The Loudoun Soccer Elite Clubs National League under-17 girls’ team has won the league’s 2021 National Playoff Showcase, winning four straight against teams from across the country in Florida heat and rain.
The Loudoun team in red, after qualifying for one of 16 spots in the country in their bracket, charged through a four-game single-elimination bracket, defeating teams from as far away as California. They clinched the championship Monday, July 5 with a 2-0 victory over Michigan’s Vardar SC.
It comes after a crazy year for the team, said coach Dave Bucciero. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had to play all local ECNL teams. Nonetheless they built up a record good enough to qualify for the postseason.
“Going down to Florida, it was challenging because it was very hot, but the other thing I didn’t realize—It’s the rainy season down there, so just about every day, storms came in and games were moved,” Bucciero said.
The team quickly found that out—their first game, which kicked off in the middle of the day, was called with only seven minutes left to play. They came back at night to play the last even minutes. Another game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., didn’t start until 9:40 p.m., lasting until almost midnight.
He said many of the players been together for years as they’ve grown up.
“Many of them go to school around here, they got to Briar Woods and Riverside and Stone Bridge,” Bucciero said. “This was my second year coaching them, and they’re a great group of kids. They work hard, and they’ve got great team chemistry because the team’s been together for along time, even before I coached them.”
Now, the team is set for some well-earned down time.
“We’re taking three weeks off before we start preparing for next year, and everyone’s getting a break from soccer,” Bucciero said. “It’ll be a nice time to go on vacation and get a complete mental and physical break.”