15G Select Hit the Denver Cup
The group would reside in the house with a parent chaperone and three Rush Role Models (Jordan DiBiasi, Betsy Brandon and Janessa Fowler from the GU18 ECNL team who won a National Championship in 2012.
To have Jordan, Betsy and Janessa around the girls 24 hours a day was something special. Both Jordan and Betsy have played for their country at the Youth level and are ranked among the top midfielders in the entire country. They also have played for the Rush Select National teams at PDT in Phoenix, AZ so they understand the challenges and experiences these players will have during their time away from home. The girls also got to meet and hangout with PSG star Lindsey Horan, who was getting some last minute finishing in before flying to Canada the next day for the U20 World Cup. Lindsey hung around to watch the game, talk to the girl and take few photos, which was a nice surprise for these players ” - Russell Finch, Head Coach
The team entered the house on July 28th with many new faces, most not knowing one another and left on August 4th the best of teammates and with newly acquired friendships. Titan created an environment where there are no hotel wake up calls, mom and dad are not 2 floors away in another room, no meals prepared for you by hotel staff or the hustle and bustle of the city. It is far from that, as the house sits on nearly 60 acres of prime real estate pushed up against the mountains where one can focus on anything they want. The players had house chores and this responsibility would help build their character and create life lessons that aren’t available on most soccer trips.
“I had the experience of a life time that I will never forget at the Rush Titan house. This facility helped us feel more relaxed than we would have been in a hotel. We showed unity, enjoyment and passion for the game on the field by where we slept at night off the field” – Kendyl Hedberg (WA Rush)
The team spent much of their time relating their experiences to the 11 Rush Core Values, such as their house chores (Accountability), helping train the Colorado Rush Girls U9 and U10 teams (Humility) and singing the Rush Chants wherever they would go (Passion).
The U15 Select National team came in early to acclimate to the high altitudes since many of the players live at sea level, where as Denver is 5,280 feet above. The preparation included 3 games against the GU14 Rush, 2013 Regional Champions (tied 1-1), the GU15 ECNL (won 1-0) and the GU15 Nero (game cancelled due to a storm) as well as both training and classroom sessions. Each time the teams played they shared a meal together afterwards, getting to know one another and talking soccer.
The team opened the tournament with two games Friday, a 5-1 win over Colorado United (CO) and a 11-0 win over South Lake Cosmo’s (OK), who were not prepared for the GU15’s speed of play, talent or their desire to always attack. Only needing a tie in their last game the team met a determined and hardworking Rush Nero (CO) team, where an early goal for Rush Select was the deciding factor, taking them into the final. They would face the Colorado Rush GU15 ECNL, a team they had managed to beat four days before, but as you know, not one game is the same as another. That evening the team went and spent more time bonding by watching the Colorado Rapids take on Real Salt Lake in the Dicks Sporting Goods Park stadium.
On Sunday the girls attempted to make this week perfect by remaining undefeated in all games and bringing home their third championship trophy (Open Cup, AL, Desert Classic, AZ) in two years. The first half was dominated by the Colorado Rush ECNL, who found themselves up 2-0 by the time the halftime whistle blew.
The half time talk, led by head coach Russell Finch, was not one filled with tactics, or criticism, but motivation, a way to pull out the very best from players that had more to give and owed it to their teammates. The Rush Select team came out a new team, dominating possession, moving the ball quickly and creating many goal scoring opportunities. Within the first 10 minutes Kailin Wiley had hit the bar three times and forced ECNL keeper Mia Raben into two good saves. With time winding down Finch decided to change the system of play to a 2-1-3-4 and although they would be vulnerable in the back, they had to continue to put the ECNL girls under even more pressure. Within 5 minutes, Wiley (WA Rush) found herself wide open on the right hand side with only 2 defenders to beat. With her extraordinary pace and skill she cut and weaved her way into the box and smashed the ball into the bottom far corner to give the Rush Select team a lifeline. With only 10 minutes remaining and the Select team creating chance after chance, found themselves awarded a penalty for a late challenge from behind. Annika Dalhmann (MI) stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the corner to make it 2-2 and the comeback was complete. Rush Select went on to create a couple more chances before conceding a corner in the last minute of the game. With two failed clearances the ball popped up to Colorado’s Nadia Morris, a current Rush Select player, who blasted a 25 yard volley into the top corner to give the CO Rush ECNL a last minute victory and leave Select with a heartbreaking defeat.
“The game was certainly a story of two halves. We [Rush Select] were too complacent with very little energy in the first half and they [CO ECNL] were fantastic in their movement and the pressure they put us under when in possession. The second half was a complete turnaround and if not for the bar and Kailin getting a little more over the ball, we could have had 5-6 goals and won the game. Credit to the ECNL girls, they have come such a long way and certainly deserved the win with a wonderful strike by Nadia, who 6 months ago was captaining this select team to a championship win in Phoenix, AZ.” – Russell Finch, Head Coach
The girls collected their medals, said a few goodbyes to those players leaving with their parents and headed back to the Titan house for a BBQ which saw Rush soccer’s CEO Tim Schulz wearing a cooking apron and grilling 200 burgers and hotdogs for the girls, as well as Peru Rush, Honduras Rush and Mexico Rush, who had all flown in to compete in Denver Cup. This was a great way to wrap up what had been a very memorable week for the girls!