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November 21, 2007 > FC Fremont Firebirds close out a highly successful season

FC Fremont Firebirds close out a highly successful season

Submitted By Blaise Castren
Photos By Jason Strom

FC Fremont Firebirds, in a wild finish, came within fifteen seconds of capturing the Under-12 Girls Division championship at the Crossroads Invitational Soccer Tournament this past weekend, Nov.17-18.

Just when it appeared the Firebirds' spirited comeback from an early deficit would secure the title, the Livermore Jaguars tied the game as overtime expired, then won on penalty kicks at Dublin's Emerald Glen Park on Sunday.

Despite the heart-breaking conclusion, the Firebirds took second place and ended their season with an outstanding 17-2-1 record.

The Firebirds, who won their first three games of the tournament by a combined score of 16-1, fell behind 2-0 in the first half against Livermore. Raquel Rodas answered in the first minute after halftime as the Firebirds came out fired up. Ashley Campbell then knotted the contest with a spectacular sliding goal.

Lauren Youhanna, subbing in goal after intermission, made three excellent saves to keep the game tied as overtime loomed. Meanwhile, Synclaire Hamilton was all over the field at sweeper as the Firebirds controlled play late in the game.

In the first 10-minute overtime period, the Firebirds took their first lead. Jenna Wondka, who delayed her family trip to Chicago a day to play in the final two games, hooked the ball into the net for a 3-2 lead. The Firebirds held on through the remainder of the first overtime and most of the second before Livermore's tying goal.

The game then went to a shootout. Wondka, Rodas, and Eva Liu all converted for the Firebirds as the first portion ended tied 3-3. But the Jaguars prevailed in the first extra kick as the game ended just before dark.

In the round-robin portion of the tournament, the Firebirds defeated Newark 5-1, Dublin 6-0, and Pleasanton 5-0.

Against Newark, the Firebirds fell behind 1-0 before storming back behind the four goals by Rodas, and one by Elena Strom. Cindy Tafolla and Kailey Richardson, who also were outstanding on defense, added assists while Rodas' final goal was a tap-in after Hamilton dribbled down the field, only to see her shot saved, but not secured by the goalie. Alonda Gamboa had two excellent scoring chances and Kayla Gladish also played well in the victory.

Wondka scored two goals and Rodas, Strom, Youhanna, and Hamilton one each in the victory over Dublin. Campbell chipped in with an assist, while Claire Castren and Ciara Valdez each barely missed scoring opportunities. Amy deLanda also had a stellar contest for the Firebirds. Samantha Stephens, who has been the anchor of the Firebirds' defense all season, played an excellent game by keeping Dublin away from the net.

Firebirds scored three early goals against Pleasanton, and then goalie Cerrena Vera came up with four big saves and a spot in the finals was secured. Rodas, who had nine goals in the tournament and finished with 28 for the season, scored three times while Wondka and Tafolla added one each. Youhanna chipped in with an assist on Tafolla's goal while the two were contributors on a nifty play to set up Rodas' opening goal.

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