U16 Girls Champions League Preview
It would seem to be a massive upset if any team other than the 9-0-0 Davis Legacy won this division’s Champions League, until one looks at the almost-as-good 9-0-1 record of Force. Both sides dominated their respective Fall divisions, making their Champions League match-up a must-watch for neutrals, especially those interested in getting a glimpse of the future of Division-I women’s soccer.
AJAX UNITED GREEN
Head Coach: Aklesh Singh
Catch Ajax United Green on the wrong day, and you may be out of luck, no matter how well you play. In different instances in the Fall season, Ajax erupted for seven, four, and three goals. To compete for the Champions League title, though, Ajax will have to become more consistent, as they were shutout in four of their nine games as well. Ajax will look to leading scorer Jessica McNair and leading assister Alison Gallant to help the attack reach such lofty heights on a more regular basis.
DAVIS LEGACY RED
Head Coach: David Robertson
One of the most talented squads in the Champions League , featuring US youth international Maya Doms, who, along with Paige Rubenstein, are committed to play college ball at Stanford. Davis’ frontline is led by center forward Chella Grattet, who helped the Legacy score 32 goals in just nine matches, while a defense anchored by Ruthie Mitchell and Yasi Demeri allowed just six strikes.
Head Coach: Scott Alexander
Perhaps no player for Diablo FC was as important as State PDP goalkeeper Cassia Souza, who helped her squad allow just 11 goals in nine matches, allowing Diablo to qualify for the Champions League despite scoring the same amount. Should joint-leading goalscorer Julia Hagerdorn and central midfielder Fiona Valldillez continue their quality seasons, expect Diablo to cause a few upsets this Spring.
Head Coach: Andres Deza
Behind US youth international Sophie Jones and Cal Poly-committed attacking outside back Kylie Rojas, Force nearly swept the NPL 1 West with a 9-0-1 record. Part of Force’s success came through their defense, which conceded just six times in 10 matches and included a league-leading six shutouts.
Head Coach: Mohamed Mohamed
One of the strongest attacking sides in the U-16 NPL Fall season, Lamorinda just missed out on securing a second place finish in the NPL 1 East, losing out on goal differential to Pleasanton Rage. Lamorinda will have the chance to get revenge against the Rage in the Champions League, and maybe even contend for the title, should Jordan Gourlarte, Margaux Clarke, and Sasha Sadoff (combined 15 goals) continue their fine form. Sadoff will be a player to watch, as her six assists lead all U-16 NPL players.
MARIN FC BLUE
Head Coach: Rob Funes
The three-pronged attack of State PDP Player Callie Jones, Grace Bouton, and Erin Brown combined for 12 goals to help Marin FC to a 5-1-4 record that was good for second place in the NPL 1 West. Though Marin only scored four other times in NPL play, their record of just eight goals allowed gave them the second best defensive record during the Fall season.
Head Coach: Walter Pratte
If Pleasanton Rage are to challenge for the Champions League title, they’ll need the strong play of center back partnership Payton Raun and Megan Vlcek to continue its fine form. With those two rocks at the back, the Rage allowed just six goals — tied for the best in the NPL 1 East with Davis Legacy — on their way to a second place finish.
SF ELITE ACADEMY
Head Coach: Jeff Wilson
SF Elite will have no problem playing the underdog role in this Champions League division, with their 4-4-2 record and minus-two goal differential among the lowest of the qualifiers. But they won’t be here if they couldn’t hang with the rest of the teams, with a draw against second place Marin, and a narrow 1-0 loss to league-winners Force serving as evidence.