The match between LNYSA Wildfire and IE Surf that took place on Sunday afternoon at Galway Downs as part of Cal South’s State Cup Mayors Girls 2008 Division Final was not for the faint-hearted.

The Laguna Niguel-based club started off by taking an early lead, however, the Surf would come back strong and equalize the game before the end of regulation time. After a balanced overtime, there was no clear winner decided as of yet, leading to the penalty kicks that had to decide the ultimate champion. And after the seventh kick, coach Ryan Ruggerello’s team would come out on top.

“We went to PKs, which for 8 and 9-year-old girls, had to be probably their first experience, especially in a very competitive game like that,” the LNYSA coach said. “It was nothing short of a storybook ending, there’s no question.

“For me, I put in a lot of work into the team, and I really care about the girls and their families. To see them happy and for them to achieve the success means a lot to me, but ultimately, they’re the ones that achieved it as the players and they deserve all the credit,” Ruggerello added.

Ruggerello, on his second State Cup Championship, might’ve worked his magic to get his girls prepared for the tournament. But he mainly credits the players and their families’ attitudes and dedication to the game that helped in LNYSA’s latest success in the Cal South State Cup.

“Obviously, to play competitive sports they need to have a competitive edge, and then train,” Ruggerello said. “If you’ve got those things and they’re smart players, with good attitudes, then they can achieve anything. And that’s what they did. The amount of growth in a short period of time was incredible. Everyone committed to the process. The process, if you do it right, can produce amazing results.”

Cal South State Cup Finals - Feb. 26