Suffice to say that momentum is back. SCFC went 3-0-1 in the National Cup regional qualifier in Boise, including a 3-1 victory against Westside Metro of Portland in the opener, and a 6-2 rout of Eastside power Crossfire Flory in the championship game.
“I think we can win some games (at nationals),” said 14-year-old forward Jordan Downing, who will attend Tahoma. “The first game (of regionals) showed that we could beat these teams from other states. We’ve stepped up in practice and are working a lot harder.”
Danny Lunder, a defender who’ll be going to Kentwood, said a 1-1 tie against Spokane Shadow Navy in the final round-robin game was crucial.
“That’s when we started to realize this was a possibility,” he said. “They were the toughest team we played in regionals.”
One of the keys is goalkeeper Ferrer, who came here from Venezuela with has family 2 1/2 years ago. In the final, he came up with three point-blank saves, back to back to back. Like his teammates, he’s eager to get started in Virginia, where the Fury open play in the Premier Division this morning against Annandale United of Virginia.
“It will be a tough tournament, but I know we can do well,” Ferrer said. “We have good team chemistry. It doesn’t matter what happens, we’ll all be together.”