A team representing AYSO Region 57 and featuring several Corona del Mar residents performed at a high level at the AYSO National Games in Riverside earlier this month.
The 14-and-under girls team made it to the "Extra" (top tier) division finals before falling to a team from Hawaii, 1-0, on July 7. There were 24 teams in the division.
CdM residents Libby Fitch, Beatrice Marshall, Celeste Wayne, Caroline Wood, Caroline Casey, Ava McKenzie and Alyssa McKenzie all contributed for the national runners-up. They have been playing together on this team for years, and it was their last time as a group before they all leave for top-flight club teams.
Fitch, Wayne, Casey and Ava McKenzie will be freshmen at Corona del Mar High. Wood will be a sophomore at CdM, Alyssa McKenzie will be an eighth-grader at CdM and Marshall will be a sophomore at Mater Dei.
The team was also made up of seven girls from North Irvine and one from Tustin. The Region 57 squad went 3-0-1 in pool play, earning wins against Redondo Beach, Utah and Los Alamitos and tying against Hawaii.
The local girls then bested New York, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and Thousand Oaks, 2-0, in the semifinals. The loss to Hawaii in the finals occurred even as the Region 57 squad outshot them, 14-2, hitting the crossbar twice and the side post twice, Coach Michael McKenzie said.
Marshall anchored the defense all tournament, with Casey, Ellie Radmilovich and Aniela Bokota providing sound technical defense.
Scoring was done by Sachi Singh, Ava McKenzie, KK Lee, Kaylee Nguyen and Alyssa McKenzie, with great midfield play from Wood, Fitch, Wayne, Lindsey Cho and Deeyana Roshanzaer. Taytum Reddington was the goalkeeper and made some incredible stops.
This group was been a finalist or outright winner in over 15 tournaments in California, Arizona and Tennessee over the last three years.
"This is a special group of ladies," Michael McKenzie said. "The way they came together and played with such skill and determination was a joy for all of the parents on the sideline to see. These ladies were ambassadors for CdM and Orange County. The way they conducted themselves at the national games made the coaching staff very proud."
The AYSO National Games is an elite tournament held every two years.
Michael McKenzie was assisted by Brian Foster, with Dorolinda Hayden as the social chairwoman.
— From staff reports