Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sparks sweep Cup

SparksAssociationCup

SPARKS FLY — Association Cup winners back row from left: coach Jason Gulbransen, Sarah Cox, Julin Kenison, Abby Morgado, Kendel Gisin, Grace Stiveson, coach Ryan Smith. Front row from left: Luci Gulbransen, Ainsley Smith, Juliet Dias, Lacy Smith, Kendall Hoffman. Not pictured: Katie Clark.

SACRAMENTO — Seventeen North and Central California teams competed over two weekends at last month’s Association Cup won by the El Dorado County’s Prospector Sparks U11 girls team at Cherry Island.

The Cup was the final tournament of the Sparks’ showcase season.

Of the six games played, the Sparks swept with five shutouts. Just twice were goals scored against them.

On the first weekend, the Sparks opened with a 4-0 victory over Petaluma’s Storm followed by a 3-0 win over San Francisco’s Viking SFVSC.

Heading into the second day and single elimination brackets, the Sparks continued their shutout momentum with another 3-0 score achieved against Clovis’ Crossfire, advancing Sparks to the quarterfinals the following weekend.

In the quarters, El Dorado Hills defeated Visalia’s Galaxy 3-0, placing it in the semifinals round against Mission’s MYSL Strikers. Both teams battled back-and-forth with goals and were tied 2-2 in the last two minutes  when newest Spark, Katie Clark, scored the winning goal to send the team to the championships.

The final game was played against Pacifica United SC Strikers whose season record prior to the Association cup was 22-0-0. Kendel Gisin converted a penalty kick in the first 10 minutes for the only score of the match as the remaining 50 minutes were an intense battle.

The outstanding efforts of the midfielders Luci Gulbransen, Kendall Hoffman, Kendel Gisin, and Grace Stiveson as well as strikers Abby Morgado and Julin Kenison kept the pressure on Pacifica. Despite those efforts, several potential breakaways were thwarted by the strong defensive line of Lacy Smith, Ainsley Smith and Sarah Cox.

Sparks’ keeper Juliet Dias had an incredible game and tournament with several critical saves to prevent the equalizer.

The Sparks’ season record is 30-5-4 record.

Special to the Democrat

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