Scott Gibson couldn’t stop raving about the latest group of Riverhounds Development Academy players that captured it’s second national title in the past three years.
“A helluva group,” Gibson, the Riverhounds Academy Director and head coach of the U-19 girls said. “They’ve been around each other for a long time, and won previously as a younger age group. But what makes them special is that they’re a fun group. They’re creative — and like to try things, and think outside the box as players.”
For the group, as a part of the Riverhounds Development Academy, won the championship in their respective bracket at US Club Soccer’s National Cup XVI, July 21-24 in Westfield, Ind.
It also didn’t look like they would have a chance to make a run for the National Cup, as they were struggling with injuries.
“We finished second in our regional, but we got invited when another team dropped out,” Gibson said. “We got a couple players from another club, Arsenal, who really helped, and we got a few of our injured players back and took advantage of it.”
It took some perseverance, without some key players and overcoming defensive-minded tactics from its finals opponent Lake Grove-Newfield SC Tsunami, but the Hounds pulled through with 2-0 win to take the Cup victory.
“It was a challenge, but I am very proud of this group, they really pulled through and showed what they’re capable of, and how talented they are,” Gibson said.
The team combined a number of ’99 and ’00 players from five counties around Pittsburgh region. When looking at the roster, it was clear if you followed high school soccer in our region, some of the top female players were represented on some of the perennial top teams like Norwin, South Park and Moon.
From the group, two moved on prior to the tournament to begin with college experiences — Marisa Johnson (Ohio State) and Marissa Dezorzi (top ranked West Virginia), while many others will return to high school.
Due to the aforementioned injuries, Gibson said that RDA were able to bring on some players from other clubs in the area, like Delaney Snyder from Arsenal Football Club of PA, to help build a roster that would put the many of the best players from the area on the same team.
“With some players like Delaney, we’ve come full-circle,” Gibson explained. “She came to us when we started our Academy training center when she was six or seven years old. But for her to come back, and rejoin us, it was great and elevated the rest of our team. I really appreciate the Arsenal coaches for allowing that to happen, and be willing to provide players with the best opportunities to develop and compete at the highest level.”
Gibson and the RDA staff also enjoy that many of these players can also compete against each other in the Fall season during the high school season, while training about once per week with the RDA. They eventually get back into full training in the Winter months.
“We have a number of players that played in WPIAL and PIAA playoffs. It was fun to watch Norwin, which had five or six of our players take on Canon-McMillan at Highmark Stadium,” Gibson said.
Gibson said that while some of the players from this specific group will move on, like Johnson and Dezorzi in college and others will be too old to compete next year, there’s still a large core group that will return as they begin play, stepping up into the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) in 2017-18.
“It should be another fun group again next year,” Gibson added. “Can’t wait to see what they can do.”
Riverhounds 2016-17 U-19 Girls:
- Sam Wexell, Norwin
- Emily Arnold, Norwin
- Cassandra Schiffhauer,Montour
- Kristi Kania, Moon
- Courtney Hurey, West Allegheny
- Katy Ericson, Norwin
- Alexis Kendro, Norwin
- Hannah Nguyen, Penn-Trafford
- Emily Burke, Southeast (Ohio)
- Courtney Coholich, Hampton
- Emily Harrigan, Norwin
- Delaney Snyder, Moon
- Riley O’Korn, Canon-McMillan
- Lyndsee Monac, New Brighton
- Kaele Kloc, Evangel Heights
- *Carly Pcholinsky and Jordyn Minda (South Park), Alyssa Victor (Norwin), Marissa Fiala (Laurel Highlands) and Rebecca Rust Ellis
- **Marissa DeZorzi Yough
- **Marisa Johnson Bethel Park
* — Injured for national Cup
** — left for college before national cup