Century West U15 women’s football team wins national championship


Ahead of the 2021 U.S. Youth President’s Cup National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, July 7-11, the Century West U15 women’s soccer team had one mission in mind: to win the national championship.

Arguably the mission is over for the 18 girls of the Moon Township-based team, which won the gold medal in a dominant fashion, beating teams from Ohio and Utah to win the USYS Presidents. Cup 2021.

Century West defeated League 30 Metasport FC of Utah 1-0 in the final on Sunday July 11 by a score of 1-0, closing a strong run to the final that saw the U15 girls record three total saves, winning by scores 1- 0 on three occasions, while losing just one tournament-wide game by a score of 2-1 to South Orlando SC.

Head coach Chris Lantzy, who has been the girls’ head coach for the Under-12s, struggled to find the words to describe what it meant to him to win the national championship with the squad. girls.

“I was so happy to see them receive their reward for all of their hard work,” Lantzy said. “I told them before the tournament, ‘You train, you’ve worked hard; now it’s time to get your reward ”, and that’s what they did.

“When that final whistle sounded, I kind of stood back and watched the girls celebrate. They are great kids and it’s great to see them get this award for all the hard work; it’s really hard to describe this feeling. I even told the girls after the game that I usually had something to say, but I have nothing at this point. That’s why I just wanted to sit and watch them and soak up that moment.

Century West goaltender Serayah Leech makes a stop during a workout at Leopold Lake Park in Findlay Township earlier this month.

“All I could imagine in my head when the final whistle sounded was the celebration we had at the regional tournament two years ago by winning the penalty shoot-out,” said goalkeeper Serayah Leech. . “We were amazed then. This time, there were tears of joy in winning not only a game, but the national championship and reaching a goal we had set for ourselves. It’s just one of those times when you sit down and watch the process you had to go through to get here. It’s really amazing to see where we’ve come from and where we are now.

The Presidents Cup victory ended a difficult four-year run for the girls under Lantzy, who was previously the varsity coach at Blackhawk High School before taking over the club’s program, leading them to 78 wins in four short years. . Before determining how good they were, Lantzy recalls that the club struggled to field a team and were just happy to play together.

Then, in 2019, the Century West girls realized how good they were, qualifying for the Presidents Cup for the first time. The tournament, held in Tennessee, played a huge role in the U15 team reaching the mountaintop this year in Iowa.

Now, however, the goals are even more ambitious as the girls have come together to become one of the best club teams in the region, solidifying as a team to be reckoned with thanks to the National Championship banner. .

“We will be playing next year in U16, so the next step is really higher level tournaments,” Lantzy said. “There are a number of kids who want to play collegially, so we have to keep finding good competition. There is another level above that we are going to take. We want to continue to progress individually and as a team; I wouldn’t doubt these girls for a second.

In the four-day tournament, in addition to team success, members of Century West also enjoyed individual success, as Kamela Ward – a student-athlete from Oak Glen High School (WV) – won the Golden award. Boot of the tournament, scoring a record three goals, while Leech won the tournament’s Golden Glove award as the tournament’s best goalie.

In total, Century West saw three players named to the Presidents Cup’s Best XI first team, closing an impressive weekend for the club.

Century West U15 soccer team practice at Leopold Lake Park in Findlay Township earlier this month.

“It was really nice to win the Golden Shoe; I put a lot of work into it, ”said Ward. “Personally, winning individual prizes is nice. You see how much you’ve worked throughout the year, and you finally get this reward; it means a lot to me. “

Leech, a Moon Area high school student who has taken a big step forward as one of the best goalies in the state due to her aggressive net style, was instrumental in the three clean sheets that Century West made it to the tournament, leading to her individual crown as the Golden Glove winner.

“It was kind of a ‘wow’ moment, to be honest,” Leech said. “I watched the Olympic soccer games and thought the Golden Glove was huge for goalies. I thought it would take a lot of hard work just to see how hard these Olympians worked. I was a little in shock when they called out my name for the price; it didn’t hit me until an hour or two later on the way back. It was like, ‘wow, that just happened!’ “

Leech was quick to point out that she couldn’t have made all three sheets clean without the formidable back line in front of her, which played an aggressive but technically sound defensive tactic throughout the tournament, limiting traffic and l action in front of Leech.

“These girls have grown so much, especially in the local, regional and national chapters,” Leech said. “They are hard workers, they don’t give up and they always find a way to do their best even when they are tired. I can’t say enough about these girls.

Lantzy credits the defensive squad’s first team mentality, which quickly embraced the team defense philosophy that Lantzy implemented all those years ago.

“We generally defend very well,” Lantzy said. “Our bottom line – it doesn’t matter who’s in there – they all bought into the concept of team defense. They are all good individual defenders, and they all know where to be.

“They accepted this from the start,” Lantzy added. “There is always someone there to support you if you are beaten. Plus, they know there’s a really good goalie out there who comes off the line really quickly, who’s tall and aggressive. It’s a great unit.

With the National Championship in tow and a milestone as a group, Century West is now aiming for the U16 level, where the girls aim to win the State Championship next season under Lantzy, with the same group intact.

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