For the two weeks leading up to the Cal South State Cup Presidents Division Final, Anaheim Surf Coach Brent Whitfield was working on defending with his group of 2006 girls. After sliding through the group phase with three consecutive wins over major clubs like So Cal Blues, San Diego SC and Beach FC, he knew that the knockout phase would be a lot more challenging.
And so it was. Once Anaheim Surf landed in the knockout round, they would go up against strong teams like Strikers FC, LA Galaxy South Bay, Legends FC, and finally, the San Diego Surf. All knockout games, as well as the championship game where the Orange County team defeated their San Diego affiliates 1-0, were challenging, no blowout games, no easy opponent.
“One half, everyone was attacking, second half, everyone was defending,” coach Whitfield said following the final championship match. “We were fortunate to get a goal in the first half and kind of just held our own in the second half, defending.
“For me, we’ve been kind of one-and-two with San Diego Surf the entire year. It was a long journey, back and forth with each other. They beat us, we beat them. To end the season, on a high note, it’s the biggest accomplishment for my team, my parents, the club. Very proud of all my girls and all the support I’ve had from the parents,” he added.
Game-in and game-out, through every training, the girls put all their heart and soul in order to get their team to where they are today. Sure, the girls are talented at what they do and practice makes perfect, but aside from training, the girls must click together, and that was the boost that coach Whitfield believes made them State Cup Champions.
“Just the camaraderie; they hang out together, team bonding, the parents are really close,” he said. “The more they’re together, I think it provides more togetherness with the group and it’s like they’re all sisters, all 13 of my kids. They’re always together and there’s a bond. Hopefully we can stick together and keep moving forward.”