Local girls claim US Youth Soccer National Championship
Loaded with talent from the South Bay, Beach Futbol Club Ingrassia capitalized on a stellar offensive and defensive performance to win the Girls U18 division at the US Youth Soccer National Championships presented by the National Guard in Germantown, MD.
Loaded with South Bay talent, the team outscored opponents 13-0 in three pool play matches and 17-0 over all five tournament matches to win the Frank Kelly Cup on July 27.
The team was led by Long Beach State head women’s soccer coach Mauricio Ingrassia, who began coaching the Beach FC Long Beach team when the girls played in the U12 division. The South Bay team merged with Long Beach two years ago.
“This means the world to me,” Ingrassia said. “This is the first group I ever met with at U12 and have been cultivating this age group ever since. This is my first national championship as a coach at the youth level. I’ve won a couple at the Junior College level but not with the youth.
Nonie Frishette, who will be entering her senior year at Mira Costa, anchored the defense and was presented the Golden Glove, an award voted on by each coach to honor the Most Outstanding Goalkeeper. Frishette has committed to play at Wake Forest University.
In the championship game, Ashley Gonzales (Chino Hills) scored in the 72nd minute and added an insurance goal in the 89th minute to give Beach FC a 2-0 victory over defending national champion Cleveland United White of North Ridgeville, OH.
Gonzales finished with four goals in the five-game tournament, which tied for first with three other players including former Beach Cities high school standouts Shannon Simon (Redondo Union) and Kimby Keever (Mira Costa). Simon and Keever will remain teammates when both attend the University of Washington this fall.
Simon won the Golden Ball award presented to the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I was a little surprised to win the award,” Simon admitted. “It wouldn’t have happened without the great play of my teammates.”
“We have a certain style of play that focuses on possession of the ball,” Simon explained. “Cleveland played a different style of ball, but the BRYC Elite 95 (Virginia) team in the semis was similar to us and made it a tough match that we won 2-0.”
Ingrassia feels the team is the star.
“Our possession-oriented play helps us rest and defend ourselves with the ball,” Ingrassia said. “If we have the ball, the other team can’t score. But definitely Nonie Frishette, Katie Pratt-Thompson, Chidera Akubuilo, Mandy McKeegan, Kimby Keever, Allie Emmons, and Sami Reinhard all helped our defensive shape.”
Simon believes playing against a high level of competition for two months gave the team confidence entering the tournament. The Beach FC U18 team had defeated Cleveland 4-1 during National League competition and had been practicing with the Beach FC team that captured the Women’s Premier Soccer League title and was comprised of elite college players and/or graduates, players with USA or Foreign National Team experience, ex-professional players, and elite youth players from the Beach Futbol Club organization.
Winning the National Championship had special meaning for the Simon family. Shannon’s father, Robert, was the team’s manager and her sister, Jacqui Simon, a former Redondo Union standout, served as assistant coach.
“I’ve been involved with club soccer for 18 years and can’t remember this large a group from the South Bay being on one national championship team,” Robert Simon said. “To win the National Championship is the pinnacle for any club team.”
The crown was a fitting swan-song for Jacqui, who is stepping down from the coaching ranks after three-and-a-half years with Beach FC and last season as an assistant coach with Ingrassia at Long Beach State.
Beach FC qualified for the national tournament after recording a perfect 7-0 record in the US Youth Soccer National League, scoring 26 goals and only surrendering two. Keever emerged as the 2013-14 National League leading scorer.
“It was a goal of ours to win the national championship but not expected,” Keever said. “We had never even reached the tournament before. We had been playing really good defense for awhile and it carried over. It was pretty amazing not to give up a goal in the entire tournament.”
Other players from the Mira Costa High School program included Mckenna Doyle and Amanda McKeegan, Players from West Torrance were Chidera Akubuilo, Megan McComas and Jessica Vincent and Madison Kennel represented Redondo Union.
Other team members included Long Beach Wilson’s Katherine Pratt-Thompson and Samantha Reinhard, Kelly Kessloff (Cypress), Michelle Reed (La Serna), Allison Emmons (Los Alamitos), Kayla Lombardo (Rancho Cucamonga) and Haley Magana (Valley Christian).
Beach FC also won the National Championship in the U16 division.