Seong Ha will only have one season coaching the FC United U-17 Select girls soccer team, but it was a memorable one.
“After we scored a goal in the 90th minute of a [match], I nicknamed them ‘The Cardiac Kids,’ ” said Ha, who also is the Glenbrook South girls varsity coach. “The quality of this team was very high. It was [special] to have a year with them.”
The U-17 girls realized a major goal by qualifying for the Region II (Midwest) Championships in Beavercreek, Ohio, last week. FC United dominated its pool at the tournament, winning its first three matches by a combined score of 9-1. In the semifinal match, the team dropped a 4-0 decision to the Metro Dynamos out of Kansas City. The Metro Dynamos fell to the Naperville-based NSA Jaguars, 4-2, in the championship match.
The FC United team was comprised of players from eight different high schools: New Trier, Glenbrook South, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Loyola, Francis Parker School, Niles North and Evanston.
“Making the region tournament was a big accomplishment for us this year,” said midfielder Carly Hoke, who will be a senior at Lake Forest.
Hoke set the tone for the team in each practice and match.
“Everything goes through Carly,” Ha said. “I don’t know how after playing for an hour and a half she’s still defending and getting into the offensive third. Her work rate for 90 minutes is just unbelievable.”
Ha will get no argument from Hoke’s teammates.
“She’s relentless,” said Kaily Bruch, who will be a senior at Glenbrook South and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory in the final match of pool play. “I don’t understand how she never gets tired. She throws her body around and gives 100 percent. It’s inspiring for the rest of the team.”
Throughout the tournament, Grace Quirk, who will be a senior at Highland Park, was exceptional in goal.
“She was standing on her head,” Ha said. “She commands the box and is a great communicator. She has good geometry to the ball and knows how to cut off angles.”
Unlike some of the clubs they were competing against, the vast majority of FC United’s U-17 girls played for their high schools. As a result, they only had about 10 days to prepare for the Region II tournament following the conclusion of the high school season.
“I like playing club and for my high school,” Hoke said. “It’s fun to play with your friends and represent your school.”
Added Ha, “It’s a win-win and it’s great to recognize the achievements of the girls in both arenas. It’s neat how they can represent their community, high school and also the club.”
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