The Petaluma United under-12 girls team began play this summer in Sacramento and played in it's first tournament as a newly formed team while battling temperatures that peaked at 108 degrees. This year's under-12 team is a blend of last year's under-11 Galaxy and under-11 Storm, as well as several new players that came out of Petaluma's strong rec program.
After a good showing in Sacramento, the United girls stepped things up in the Seawolves' six vs. six tournament at Sonoma State University. The under-12 girls breezed through their first two games with easy wins before matching up with an old nemesis, the Tigers from the Santa Rosa South Club. Petaluma and the Tigers faced off three times in 2012, and several times during the winter indoor season. During the Sonoma State Tournament, the two teams ended a physical match with a 2-2 draw. After some controversy with tie breakers and a review of the official scoring cards, Petaluma moved on to the championship game of the tournament. In the final, Petaluma battled another familiar foe from its indoor season, Ukiah. Petaluma won the contest 3-2, with the highlight goal being a corner kick from Emma Riley that was one timed into the goal by midfielder Makena Harmina.
The team celebrated by picking up the championship trophy, championship t-shirts and then helping their coach Tyler Hurst get a Gatorade bath. During the tournament several players earned hat tricks and almost every player scored.
After a few weeks of hard training, the United girls traveled south for the Tiburon-Mill Valley Fall Kick Off.
The Petaluma girls eased into the tournament with an easy win against a team from the East Bay, the Eclipse Soccer Club. United won the game, 6-0, with Jasmine Heinemann netting two of the six goals and Abby Chamberlain and Emily McCarthy combing for the clean sheet in goal.
The afternoon game on Saturday was a rematch with the Tigers. After coming out slow and falling behind, 4-0, United stormed back with two goals from Mikayla Keefer but ended up losing, 4-3. Needing a win on Sunday morning to be able to advance to the championship, United played their best game to date. With a strong defensive performance from keepers McCarthy and Chamberlain and defenders Emily Rosa, Taya Llapitan, Hannah Herman and Emma Riley, as well as a hat trick from winger Alex Urton, United won the game handily, 4-1.
The championship game was a classic defensive battle against another team from the East Bay Eclipse Soccer Club, the East Bay Eclipse Lunar. United gave up an early goal, and then battled for nearly an hour before equalizing on a Hannah Herman penalty kick from 30 yards out. After the game and overtime periods ended in a 1-1 tie, the game went to penalty kicks.
Even after the obligatory five penalty kicks, the teams were deadlocked at three made penalties each. After the initial five, each team received one attempt at a time to determine the winner. Edith Lopez stepped up and drove her first attempt into the back of the net giving Petaluma a 4-3 advantage.
The next few moments were tense with parents on the edge of their camping chairs, and coaches pacing back and forth. An East Bay player stepped forward with her chance at extending the drama even farther. She advanced on the ball and struck it to the left of keeper Emily McCarthy. McCarthy, using perfect technique, slid left into the path of the ball, dropped to her knees and cradled the ball to her chest.
As soon as the ball and championship were safely in her hands, McCarthy was rushed by her teammates who tackled her on the 18-yard line in a celebratory heap.
The United team is Coached by Tyler Hurst and assisted by Andrew Riley.