RDA U15 Girls Open ASL Campaign in Dominating Fashion
Team nets 15 goals over 3 games, Sits atop ASL table

Bethesda Thanksgiving Tournament - U15 Girls ASL Champions


November 11, 2012, Bethesda, MD – The Riverhounds Development Academy (RDA) Under-15 Girls won all three of its fixtures at the 29th Annual 2012 Thanksgiving Bethesda Tournament this weekend, positioning themselves in first place in the Atlantic Soccer League (ASL) to start the 2012-2013 campaign.  The RDA group, who was welcomed into the prestigious 16-team ASL as a ‘guest team’ for the upcoming year, performed wonderfully over the course of the three days, holding possession for large parts of their games and conceding very few shots against formidable opponents. 

On Friday afternoon, the Lady Hounds kicked off the ASL season against intra-state opponent PA Classics.  Led by nationally-recognized head coach, Bob Lilley (Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps, Rochester Rhinos), Classics proved to be a very disciplined team capable of applying high-pressure on the RDA backline throughout the early stages of the game.  The Lady Hounds would eventually settle into the event, through their continued efforts to connect passes through the midfield, and eventually broke down the Classics middle and defensive thirds. 

In trademark fashion, the RDA group played confidently out of their back.  Goalkeeper Emma Bruno demonstrated class on the ball, with consistent distribution to her backline.  Eventually, this movement stretched PA Classics both laterally and vertically, opening the door for the RDA’s offensive weapons to take over.  Opening the scoring books quickly, striker Mikayla Mance was slotted through neatly by her partner-in-attack, Jayna Fittipaldo, and calmly buried the tournament opener to put the Lady Hounds ahead for good. 

Through a combination of dynamic runs and dangerous service, Micayla Livingston continued to apply pressure throughout the match.  Coupled with a sound performance from the back four and central leadership from Maggie Coulson, the RDA girls would add three insurance goals, closing out Day 1 with a 4-1 victory. 

Said RDA trainer Jason Kutney, the girls did enough to win but certainly learned a valuable lesson in conceding a goal –

“Overall, we got a deserved result, but the coaches and players were not satisfied by giving up a very avoidable goal,” said Kutney following the game.  “This goal was the result of a mental lapse and we will work to address that in training.  We’ll be a better team because of that goal.”

With lots of time to prepare for a Saturday night matchup under the lights against the LDC Harrisburg City Islanders, the RDA Staff used the morning hours to put the girls through an exercise session with Director of Sport Science, Mike Whiteman, focusing upon General Physical Preparedness, followed by a classroom session to reflect upon the positives and negatives of Friday’s game.  Coming out of the morning and with quality rest in the afternoon, the girls arrived at the Germantown Sports Complex ready to go on Saturday evening.

The evening matchup was critical for several reasons, as the Lady Hounds were looking to build upon their good start while also being welcomed into the Keystone Derby – an often-heated, intra-state rivalry between the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Harrisburg City Islanders professional teams each year in the USL Pro.  The RDA coaches made sure the girls were well aware of the significance of the matchup prior to kickoff. 

With explosive performances from Mikayla Mance and Kylie Manuppelli, and sturdy defensive abilities from central defenders, Brittany Palla and Eliza Cochran, the Lady Hounds responded to Saturday’s preparations with seven goals.  The evening did see central midfielder, Maggie Coulson, reaggrevate an injury, forcing her from the game in the first half, despite early brilliance in the holding role.  Stepping into a fast-paced match on a slick surface, Leah Memmo worked to find her touch and eventually settled into the position, connecting passes throughout the middle third.  A terrific second half from Memmo and the team closed the day in great fashion, with a 7-1 win over the City Islanders.

According to Head Coach, Scott Gibson, the girls improved upon Friday and were now set to focus upon finishing the event properly –

“The performance and result in the first game set the tone for rest of the weekend. We were happy with the start but knew we had areas to improve.  After tweaking these tactical areas prior to the Saturday game, the girls were much more confident against the Islanders and put in an extremely strong performance.”

With just 12 hours between Saturday evening’s game and their final fixture of the Bethesda Tournament on Sunday morning, the RDA squad showed maturity and demonstrated top physical preparedness in the turnaround. 

