THOMASTON - It wasn’t just a great weekend for women’s soccer on the international level, as several are girls playing for CT Rush Elite 06 team competed in the finals of the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships in Charleston, West Virginia.
Claire Saunders (defensive back and midfielder) and Corinne Mola (goalie) from Thomaston, and Layla Coppola (offensive wing / midfielder) of Woodbury represented the area as they faced some of the nation’s top teams while playing for a Rush Elite team that represented Connecticut in the Eastern Regional competition.
The Elite squad is made up of girls from three branch organizations throughout Connecticut: Central (Terryville/Thomaston/Watertown/Litchfield/Woodbury area), Shoreline (Madison/Guilford/Branford area), and Southwest (Wilton/Danbury/Brookfield area).
The Eastern Regional Championships consisted of 13 State Cup winners and seven wildcard bids that were distributed to other top teams in the region that rounded out a field of 20 teams.
The 20 teams were then divided into brackets consisting of four teams each, who would have to play each other to advance to the knock out round.
CT Rush Elite (CT #1 /26th Region/ 125th Nation), had a difficult first game against the defending regional champion Maryland Rush Montgomery Blue Coyotes, who handed Connecticut a 2-0 loss to begin round robin play.
The team won it’s next two games against Keystone FC Premier from Pennsylvania by a 2-0 scare, then went on to defeat the Rochester (NY) Lancers, 3-0, to gain enough points to win the top wildcard slot into the knockout round.
In the Quarterfinals, Connecticut needed to comeback from a 1-0 halftime deficit to defeat a tough Alleycats Academy (NY) Red team, 2-1 in a very competitive match.
On to the semifinals.
Against a determined Ellicott City (MD) 06 team, the 90-plus degree heat and no substitutions for Ellicott worked to the advantage of the Rush Elite, and they won the match 3-0 to advance to the finals against a very strong Real Jersey (NJ) FC 06 side.
The final match was a hard-fought battle; a strong defensive effort kept the game scoreless late into the second half.
With less than 10 minutes to go in regulation time, Real Jersey broke through the Rush defense and broke the deadlock, then held on for a 1-0 victory which sent them to Kansas City for the National Championship Tournament, which will be held July 22-26.
Saunders and Mola, who also play for Thomaston Middle School and Coppola, who plays for Woodbury Middle School in the fall season will have some interesting stories to tell their teammates when they return about the “Beautiful Game” at another level.