By Matt Schwab - Special to Mustang Soccer
Five outstanding Mustang Soccer players, Jenna West, Leah Freeman, Brooke Hale, Jordyn Young and Megan Rucker, had a memorable and highly successful experience at the world’s largest youth tournament, the Gothia Cup, held in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The Mustang stars played for NorCal PDP among the top U16/17 players in Northern California. The dynamic squad advanced to the U17 championship match before finishing as the runner-up. NorCal topped its group with a 2-0-1 record before reeling off 13 goals over two playoff wins.
Each year about 1,700 teams from 80 nations take part in 4,500 games in the Gothia Cup, dubbed the Youth World Cup. Mustang ECNL coaching director Mike Kelley took part in the impressive spectacle at the age of 16.
“It’s a fun thing for the players,” Kelley says of the massive event in which teams play in front of crowds of 2,500 to 3,000 in the semifinals.
With a boost from its Mustang U16 and U17 players, NorCal was absolutely up to the challenge, outscoring three group opponents 10-4. It opened with a 2-2 draw against Djurgardens IF (Sweden) before besting Bayer 04 Levurkusen 1-0 and Kristianstads DFF (Sweden) 7-2.
NorCal opened the playoffs with a wild 7-6 win over Umea IK FF (Sweden) to stay alive. West scored the winning goal to break a 6-6 tie in the 74th minute. Rucker scored earlier to tie it 2-2.
NorCal then routed Pallokerho Keski Uusimaa (Finland) 6-0 in the playoff semifinals before falling to a team from Minnesota Thunder in the final.
Young and Rucker scored in the semifinals. Young also scored in the 7-2 triumph, a match which had incomplete statistics.