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December 13, 2011 > Soccer: Furious Crushing Panthers stellar in path to Super Cup finals

Soccer: Furious Crushing Panthers stellar in path to Super Cup finals

Submitted By Paul Keswick

The Furious Crushing Panthers (a.k.a. FCP) took second place in the inaugural FC Fremont Super Cup, an open tournament for division 4 soccer teams. The U12 girls' team won their first three games to reach the championship against an undefeated team from Pleasanton.

Starting against divisional rival Smurfs on Saturday morning, FCP had not beaten them in three tries, losing 1-0 twice and tying them 1-1 on the last game of their regular season. After a scoreless first half, FCP scored on a beautiful cross from Lauren "Firecracker" Sage on the right sideline, redirected from the near to the far post by Hannah Wetzel to a crashing Megan Friedenberg for the games only goal. From there, the defense led by Katie Roney, Nikhila Rao, Renae Maskey, Alison "Rock" Dalmasso, and Sanum Hamidi kept the Smurfs from putting any pressure on goalie Molly Sheridan.

Game 2 had FCP up against league winners from Walnut Creek that had scored 44 goals and given up only four in 11 games. FCP would need a near perfect game to keep up with the powerful Walnut Creek team. The two teams traded rushes in the first half met with great defense and strong goal tending. Neither team was able to push through a goal in the first 30 minutes.

The very physical WC team tried intimidation to break FCP from their game plan, but to no avail. When WC took a penalty in the box, Samantha Teixeira coolly placed one just out of reach of the goalie for a 1-0 lead. That would be all FCP would need as the midfield line of Maddog Keswick, Shayal Patel, Firecracker, Teixeira, and Jocelyn and Lety Figuroa controlled possession the rest of the way. The effort was so solid that the scoring machine from WC didn't even register a single shot for the entire match. FCP got the near perfect game they needed.

Sunday morning brought game 3 against Newark. Knowing that a win would send them to the championship game, FCP attacked from start to finish, leaving no doubt that they belonged there. The midfield line controlled the field position so the attackers of Stephanie Ogrey, Sarah Friedenberg, and Wetzel could work their way inside the goal box.

Jocelyn Figueroa scored first on a nice crossing shot from the right side at 20 yards. Goalie Nandini Bhandari turned back three shots in the first half. In the second half, goalie Molly Sheridan kept them at bay while the offense controlled possession and worked in another goal, this time coming on a pass from defender Rao to a streaking Jocelyn Figueroa who passed to Sarah Friedenberg for the second goal. That would be enough as they moved on to the championship game.

The rain came on heavy, but could not dampen the spirits of these girls. Pleasanton was loaded with terrifically skilled and fast players. Again FCP would need a near perfect game to best this strong team. Pleasanton swiftly marched down the field and put one in right away, serving notice to the strong defense of FCP. They would add another on a break away goal and took a 2-0 lead into the half. On the second half kick off, they would add a third goal just 15 seconds into the half. FCP showed no sign of quitting though and adjusted their attack in an attempt to slow down the speed of their opponent.

Goalie Saaniya Kapur made perhaps the save of the tournament on another break away shot as she tackled the shooter and injured herself in the process. The defense of Sage, Roney, Maskey, and Bhandari kept them at bay the rest of the way. Lety Figueroa took a pass from Ogrey and nailed a beautiful shot from the left side at 35 yards. Wetzel, Keswick, Teixeira, and Sage continued to put pressure on Pleasanton, but ran out of time. Nonetheless, FCP had an amazing run and showed tremendous teamwork, courage, composure, and poise. They brought a lot of joy to their fans and coaches that stood out in the rain for most of the weekend, but would not trade it for anything else.

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