The South Carolina Surf U14 girls soccer club has a chance to bring home some serious hardware.
The club team based in Mount Pleasant won six games in seven days from June 18 to 24 to claim the Southern Regional Championship in a field of 11 other teams and advance to the United States Youth Soccer (USYS) National Championship against the three other regional victors (Far West, Midwest, and Eastern).
The competition is scheduled for the week of July 19 in Tampa.
The Surf defeated teams from states such as North Carolina, Texas and Florida to advance to nationals, and also won the S.C. state championships back in May, which qualified it for regionals.
“It’s pretty incredible (with) the amount of hard work, grit and determination,” Surf U14 head coach Andy Grist said. “…They really showed a lot of defensive qualities for that tournament that really helped and won them the tournament.”
The South Carolina Surf has 14 teams total from boys and girls U13 to U19, and seven of them won state championships, including U13, U14, U15 and U19 girls, and U13, U14 and U19 boys. The U14 girls were the only Surf club to make it out of regionals and advance to nationals.
Leading the way for the U14 Surf defensively were team captains Addysen Cole and Claudia Hassell, an outside back from West Ashley and a center back from Mount Pleasant, respectively.
I’m beyond excited,” Cole said of going to nationals. “It’s so unreal and I can’t wait. I’m really proud of everyone on my team.”
Being captains, both players knew that other players on the team would look up to them.
“I always like to be positive with my teammates and make sure that we have all communicated, and I like to think of each other as family,” Hassell said. “We all like to lift each other up and just make sure that everybody is on the same page, and we just like to get everybody hyped up with music; just get everybody ready for each and every game.”
Leading the way for the Surf offensively in regionals were Zoey Molten and with four goals and Callah Dando with two. Maddy Gwozdo poured in six assists and Molten added two assists of her own.
The team is made up of players from the Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach areas, and one of those players from the latter is center midfielder Lilah Jennings from Murrells Inlet, who contributed a goal and an assist in regionals.
“It was mostly our preparation,” Jennings said of the team being able to come out on top at regionals. “We always tried to stay hydrated and we always lifted each other up when we were down. Or when we got a goal scored on us, we were always like, ‘Come on, we got this.’”
The other player on the team from the Myrtle Beach area is Grayson Williams, who did not play at regionals but will be joining the squad for nationals.
Cole, Hassell and Jennings also gave a lot of credit to their coaches, including Grist and assistant coaches Tim Kelly and Michelle Ying, and their parents for the support.
Cole is appreciative for the parents doing things like buying them last-minute Clif Bars and chocolate milk, Jennings appreciated all the scrimmages and training sessions Grist set up for them to prepare the team for nationals and Hassell enjoyed when the team would circle up for a prayer before every game.
Grist said he is grateful to First Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant and the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department for providing the team with playing venues.