The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
There’s nothing more dramatic in soccer, than a game that’s decided by penalty kicks: when each team sends five players to the 12 yard line, to kick one-on-one against their opposing goalkeeper, to decide a tied game.
But, how’s this for soccer drama: you are 14 years old, and your game goes to penalty kicks, in a foreign country, in a 40,000 seat stadium, against the home town favorite?
That’s exactly what happened FC Alliance premier soccer club coach Alex Zahajko, and the girls from the Woodinville, Washington area, who traveled to San Sebastian, Spain, to compete in this year’s international 21st Annual Donosti Cup.
In their semi-final game, against the home-town favorite Atletico Madrid, the game went to penalty kicks, and the FC Alliance goalkeeper, Kristen Barclay, blocked three of the opposing team’s kicks. Not only did the girls win that game, in a “dream come true”, they went on to win their 14-year-old age bracket and be declared Champions of the Donosti Cup.
Participation in the Donosti Cup was exciting from the opening ceremonies. The tournament (www.donosticup.com) is one of the largest youth soccer events in Europe. Coach Alex Zahajko and the FC Alliance girls were one of 387 teams, 7,446 players, in the tournament.
In addition, there were teams from the five continents, 23 countries, and more than 1,000 matches, during the tournament week, July 1-7. The opening ceremonies gave the girls a chance to mingle with 10,000 people from all over the world, waving the American flag with gusto.
Of course, the trip was only made possible by the hard work of all the families, who did an intense two years of fund-raising in order to pay for the international travel.
Was the hard work worth it? “Oh, yes,” answers Coach Alex. “I heartily recommend the international travel experience to other teams.”
The FC Alliance team’s final Donosti Cup game was decisive: a win, 3 to 0, over Tolosa FC. And although the dream tournament was over, and Coach Alex and the girls on their way home to Washington, the memories will never be forgotten.
FC Alliance’s Donasti Cup Team Members
Coach Alex Zahajko
Players: Maria Zahajko, Meghan Tveit, Erin Edmonds, Rachael Moulton, Alexa Iacolucci, Alicia Barker, Kristen Barclay, Sophia Viviano, Careena Alaoui, Sierra Utton, Sara Christensen, Kat Deboodt, Ciara DeGraff, Elizabeth Holmdahl, Jordan Lemieux