By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Local youth girls’ soccer club team, LAFC SCV G2004, is heading to the National Premier League Championships in Colorado.
After a long season, dating back to last fall, the girls will have their chance to represent Southern California on the biggest stage.
The team features some of the best high school players in the Santa Clarita Valley, coached by former Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch.
Foothill League stars like league MVP Maggie Yoshioka of Hart alongside first-teamers Emily Guluzza, Natalia Zuluaga-Ramirez, Lauren Benz, Alyssa Edwards, Emily DiSilverio and Summer Hahn lead the team.
With so much talent it’s no wonder the team totaled 30 wins on the season, including an undefeated Discovery Division record of 13-0-1. Six of their league wins came by three or more goals.
The team proved they could score but were known as defensive juggernauts in the NPL, allowing just four goals in 14 league games. The team registered an unprecedented eight straight clean sheets.
Mitrovitch’s team’s impressive record and scores earned them a No. 2 seed heading into Nationals.
The LAFC club has had many highlights this year, from going undefeated in league play to winning their second straight Surf Cup in San Diego over Thanksgiving weekend.
“I always knew this team had a lot of potential,” said Mitrovitch. “[They] had a great coach before. With the commitment the girls had, I knew we could do really well.”
The girls played hard over the Thanksgiving break in San Diego, competing in the most anticipated tournament of the club season.
The team developed somewhat of a rivalry with the Rebels club, the only team in the NPL who blanked and tied LAFC.
The two would have identical records in league play, with the Rebels also allowing just four goals on the year.
The clubs would get another chance at each other in the NPL semifinals, where both teams were again pushed past full and extra time scoreless. This time, LAFC would have the chance to win and Mitrovitch’s team prevailed in penalties after keeper Grace Cashman stopped two balls. The team then emerged victorious and they were crowned champions after beating the SoCal Blues 1-0 in the championship game.
West Ranch girls’ soccer head coach Jared White also serves as the club’s assistant director and has seen some of these players grow in the club for years.
“A large percentage of these players have been with our club for five-plus years,” said White, ”which, as a coach and director, we have a lot of pride in. Their loyalty to our club and trust in our coaching staff has been an incredible part of their development.”
The team’s total focus has shifted to Nationals as they see yet another mountain to climb in front of them. However, this team has beaten nearly everyone in their path and this tournament will be a true testament to how strong this team is.
“Coach G reminds us we’re preparing for Nationals,” said Yoshioka. “Everyone’s locked into that goal. There’s going to be a lot of amazing teams, so it’s going to be a test of all our hard work.”
“We are the longest-standing club, by far, in Santa Clarita, and have had some amazing teams/players over the past 25-plus years,” said White. “But to have a team, in this age group and most competitive bracket, with a chance to play for a national championship, has to be the peak for us as a club, them as a team, and individually as a player.”
The players all spoke very highly of each other and said their bonds on the team are stronger than most other teams they’ve been part of.
“Our team, everyone clicks together perfectly,” said Edwards. “We’ve never really had problems. We all want to see each other succeed and it’s a really positive environment.”
Although practices and hangouts are full of laughs, this team works as hard as anyone and takes away valuable lessons on and off the field.
“Club has taught me a lot about hard work and commitment,” said Yoshioka. “I’ve been doing soccer since I was very young. It’s been a consistent place I can go, where I can go and relieve stress.”
LAFC SCV heads to Nationals on July 5 with games slated to start on July 7.
The girls have finished their high school seasons and even though many will play collegiately, they can go out one last time as a club and play.
No matter the outcome, Mitrovitch is proud of his team and hopes they enjoy the experience.
“We just want to end on a good note and really enjoy the ride,” said Mitrovitch. “We want to represent [the SCV] well in Colorado. It’s a chance to end with a cherry on top.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to help support the team’s journey to Colorado: gofund.me/e9133ab6.