According to Kutney, though, this was merely consistent with their message over the weekend –

“While we recognize that winning is not the most important thing, as a group we reinforce that the preparation for winning every game is what defines our program,” said Kutney.  “The girls entered each match in the proper form, and were physically, mentally, technically, and tactically ready to win.  Each game was 70 minutes to show this and we take the opportunity very seriously.”

The final day of games was a beauty, the third sunny day in a row for the girls with bright futures ahead.  Representing Pittsburgh well in a battle against Delaware’s top team, DE Nike Crush, the Lady Hounds came out of the gates flying, notching two quick goals from the feet of Mance.  Through excellent buildup and physical challenges in the middle third of play, outside back Carli Chiatto saved her best performance for the last day of competition.  Connecting well on the right side with Micayla Livingston and Jayna Fittipaldo, Chiatto was able to keep the flow of play going following key tackles, something the RDA Staff has focused heavily upon in recent training sessions. 

“The third game of the tournament was much more physical than the two prior. DE Nike Crush pressed very high and put the girls in tight situations consistently," said Gibson. “The girls countered this with their technical strengths, composure on the ball, and overall speed of play. We were very pleased with the reaction of the team after a quick turnaround from the evening before.”

Midfielder Shawna Zaken, asked to play in a variety of roles for the Hounds all weekend, was pure class in the central midfield on Sunday. With Coulson out of the lineup, Zaken stepped up and was highly effective in cleaning up second-balls and powering through the midfield as the playmaker. 

With a long string of passes connected in the second half, the ball would eventually fall to the feet of Mance.  Looking to complete her second hat trick in as many days, the team’s top goal scorer would carve her way through the penalty box before being taken down from behind, earning a penalty kick.  Stepping up to the spot, Mance tucked the ball away cleanly and earned a much-deserved substitution out of the game for her exemplary efforts, highlighted by a tournament leading 8 goals. Following a conceded goal, wide midfielder Kylie Manuppelli would add her third goal of the event with a beautiful right footed swerving shot, bent around an oncoming Nike Crush goalkeeper.   The goal would seal the game, ending 4-1 for the Lady Hounds.

The start to the 2012-2013 ASL season proved very encouraging for the RDA program, through key contributions from all players who made the trip.  Displaying depth throughout the weekend, the Staff went to the bench often, helping several ‘developmental’ players gain valuable experience, showcasing their abilities and desire to gain increased minutes on the field.  The confidence in the entire group was high, thus adding to a fun, bonding experience for a team on the rise.    

The RDA Girls now prepare for an upcoming set of friendlies with ECNL side, Cleveland Internationals on Saturday, November 24 at Pinnacle Sports Complex in Medina, Ohio.  This will mark the RDA program’s second trip to Cleveland, last travelling west in 2011 for a four-game event that included the top Lady Hounds between the ages of 10 and 13.  With four stellar performances and well-deserved wins in 2011, the RDA Staff is working to prepare its U13/14 and U15 teams to build upon the success in what will prove to be a very competitive day of friendly games.



# Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds Development Academy (PAW) 3 3 0 0 15 3 9
2 NJSA 04 Highland Fusion (NJ) 3 2 1 0 8 1 7
3 Baltimore Bays Chelsea ’98 (MD) 2 2 0 0 6 0 6
4 Soca Storm (VA) 2 2 0 0 4 1 6
5 Southwestern YA Cardinals ’97 Red (VA) 3 2 0 1 4 2 6
6 Southern SSA Chelsea 98G Elite (GA) 3 2 0 1 11 3 6
7 South Jersey Elite Barons ’97 (NJ) 2 1 1 0 2 0 4
8 DE Rush Nike Clash (DE) 3 1 1 1 2 4 4
9 PA Classics Academy 97 (PAE) 3 1 1 1 6 5 4
10 Roanoke Star U15 Girls (VA) 3 1 0 2 1 2 3
11 FC Fredrick ’97 (MD) 3 1 0 2 1 5 3
12 DC Stoddert DCST DC Metros Blue 97 (VA) 3 1 0 2 2 7 3
13 Soccer of Columbia SAC United 1 (MD) 2 0 0 2 0 2 0
14 Beach FC 97 Girls Beach FC U15 Red 2 0 0 2 0 3 0
15 Bethesda SC Fusion (Formerly Azul) 2 0 0 2 0 12 0
16 LDC City Islanders (PAE) 3 0 0 3 2 14 0