For the first time in history, a female goalkeeper started in the FC Barcelona International Tournament’s U14 age group—and she’s from Loudoun County.
Reiley Fitzpatrick, an eighth-grade student at Brambleton Middle School, achieved the mark during the weeklong tournament, which was played in Barcelona, Spain and featured about 2,000 soccer players from around the world.
“It was a great cultural experience,” Reiley said. “I was honored.”
The 13-year-old goalie’s appearance on FCBEscola Northern Virginia’s U14 team, which included 11 players and only two girls, came after a selection process that found her to be one of the best soccer players among a group of 70 in her age group and the best goalkeeper in the group.
“She was a girl on a boys’ team – she played amazingly,” said Juan Carlos Garcia, the director of FCBEscola Northern Virginia at Evergreen Sportsplex in Leesburg. “She was the one that deserved to go and play with them.”
Reiley and her team, which made its first ever appearance at the tournament this year, initially advanced in the tournament when they placed third after playing five different teams. They then went on to finish second within their bracket. Reiley said gameplay was intense throughout those games, as they played teams from Russia, India and Europe. “That trip made me better and I learned a lot from it,” she said.
One of Reiley’s most memorable experiences from the week came when her team played FCBEscola Barcelona. That game was broadcast globally on Barca TV, FC Barcelona’s official media outlet. “It was an incredible experience,” Reiley said.
Her mom, Sonja, said that seeing Reiley on TV during the tournament was especially rewarding.
“Our family is extremely proud of her,” she said. “Reiley works very hard and strives to be the best in everything she does.”
In addition to competing in the international tournament and getting the chance to play at Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s home stadium, Reiley and her teammates got to meet FC Barcelona Midfielder Sergi Roberto and Club President Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Reiley started playing soccer in kindergarten and quickly developed a passion for the goalie position. Almost a year since making it onto FCBEscola’s Northern Virginia team, Reiley said that she’s gotten a lot out of the Barca coaching style.
“They really want all the players to improve,” she said.
With about a month left in middle school, Reiley is planning to play soccer at Briar Woods High School in the fall. She also wants to play Division 1 soccer in college. She’s already setting her sights on a few schools in her home state of Florida. Of course, her ambitions reach far beyond that.
“I would love to play professional if I could get there,” she said. “It’s definitely something that I would love to be able to do.”