Soccer is a year round sport for most players on the Washington Timbers FC ’02 team, which includes players born in the year 2002.
The local club team just won the Oregon State Youth Soccer Championship. Now, the players are headed to Hawaii, where they will compete against other state soccer champions from the western United States.
Although technically considered an Oregon team, the ’02 team actually trains in east Vancouver at the Harmony Sports Complex. Players on the team are from Oregon and Washington and include four players from Camas and Washougal. The local team has won the Oregon Youth Soccer Championship three years in a row.
Team chemistry is key
Liz Parker and Alexis Sadler, who goes by the nickname “Lulu,” have played together on the team since they were both 9 years old. Today, most players are juniors in high school.
“I love the chemistry we all have, because so many of us have been together for so long,” Sadler said.
“We like to focus on our connection and traveling together, and rooming together only helps bring us closer,” Parker said.
Head coach Peter Picket has turned that chemistry into an effective strategy for winning.
“We play a very good style of soccer because most of these kids have been playing here at Harmony Sports Complex since they were 9 and 10 years old. We take great pride in keeping the ball a majority of the game, which is a complicated way to play, but it forces the other teams to plan against it,” Pickett said.
Washington Timbers FC helps high school teams
Most players on the team also play for high schools around the area. The Washington Timbers FC season lasts nine months, but the team takes a two-month break in the fall to give its players time to play for their respective high schools.
“When the club players are strong, then the local high schools all benefit from that, and most of our girls play for high schools,” Pickett said.
Lauren Snedeker, for example, who plays for Washougal High School and the Washington Timbers, said she she gets a lot more experience in club ball than in school, because the school season is so short, at two months versus the club’s nine months.
“It’s a really cool experience and helps me get better for high school because everyone on this team is very skilled,” Snedeker said of the Washington Timbers FC team.
Avery Smith plays for Camas High School and the ’02 team. She said high school soccer is different from club soccer but that both have taught her important skills.
“It’s a lot more technical work here in club ball,” Smith said. “However, in high school we have a lot more set plays, so I enjoy playing both.”
Among the estimated 14,000 spectators at the tournament in Hawaii will be some of the nation’s top collegiate coaches and scouts. The local team left for Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday, June 10, and will be in the tropical sunshine for eight days as the girls compete for the U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV Championship title.
Region IV includes teams from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon.
The Oregon champions will kick off the bracket tournament by playing state champions from Utah, northern California and New Mexico. Winners in Hawaii earn a trip to the 2018 Youth Soccer National Championship in Frisco, Texas.
“I think our ability to play together and our technical awareness with everyone around the field is what will help us succeed in Hawaii,” Snedeker said.