Santa Barbara United, an under-13 girls soccer team, left for the Norway Cup tournament in July as the only American team, and returned as the champions of their age bracket. “Our goal was to make it to the championship game,” said coach Dave Goss, who expressed how exhilarating it was to not only win the entire tournament, but to have had a shutout with a final cumulative score of 22-0. “It was an amazing feat that the girls accomplished,” he said, crediting ‘team effort” for the brilliant success.
For forward Michelle Goss, this victory was made even sweeter as she was honored as the tournament’s MVP, having scored eight goals in seven games. She never expected to be chosen as MVP, nor did she think they’d make it to the championships. “I thought we wouldn’t place,” she admitted.
In addition to the offensive strength that Michelle and her fellow forwards Tianna Bonn, Erin Graf, and Adaezia Hill provided, the Santa Barbara United’s defense was rock solid, composed of midfielder’s Katarina Rocha, Une Solheim, Jordan Corry, Gabrielle Goss, and Sydney Read, as well as the defensive line of Caroline Vance, Natalee Yamasaki, Amber Holland, and Megan Grajeda.
Goalie Hannah Ball proved to be undefeatable. “We felt so comfortable with them in the back,” said coach Goss of the defense, attributing the team’s ability to have ball possession 80 percent of the time to this strong foundation.
The 12-day trip included “a lot more than just soccer,” according to Goss, who explained that the girls also spent several days in home-stays in Lillehammer, Norway, and experienced cultural exchanges with several groups of girls from around the world. In addition to the tournament games, the team played scrimmages with teams from Zimbabwe and Kenya.
When it came to playing teams from other countries, player Adaezia Hill said, “It was weird to hear them communicating,” pointing out that “sometimes with American teams, you can hear the coaching” and anticipate what the team is planning to do. Ultimately for Hill, the outcome was a little surprising. “I didn’t realize what a good team we had,” she said. But in the end, having stayed and played together for the 12 days, at least “I think we go to know each other a little more,” reflected Hill.