Although she led the Santa Clarita Christian School girls soccer team in scoring with 34 goals last season, Sydney Boswell admits she wasn’t too confident when her Real So Cal-SCV Girls 2003 coach advised her to try out for a travel team based in Orange County.
The team, So Cal Select, travels all over the world competing against girls soccer teams from myriad countries and was taking part in the Iber Cup Tournament in Estoril, Portugal.
“When I first got the email to try out from my coach, I didn’t think I would make the team,” Boswell said. “My expectations were kind of high.”
Two tryouts in December later, Boswell got word that she had been selected to the 16 and under team. The trip would last three weeks, June 24 to July 13, and the team would visit countries like Ireland, Italy, Portugal and England.
The day after arriving in Dublin, Ireland, So Cal Select played a friendly against Shelbourne LFC, winning 5-4 despite the girls being jet-lagged from the 10-plus hour flight from California to Ireland.
“I mean we were pretty tired from the flight,” Boswell said. “It was more of exhaustion but we all wanted to play. Exhaustion started to set in in the second half, but we stuck with it and we played well under the circumstances we were in.
“That win set the tone for the rest of the trip.”
On to Italy
After a couple days off, the team was off to Italy, where they went on to play two friendlies against a team from Lavagna, Italy, beating them 7-0 and AC Roma of Rome, beating them 6-4.
“It was pretty crazy,” Boswell said. “We were really exhausted from playing, but we were still super excited to see what their skill set was. “Going into each game we expected it to be hard so we didn’t let up at all.”
Winning the first three games in Europe, the girls felt confident heading into the main reason that they traveled to Europe, the Iber Cup Tournament.
There were 80 different countries represented in the tournament with So Cal Select being one representative from the United States.
The team was in awe as they walked into the stadium behind the United States of America’s flag during the opening ceremonies.
“It felt amazing representing this great country of ours,” Boswell said. “It felt great knowing that they supported us.”
Being treated like celebrities, fans kept wanting to take pictures and meet the girls. A boy from China even gave Boswell a knot as a gift. The offering turned out to be a Chinese knot that signified good luck.
Strong French team
Facing off against a strong French team that touted four French National Players in the first match, So Cal Select fell 7-2.
“We had been winning all of our games so we didn’t really know what to expect,” Boswell said. “A lot of them were double our size. They were very aggressive and very quick.”
Dropping their second game in the tournament to the top-ranked Portugal team, 2-0, the girls knew something had to change.
“We knew that we were going to give it all for the next game,” Boswell said. “We took it as an opportunity to motivate us to push through and win our next game.”
With their tournament hopes on the line, the girls delivered and defeated another Portuguese team 7-1 to advance to the playoffs.
In the quarterfinals, So Cal Select met another US team from Connecticut and blanked them 4-0.
Awaiting them in the semifinals was that same French team that beat them in the first game of the tournament.
Switching up tactics, So Cal Select played this game smarter and more tactical, knowing what they were in for against a very good French team.
“The first game we attacked and got exhausted,” Boswell said. “This time we laid back and let them do their thing and then counter-attacked and exploited their weakness through the middle and outside.”
The game went down to the wire, with So Cal Select coming up just short, falling 1-0 and ending their tournament.
Boswell finished with three goals and five assists in the Iber Cup Tournament.
“I felt good with how we competed,” Boswell said. “We played great as a team and we gave a 100 percent effort and we felt accomplished with the outcome. We weren’t afraid and we weren’t deterred to give them our best.”
To round out their trip, So Cal Select flew to London, England where they had one more friendly against AFC Wimbledon, defeating them 8-2.
The team even got to experience European futbol fanaticism with England beating Sweden 2-0 in the 2018 World Cup Quarterfinals.
“It was crazy,” Boswell said. “Huge crowds gathering on the streets chanting. Everyone was celebrating and it was a great atmosphere to be in.”
Being one of the youngest girls on the team, Boswell carried a chip on her shoulder and played with more aggression and speed so she could showcase just how equipped she was to compete with older and bigger girls.
Going into her sophomore year at SCCS, Boswell’s future seems bright as she has just skimmed the surface of what could be an amazing athletic career.
”No matter the end result, what matters is the effort that you put in out on the field and how you set yourself up going into the next game.”