By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Legends SCV 07 FC, continuing its run as one of the most accomplished clubs in all of youth soccer — having won three California state titles since 2018 — broke through for a national title this season.
The team has no secret weapon of one player or longevity with most of the players coming in just a few years ago. Instead, head coach Adam Waddell insists the success roots from hard work and high soccer IQ.
“That’s why this team has been successful. There hasn’t been drama or problems, there’s just been work,” said Waddell. “These girls train Monday through Friday with games on weekends. There’s no days off.”
Waddell believes he has a strong and balanced team starting at the back with goalkeeper Sierra Cordola. The backline features future Foothill League stars in center backs Abigail Frink and Mackenzie Wiese as well as left back Mikaela Burchell.
Constantly working and moving in the midfield is the group of Kylie O’Donnell, Kylee Rose, Isabella Bruno and Gianna Costello.
Up front on the attack are Julia Willis, Gisele Saravia and Mia Rodriguez.
The coach mentioned every player on his team as someone who brought different things to the table and helped make the team better every day. Legends also featured Kennedy Arnold, Alexandra Costello, Sophia DeCesare, Riley Edemann, Lilian Golphenee, Halle Greenfield, Alyssa Owens, Presley Roth and Isabelle Yosefzadeh.
Waddell thought his team had a different look at the end of the pandemic. Last year, the 2007s went to the National Premier League championships for the first time and were turned away earlier than expected. Once they returned home, the work began again for the next season.
The club had to play 10 games in November to qualify again for the National Cup. They won their third state title along the way as well in dramatic fashion.
Legends 07 was matched up again with its rival Tudela FC 07. The club beat Legends just the week before, 4-1.
The team was not phased but came in with a different strategy to confuse Tudela. The game plan worked and the SCV side held a 1-0 lead until the end of regulation.
Tudela rocketed a solid corner kick inside the box and a former Legends player tied the game with an equalizer goal with two minutes left.
The game would eventually go into penalty kicks to decide a state champion. Cordola stopped two shots, leaving the game in the hands of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez felt the pressure but was unphased. She fired a shot into the bottom left corner just past the Tudela keeper, securing Legends’ third state title.
The National Cup would be hosted in Commerce City, Colorado, this year. Waddell went through great lengths to prepare his team for the dramatic change in altitude.
The team trained running hills, utilized cryotherapy and even ate cordycep mushrooms to help the players’ breathing. Waddell was also able to bring his staff out to nationals this year, unlike the previous season, which tremendously helped the team with setup, scouting and coaching.
Legends had a couple of tough first-round matchups and it showed. The team had draws with both of its opponents, leading to Legends needing a lot of games to move on in the tournament.
The coach stayed up watching film until 3 a.m. the night before as he knew what was at stake. Waddell knew his team needed to win his next match by four and needed the other game to draw scoreless.
Legends came out flat in their game and went into the halftime break tied at 1-1. The team was never phased and thanks to a halftime adjustment, Legends exploded and won the game 5-1.
The team rejoiced in their victory but quickly ran to watch the match they needed to tie. Their hearts sank after a goal was scored but after the offside flag was waved the team could breathe again. Legends never stopped believing as they watched with arms around each other in the pouring rain and eventually their fate was sealed as the match they were watching drew scoreless. The team celebrated in the stands wilder than any postgame win celebration.
“We could’ve been home by day three but like I said, it was in the cards, it was meant to be,” said Waddell.
Legends stormed into the semifinals with their momentum and beat their opponents, 3-1, before another lopsided 3-0 win in their championship match over Rebels SC.
Waddell will never forget his team’s performance in Colorado but the most memorable part of his trip was his son, Marley, breaking his arm in a hotel door during the tournament. Marley was in good spirits after the painful break and said the only souvenir he wanted was the 15U trophy.
The coach was ecstatic to see his team win it all but thought one of the biggest things was his team paving the way for other younger Legends’ teams.
“Biggest thing was our youth seeing their siblings did it,” said Waddell. “There’s a way to get to the national championships. This team paved the way and now it gives the younger kids a chance to dream.”
Even though the championship was a total team effort, the team couldn’t help but shout out to their star keeper Cordola.
“I’d definitely say our goalie carried us,” said Willis.
Cordola played most of the minutes in the tournament and conceded just one goal.
“Legends is all about teamwork,” said Saravia. “Winning nationals is setting the bar for the younger Legends teams. It’s definitely a proud moment to come home with that title.”
The team’s chemistry and dedication had previously led to multiple state titles but now the team can celebrate as national champions.
“I don’t have any better friends,” said Willis. “My best friends are on this team. I’ve never met genuinely happier people than on this team. No one on this team brings anyone down, it’s a happy environment.”
Waddell and his team know they couldn’t have accomplished any of their feats without their other coaches: Craig Jaffe, Zach Kilndworth, Justin Lundin and Andy Bruno.
Legends will continue to grow after nearly crumbling four years ago. In 2018, the club only featured one team. This upcoming season, the club will have 26 teams.
Waddell thought if he ever won a national title he’d retire from coaching, but after seeing everything his team and staff had worked for come to fruition, he doesn’t think it’d be possible to walk away from them. The head coach will at least coach his 2007 squad out of club and help get them to their desired soccer destinations.
“I appreciate how [Waddell] has believed in me since I first started as a guest player with him, at 7 years old,” said Saravia. “He keeps me in the game for as long as I can and places me in good positions where he knows I am at my best. I am now focusing on the next victory because I always have to remind myself that yesterday is forgotten and it’s what we’re going to do that really matters.”
For now, the players are gearing up to enter their sophomore years with most of them ready to make their names known in the Foothill League.
As for their club side, they have already grown accustomed to defending their state titles but will now have the chance to defend a National Cup title in 2023 with their closest friends.
“It’s definitely a blessing to be part of this team,” said Saravia. “I’ve created so many great memories with my teammates, my coaches. The bond is something great about the team along with the friendships.”