After coming up short in the final as an Under-14 side in 2012, Tennessee SC 16 (TN) produced a memorable ending with a 3-0 victory over Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) to win the Under-18 Girls National Championship.
A strong push at the end of the first half helped Tennessee grab an advantage. Peyton DePriest was taken down inside the Carlsbad box, resulting in a penalty kick for Tennessee and a red card for the Cal South side. The Carlsbad keeper guessed the right way on the ensuing penalty kick attempt and pushed the shot aside to keep the game scoreless. But just minutes later, U.S. Youth National Team midfielder Karlie Paschall slipped a pass to Juliette Garst, who slid her shot inside the left post to put Tennessee in front.
In the 60th minute, Paschall recorded her second assist when she sent a corner kick to the back post, where Callie McKinney headed it home. Tennessee sealed the victory in the 90th minute, as Mackenzie Firek finished a low cross right in front of goal to help Tennessee to the 3-0 victory.
“Starting with our State Cup, going into Regionals, going into Nationals — every game was a challenge,” Tennessee head coach Ronnie Woodard. “It’s a true credit to every team that we went up against. I’m incredibly proud of my girls and the effort and focus that they had throughout the entire tournament. For them to go out on top as a National Champion — I’m just at a loss for words.”
This marks the first ever D1 National Championship for the state of TN in competitive soccer. “A huge congratulations are in order to Coach Ronnie Woodard and her players for fighting their way through a very difficult field and coming out on top,” said TSSA Executive Director Hans Hobson. “Winning championships at any level is extremely difficult, and to say you are a National Champion is something these players will remember the rest of their lives. We will proudly display memorabilia of this group in the TSSA office as they will undoubtedly go down in history.”
The U-14 TSC Girls, coached by Deni Ismailovic, who were National League Champions, came up just short as they fell 2-1 in overtime in the National Semi-Finals to the Michigan Gators. “We had great competition in Tennessee in the U-14 age group, and for Deni’s team to represent themselves, their club, and our state was no surprise to any of us that saw them play this year,” said Hobson. “They are an outstanding group of young women and Deni’s a fantastic coach. Congrats to that entire group of players and families on a tremendous run.”
These are two of the biggest accomplishments to date in Tennessee Soccer history. Congrats to all involved in what was an outstanding journey throughout this entire summer.