BARBOURSVILLE — West Virginia has become the center stage for youth soccer in the Eastern United States with the U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Presidents Cup being played at Barboursville Soccer Complex and in Dunbar’s Shawnee Sports Complex through Tuesday.
But many of the players in the tournament had their eyes on another soccer team, as did others across the nation Sunday.
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team continued play in the Women’s World Cup with a group-stage match at noon Sunday against Chile. As they did in the United States’ 13-0 win over Thailand — along with their 3-0 win over Chile on Sunday — many of the girls soccer players currently in West Virginia were watching.
“They’re intimidating. They beat Thailand 13-0,” said Adi Balanger of Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, one of the players on Beadling 2007 Girls East Blue. “I like (women’s national team co-captain) Carli Lloyd because she’s been on the team a long time.”
Balanger’s teammate Milena Gill of Peter’s Township, Pennsylvania, likes Alex Morgan because the national team co-captain plays forward too.
“When I saw her I liked being a forward after that,” said Gill, 11. “She plays aggressive and it makes me think, ‘We could be that someday.’”
Nearly every girl named a different player she admired on the national team that is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA, the sport’s international governing body. The United States has posted a 9-1 record in 2019 and is a heavy favorite to win its fourth World Cup in France when the competition is completed July 7.
The national team faced criticism from many for the score posted over Thailand and the celebrations after each goal.
The girls in Barboursville for the Eastern Presidents Cup, which concludes preliminary matches on Sunday, had different opinions on the perceived poor sportsmanship on the part of the women’s team.
“I wondered a little after I saw the score,” WVFC 05 14-under player Kali Yates. “I felt like the team did a good job but the celebrations were a little bit much.”
Charleston Clash 12U girls coach Nicolette Bell was quick to jump when her players were asked whether they thought the 13-0 score was excessive.
“You have to play to win,” said Bell, a South Africa native who watches her home team as well as the U.S. women. “The points you score can determine first place. You have to keep playing.”
Richard Wilson, head coach of Premier SC 12U Girls Gold from Baltimore, didn’t mince words as he listened in to the question asked of his players.
“I’d love to have 13-0,” he said.
His team scored three goals in a 3-0 defeat of Bell’s Charleston Clash on Saturday.