By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Local goalkeeper Rebecca “Fergie” Ferguson returned home from the Gothia Cup in Sweden as a champion with a gold medal.
Ferguson was selected to join FC New England’s 15U team for the international tournament and the keeper didn’t disappoint. Fergie was a crucial part of the team’s success on their way to an undefeated Gothia Cup run and a gold medal.
The Gothia Cup hosted hundreds of youth club teams from more than 60 countries.
The keeper was recruited to play last year and Fergie, 15, was shocked she made the cut. Suddenly, a girl who had never left the country before had the chance to go play the game she loves in Sweden.
This year she met her team just days before the tournament but the players clicked immediately.
“We bonded as a team and went out a lot as a team,” said Ferguson. “If we didn’t get along the way we did, it would’ve been more difficult.”
The team had just two days of practice together in Copenhagen, Sweden, before jumping into the Cup.
Fergie and the squad started off with a bang, blanking the Swedish side Almhults IF 4-0.
The team went on a nine-game undefeated tear where only two teams could finish within a goal of FCNE. Fergie finished the cup with four clean sheets.
The closest game of the match would come in the semifinals, where FCNE was forced into penalty kicks with FC Djursholm.
Fergie was feeling the nerves but still made one of the best plays of her life. The keeper made the game-winning save in PKs, sending her squad into the finals and firing up her team.
The Gothia Cup’s final match came against another Swedish side, IF FF Hammarby, in a packed stadium that was a majority Sweden fans. It was the largest crowd Ferguson had ever played in front of but FCNE again handled their business and won the match 4-2. It was the club’s sixth game scoring three or more goals.
FCNE was hyped and celebrated as much as they could before taking their four-hour bus ride back to Copenhagen. The party went strong for about 20 minutes into the ride before the tired team passed out.
However, upon their return and rejoining with all the parents and USA fans, the celebration sparked back up.
After the championship, Fergie felt a new level of confidence in her game.
“I feel like I got better,” said Ferguson. “This tournament made me more confident in my ability. This tournament gave me a new level of confidence that I didn’t have before.”
Ferguson had now traveled to Europe, explored a foreign country and won an international tournament, but her favorite part of it all was just meeting new people.
“My favorite part was getting to know different people from all over the world,” said Ferguson. “We spent time with different teams in the hotel.”
Fergie is a dual-rostered club player who has been playing soccer for 10 years. She plays for LAFC 07 ECNL and Discovery 06 for coach Leo Neveleff. She has also helped her LAFC club win the Manchester City Cup as well as a runner-up finish in the State tournament.
Neveleff was not surprised by her performance in the Gothia Cup. The coach said his star keeper has never missed a practice and has worked extremely hard in every single one.
“Her dedication is an example for everyone to follow,” said Neveleff. “She’s a natural leader on the field.”
The coach is also the reigning Coach of the Year in United Women’s Soccer for the SC Blue Heat. Neveleff has been able to bring Fergie into the pro-am’s practices, giving her invaluable experience playing alongside national and collegiate players.
Neveleff will coach her everywhere but in high school, as the Canyon coach will have to deal with Ferguson at least a few times this upcoming season as she aims to make Valencia’s varsity squad.
“She’s always caring for other people,” said Neveleff. “That’s something you don’t get in every player.”
Fergie has also made strides training with Zero Theory Wellness under trainer and College of the Canyons women’s soccer coach Craig Jaffe.
Jaffe had Fergie come out to check out a training session with other goalkeepers where she made her presence known.
“You could tell right away that she was very skilled and had potential to be a very good goalkeeper,” said Jaffe. “A lot of raw potential from a kid who has the desire to be better.”
Jaffe also noticed Ferguson’s competitiveness, saying no matter who was in the training session, Fergie would be aiming to be one of the best.
“I have a good group of high-level keepers that work together,” said Jaffe. “She’s one of those kids that no matter who’s in the session, she’s trying to assert herself as one of the best.”
The keeper would like to keep playing in college when she gets there but for now will enjoy her high school and club careers. The incoming sophomore already has a few schools in mind where she plans to major in psychology.
Both Jaffe and Neveleff believe her play and drive can take her as far as she wants.
“Her ceiling as a soccer player and as a person is high as she wants it to go,” said Jaffe.