Calgary minor soccer stars win Copa Del Mar Invitational Tournament
By April Cruz
San Diego is really nice this time of year. A really nice place to win gold that is!
The girls under 16 Tier 1 Calgary minor soccer team known as the Blizzard Force did exactly that at the Copa Del Mar Invitational Tournament. This high-level competition is held every year in San Diego at the end of July.
It feels good to know that for the sixth annual Copa Del Mar, a Calgary minor soccer team took gold in the final match of U18 girls. Incidentally, the match was against the home team, the Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks. That’s right, the win happened on their turf. It wasn’t easy, either.
The tournament is considered a ‘show case tournament’ which means scouts from American colleges attend, on the hunt for players considered to be ‘diamonds in the rough’ according to the event’s site. From being noticed at the Copa Del Mar, a player could leave the experience with a soccer scholarship. No pressure, girls.
It was also one of three major trips per year that the Blizzard Force makes to show case tournaments. They competed in Phoenix last October. Played again in Las Vegas in February and can now check San Diego off their list.
The extra-sweet fact about this tournament versus the other two; the girls made it to the semi-finals in Phoenix and Vegas but lost. On both trips the girls returned disappointed yet undaunted. The win at this tournament meant a huge, emotional payoff of a journey several months long. It definitely helps to lose in order to feel the euphoria of winning.
The team was guaranteed three games over the course of the weekend. This meant a lot of training and hard work leading up to the moments on the pitch.
The Force’s head coach, Glenn Ramsay as well, assistant coach, Dave Cryer didn’t waste any time after they all arrived on the Wednesday before the weekend tournament.
Dave Cryer provided some insight on the preparation.
“We had training sessions of about one hour and a half each, three times a day on the Thursday and Friday. Then the girls played on Saturday, Sunday, and then the gold medal round on Monday,” he said. “At the hotel, in between training, the girls were really able to bond as a team.”
The training sessions focused on finishing and a strong defence. The system of play that the Blizzard Force coaches have developed and consistently focused on for their girls is to limit the shots taken on their net.
The summer league standings posted on the Calgary Minor Soccer Association website definitely support this system working for them. Out of the nine teams in their division, they have the lowest ‘goals against’ with just 12 for the entire season.
The team’s strong defence, hard work and time invested by these under 16 girls certainly paid off in San Diego.
The Blizzard Force won their first game on the Saturday 1-nil against Arsenal FC, a team from Southern California.
On the Sunday, the girls faced The Sharks and lost 1 – nil. The same day, they also played a team from Texas and won 2 – 1.
Then came the gold medal game on the Monday. Once again they went toe to toe with the Sharks and came out on top with one goal being scored by Blizzard Force player # 8, Kayla. The Force’s strong defence didn’t let any balls through. The final score 1 – nil for our Calgary minor soccer players.
The girls on the this team have been playing together for four years. Now, no matter where soccer and life takes them, they’ll always have San Diego, and a nice gold medal to show for it.
Kudos to the team, the coaches and the parent group of the Blizzard Force!