It was anything but a vacation for the Riverhounds Development Academy in San Diego, but the 2003 Girls still brought home one impressive souvenir.
The 03 Girls returned home as champions of the ECNL Showcase Cup, winning four matches in five days to be the last team standing after beginning as the No. 6 seed in the 16-team, single-elimination bracket. It was never easy, as the team won its first three games by one goal before finding themselves on their heels to begin the championship game against Vardar SC (Mich.). But Sarah Schupansky scored on a counter-attack to give the RDA a halftime lead, and the Hounds settled in after half to win 3-0 behind a left-footed strike by Tatum Gretz from 25 yards away and a game-sealing penalty kick by Sydney Lindeman.
"This is a very special group of players who bought in fully to the accountability and discipline necessary to compete at the highest levels of the youth game. They have done so without ever sacrificing their style of play," 03 Girls coach Jason Kutney said. "The players and parents represent our club and city with class, and they earned this title as one unified force."
Anna Durmis finished with a team-best three goals in the tournament for the 03 Girls, who on the path to the final beat Arsenal SC (Ariz.), 3-2; Bethesda SC (Md.), 1-0; and the Boise Thorns (Idaho), 3-2. The victory is the first ECNL national event won by a Hounds team since the RDA began play in the league in 2017, and it should provide momentum going into next season for an 03 Girls team that finished 6-4-6 in Ohio Valley Conference matches to qualify for the Showcase Cup.
The RDA's 02 Girls also showed well in San Diego, knocking off Farmington Sports Arena FC (Conn.), 3-2, and Players Development Academy (N.J.), 2-1, in their first two Showcase Cup matches. Their road ended in the semifinals with a 3-1 loss to Florida's Tampa Bay United.
As the youth season winds down, continue to visit the RDA Live Results page for the latest news and scores.