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Rec Sports Spotlight: FSC under-13 girls on Fire

The Freedom Soccer Club under-13 Firestorm Red team. First/Bottom Row, from left: Alison Embrey, Katie Bornyek, Taylor Shank, Kassie O’Hern, Caroline Little, Grace Culver, Haley Greenwade. Middle Row: Chrissy Elliott (Coach), Lauren Mondor, Sophia Echevarria, Olivia Mead, Emma Gordon, Grace Beck, Devon Elliott, Taylor Dadds, Kendyl Sarver, Allan Culver (Coach). Top Row: Bill Elliott (Coach). Not pictured: Rachel Dougherty.
The Freedom Soccer Club under-13 Firestorm Red team. First/Bottom Row, from left: Alison Embrey, Katie Bornyek, Taylor Shank, Kassie O’Hern, Caroline Little, Grace Culver, Haley Greenwade. Middle Row: Chrissy Elliott (Coach), Lauren Mondor, Sophia Echevarria, Olivia Mead, Emma Gordon, Grace Beck, Devon Elliott, Taylor Dadds, Kendyl Sarver, Allan Culver (Coach). Top Row: Bill Elliott (Coach). Not pictured: Rachel Dougherty.(Submitted photo)

The Freedom Soccer Club's (FSC) Firestorm under-13 girls Red and White teams have been pretty successful over the past couple of years. And they aren't through yet.

White finished second in the Baltimore Beltway Soccer League in fall, 2014, its first year of play. It was second in that league again in spring of 2015. Firestorm White won the 19th Annual Columbus Weekend Classic Tournament in Westminster last fall.

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Over this past winter the White squad won an indoor soccer championship at Westminster's Carroll Indoor Sports Center. The first weekend in September, it won a Parkville Labor Day Tournament.

Last weekend, it put on a strong effort in the Dillsburg (Pa.) Tournament by going 4-2, although it finished only fifth of 16 teams.

In 2015, Firestorm Red won the Olney Boys and Girls Club (OBGC) Capital Cup tournament as an under-12 team and was a finalist in last autumn's Capital Fall Classic.

This year, Red is ranked the 11th-best under-13 girls team in the state by GotSoccer Inc. So far, it is 4-0 in its EDP fall soccer league after being a semifinalist in the Baltimore Mania spring soccer tournament.

The team lost only one player from last year; two others moved up from younger Freedom club teams. Fifteen players were back.

Firestorm Red started well this spring with its finish in the Baltimore Mania soccer tournament.

It also hoped to be a repeat champion in this year's OBGC tournament, too. Unfortunately, Firestorm's pool included Loudoun, one of the top girls teams in Virginia.

"We lost to them 2-1, in the final minutes, and we didn't make the finals. They went on to win the tournament," Red coach Bill Elliott said.

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But things have been different in EDP so far. The New Jersey-based EDP soccer organization's goal is to assemble strong, competitive leagues to prepare players for college. Freedom Soccer Club has much the same aim, and Elliott's girls were prepared.

So far, they have allowed only one goal in four games while scoring 16.

Firestorm White is keeping busy this fall, too. It plays in a Central Maryland Soccer Association under-13 league where it is 3-0-2. Some of its opponents are Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC) squads which can be pretty formidable.

"We play some of the top teams in SAC. SAC has a much wider draw area than we do; we are only a small program," head coach Dave Busch said with a touch of pride in his voice.

He also had almost all of his girls back this year, and he feels that has helped the team lot.

It certainly didn't hurt him in Parkville.

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Firestorm White won an easy opener over AFC Pride 6-0. Then it played a tight, back and forth contest with Parkville.

Freedom led 2-1 late, but Parkville tied it in the final minutes. The game ended 2-2.

However, White beat Sacred Heart Margerumo 4-0 in the next game and beat Essex United 4-1 in the final.

That gave Busch's team a 3-0-1 record and the under-13 girls title.

The team started quickly in Dillsburg last weekend by winning its first three games. Then it split a pair of 2-0 games in its next bracket.

Its final game, against the Quakertown Force, was scoreless and went into overtime. But then Busch's Freedom team lost on a shootout.

Busch credits team speed for some of his Firestorm White team's success this season to date.

"We have speed on defense and at striker. A couple of girls there are very fast, and that always helps," he said.

Another strength has been his girls' ability to control the game.

"Our passing has been excellent this year. We have controlled the ball very well and maintained possession. It's something we work hard on in practice where we stress fundamentals," Busch said.

Both teams have a lot of soccer left even though it is already mid-October.

Firestorm Red has been selected to play in November's Bethesda Premier Cup. It was chosen after submitting its records to tournament organizers.

Elliott says his team needs to improve some things in order to make a good showing in Bethesda next month and finish strong in its fall, EDP league.

"We are improving on offense. We have to improve on handling pressure and do a better job of hanging onto the ball when we're pressed. We also need to move the ball quicker to the goal in order to avoid pressure," he said.

We need to be consistent, too, and we need to maintain our desire the whole game. If you do that, you will win."

White plays in November's Fallston Cup where it finished third last year.

As for the CMSA where four games remain, Busch is optimistic.

"We've very competitive there. I think we can finish in the top one or two," the coach said.

This is a year he will enjoy, regardless of the outcome.

"I have been very pleased with all of (the players). I couldn't be happier," Busch said. "We have a good team, and we want to win. But it has also been fun out there; it's been a lot of fun."

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