Pittsburgh LadyHounds U15 Soccer Club Wins Championship
As a proud sponsor of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Soccer Club at Highmark Stadium and all Riverhounds youth programs, we salute the great performance and dedication by the Pittsburgh LadyHounds under-15 girls soccer club. The LadyHounds team, dubbed the “pilot program,” concluded the year with a National Championship in Colorado. The championship is especially sweet for us as Eliza Cochran, daughter of Rob Cochran, was a member of the championship team. Congrats to Eliza and the LadyHounds for your well-deserved championship!
PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS PRESS RELEASE: Aurora, CO – Ending the game with ten players and a first-half fill-in central defender in the goal for the second half, the Under-15 RDA Lady Hounds lifted the Cup in Colorado, winning the US Club Soccer National Championship this weekend in the tournament’s highest Super Group bracket.
After going 1-1-1 through Group Play, the girls from Pittsburgh would earn a chance for redemption in the tournament’s finale, matching up against the team that surprised them just three days earlier, a 5-3 loss to West Coast Wild (CA). In that game, the Lady Hounds jumped out to a 2-0 lead before uncharacteristically allowing a few lapses to open the door for the Wild to capitalize and tilt the scales in their favor.
Advancing to the finals following a Saturday win over Gilbert Soccer Club Arizona Arsenal (AZ), the stage was set for the RDA girls to avenge their only tournament loss against the Wild. For a team that only experienced loss two times over the course of the entire year and only conceded a total of 5 goals through their Atlantic Soccer League championship campaign, the girls were eager to take to the field for Round 2 with the Wild, when the stakes were highest.
“The girls had to dig themselves out of a small hole that was created by the opening day loss,” commented Academy Director Scott Gibson. “As the weekend progressed, the girls got stronger and learned valuable lessons playing at such a high level.”
For the second year in a row, West Coast Wild stepped onto the field for a National Championship. For the second time against the Lady Hounds, the Wild would fall behind 0-2 in the opening minutes of the game, by way of two strikes from Mikayla Mance. But this time around against the Lady Hounds, the scales would not tilt back in favor of the Wild. Instead, for the second straight year, the Wild would fall in the finals – this time to the first-year team from Pittsburgh who was commonly referred to as a ‘pilot program’ just 11 months prior. It was another stellar tournament for the LadyHounds co-captain, Mance, who recorded a tournament-high 8-goals in 4 games to lead the team to victory.
“Coming out of a highly emotional win the day prior to get them into the National Championship game, the girls were ready mentally, tactically, and physically to fight for the Super Group title,” continued Gibson, who travelled to the event with Director of Sport Science, Mike Whiteman. “It took a complete squad effort and the feeling at the final whistle was one that everyone will remember for years to come – we couldn’t be prouder of EVERY player that contributed to the success of the Lady Hounds over the past year! We had to rely on the entire squad to get over the finish line and they all certainly answered the call!”
The Under-15 girls team was the first-ever full-time youth team sanctioned under the Pittsburgh Riverhounds for annual training and competition. In joining the program, the players and their families agreed to be led forward by a professional club that had never before operated youth teams. The decision by the girls to pursue a year-round commitment with the Riverhounds resulted in strong opposition and harsh criticism, locally, and made for a sensitive few months for the Club and players, alike. Entering the year with many more questions than answers, the group established a bond of trust and set a plan with one lofty but clearly defined goal: to become the best in the country.
The victory on Sunday was special for a variety of reasons, but namely the RDA team’s dogged response to the only adversity that mattered to them: on-the-field, competitive adversity. Heading into the game, the team had suffered a major blow when starting central defender, Eliza Cochran, was forced to the bench from a serious lower leg injury sustained in their critical Day 3 match against Gilbert Soccer Club. The injury bug bit again when the team’s other starting central defender, Brittany Palla, was forced from the game with concussion-like symptoms following a tough collision. Carrying a potent and deep lineup into the tournament, Head Coach Scott Gibson called upon Kaitlyn Snyder and Lauren Toth to anchor the back line in the absence of these two leaders. The two talented and fiery competitors stepped up and joined a very successful defensive unit of Jessica Moore and Carli Chiatto to do battle with a team which scored five times against the Riverhounds just days earlier.
In the 53rd minute, though, the adversity would enhance when Toth would be called upon for a much different role. As Goalkeeper Emma Bruno came out to close down an onrushing West Coast Wild striker, the ball would redirect off of Bruno’s hands just outside of the 18 yard box, leading the referee to go to his pocket for a red card. With the send-off, the Lady Hounds would have to play short-handed for the duration of the game and Toth would have to suit up for the team as a stand-in goalkeeper. For the girls who have trained four to five times per week for nearly eight straight months, it was clear that nothing had changed.
Gibson would make key strategic changes to the formation. Toth would come up with an amazing diving save. Cochran would demand a return to the field despite severe pain and would ensure the team did not break form. Fitness would never be a concern. The team would close out the biggest game of their young but inspiring careers, as National Champions.
The Lady Hounds ended their year with a record of 18-2-5, taking titles at the Bethesda Thanksgiving Shootout (MD) in November, Triangle Friendlies (NC) in January, Ultimate Cup (VA) in March, Crossroads of America College Showcase (IN) in April, Atlantic Soccer League Regular Season Champions in May, Atlantic Soccer League Championships (NC) in June, and the US Club Soccer National Super Group Championships in Aurora, Colorado.
“The Club is very proud of these girls,” commented Jason Kutney following the Riverhounds professional team’s victory over the Wilmington Hammerheads on Sunday afternoon.
“The pros were all asking about the girls over the course of the weekend. This is a family that has come together through the game of soccer and a commitment to play that game the right way. When we say ‘Experience Riverhounds Soccer’ we want that to mean nothing less than ‘Experience The Best’. This may have been a pilot program, but the plane flew impressively high.”
2012-2013 US Club National Champions – U15 Girls Super Group – Pittsburgh Riverhounds
1) Emma Bruno (GK)
2) Carli Chiatto [C]
3) Brittany Palla
4) Eliza Cochran
5) Jessica Moore
6) Kaitlyn Snyder
7) Micayla Livingston
8) Kylie Manupelli
9) Maddi Santo
10) Mikayla Mance [C]
11) Shawna Zaken
12) Jayna Fittipaldo
13) Leah Memmo
14) Lauren Toth
15) Katie Banbury
16) Megan Herr
17) Morgan Treser
18) Ciara Terabasso
19) Maggie Coulson [C]
Player not in Colorado who contributed to the team throughout the year: – Olivia Cotter, Nicolette Casarcia, Julianna Sandford, Megan Aller, Elaina Walnoah, Marisa Dezorzi, Amanda Kalin, Ashlyn Whipple