The inaugural USL Academy Cup debuted in Tampa, Florida last week and Orange County SC really targeted this competition to branch out and expand their youth set-up.
The club sent boys and girls U-17 squads to the tournament, and the girls team won their division at the competition. Making it more impressive? This is a new team, made up of girls in the club’s larger youth network and uncovered at ID camps in recent months.
The U-17 girls went undefeated in five games in the competition, and outscored their opponents 16-4. They bested Tampa Bay United in the final 3-2, coming from behind to win the game and tournament.
CHAMPIONS— Orange County SC (@orangecountysc) May 31, 2021
Our U17 Girls Academy team has won the #USLAcademy Cup in a stunning comeback 3-2 victory!!! We are so proud of our players and coaches who put in the work to get the W. You’ve made OCSC Academy history!!!#ForCounty pic.twitter.com/yvMDsyNvUk
Grace Thao won the top player award in the tournament for the girls division, and the Santa Margarita native was OCSC’s top scorer for her team, with four goals.
A HUGE congratulations to our three Golden Ball winners. These players were the ones with the most impact on the field for their teams.— USL Academy (@USL_Academy) May 31, 2021
Jacob Hines of @InterMiamiAcad
Grace Thao of @orangecountysc
Asher Jones of @TampaBayUnited #USLAcademy pic.twitter.com/JiFwBtBgaV
Rebecca Giat, of Irvine, added two goals and two assists in the tournament.
“We are very proud of the performances from our OCSC boys and girls academy teams at the USL Academy Cup in Tampa!” said Orange County SC president of soccer operations and general manager Oliver Wyss in a statement. “For our girls team to win the Championship in their first ever competition shows that our established pathway to pro model is in full swing now for the most talented Orange County boys and girls!”
As someone who’s been covering Orange County SC since 2015, I have to admit seeing a girls team wear the familiar uniform was thrilling, to say nothing of the results they got in the competition. The club has previously expressed interest in building out a pathway to the pros from the youth side for girls, something they’ve already embarked on for the boys’ side, and have expressed potential interest in launching a women’s team in the future, too. Bring it on! And obviously, congratulations to the club, Coach Platini and of course the girls who won the USL Academy Cup.
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