Earlier this summer, the Chesterfield United 97G Elite team won the state cup by marching through a grueling 32-team tournament, a victory that also qualified the team for the Region I Championship Tournament held at Marshall University in Huntingdon, W.Va. The tournament brought together state cup winners from 13 states from Maine to Virginia.
The state cup featured Virginia’s elite teams in a single-elimination format. Chesterfield took the cup by virtue of a 2-1 victory over the team from Ashburn, Va.
“The State Cup was a wonderful experience that we won quite unexpectedly,” said Andy Carpenter, whose daughter Dillyn plays center-back for the Chesterfield squad. “No one had really planned on us moving on to the Region I Tournament, and, as a result, three of our starters had other commitments for the July 4 week.” She continued, “We only took the minimum roster of eight players, which meant that our girls played every minute of every game.”
In what can only be described as a feat of intestinal fortitude, the eight local girls faced top competition over 320 consecutive minutes in oppressive heat and humidity to secure the US Youth Soccer Regional Championship. In each game, Chesterfield faced state winners who boasted rosters of between 11 and 14 players. The girls were spurred on during the tournament by a growing contingency sporting custom T-shirts emblazoned with the message, “8 is all it takes.”
With its minimum roster, Chesterfield was forced to play the tournament with several players out of position. In the first game, the Pennsylvania East team took advantage in cruising to a 4-0 victory. It appeared that the Parade of States was going to be the highlight of the week, as Chesterfield was scheduled to go up against a strong Rhode Island team the next afternoon. In near 100-degree temperatures, however, goals were scored by Alexis Page, Jillian Butler of Matoaca Middle, and JoJo Taylor to secure a 3-0 victory.
The locals went on to defeat West Virginia 1-0 and New York East 2-1 in overtime to reach the final match.
The championship match against Southern Maine quickly turned into a midfield stalemate that seemed to favor the locals. Finally, in the game’s 26th minute, Susanna Friedrichs connected for a score off of a corner. The remainder of the match was a test of wills with no further scoring, allowing Chesterfield to bring home the title.
In addition, the girls were awarded the US Youth Soccer Fair Play Award for the U12 division. The Fair Play Award goes to the team that best demonstrates respect for self and others, promotes safety and skill development, displays good sportsmanship in competition, shows appreciation of opponents and demonstrates respect for officials.
Throughout the tournament, the outmanned Chesterfield team showed resiliency, determination, endurance and character in winning this prestigious contest. They also proved to be tremendous ambassadors for the sport, for United FC and for the entire state of Virginia.