Draper player part of national championship soccer team
Sep 05, 2019 12:30PM
● By Catherine Garrett
Draper’s Megan Astle was a part of the Utah Celtic FC 00 U-19 girls soccer team that won a national title at the 2019 U.S. Youth Soccer’s National Championship Series late this summer. (Photos courtesy Megan Astle)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
The Utah Celtic FC 00 19-under girls soccer team brought home the state’s first national championship in more than 40 years at the U.S. Youth Soccer’s National Championship Series Tournament July 28 in Overland Park, Kansas. In the championship game, the Celtic team defeated Lou Fusz Elam (Missouri) 9-1.
“It was a great accomplishment for our team,” said head coach Steve Magleby, who has been coaching this team for the past five years. “We’ve been working toward this for a long time. This was our last game together and I can’t think of a better way to finish our time together. I’m so proud of the girls and the hard work they have put in to get to this point.”
Draper’s Megan Astle, a 2019 Corner Canyon graduate who is the daughter of Jeremy and Janet Astle, scored a goal late in the game to put the team up 8-1.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” Astle said. “We had fallen short last year at regionals when we lost in double overtime in the semifinal, so we promised ourselves we would never do that again. It was such a defeating loss, so being able to come back and play our best soccer was the most gratifying feeling.”
The championship game was a rematch of the second game of the tournament for the Celtic team which had resulted in a 0-0 tie. “We felt the first time we played them we weren’t as sharp as we usually are and we still felt like we should have won that game,” Magleby said. “Our style tends to wear teams down and it’s hard to keep up with us when we are on top of our game, especially after a long week. We felt really confident that we were going to have lots of chances and the girls were fired up from the beginning. We were much sharper than the first time we played them and that made a huge difference.”
Brian Smith, the UYSA’s president of the board of directors said, “These girls winning a national championship is the culmination of a lot of work and preparation by parents and their coaching staff. They worked their game and showed their complete class both on and off the field. I could not be any prouder of these ladies. They are national champs in every sense.”
Throughout the five-game national championship series, they outscored opponents 21 to 6 with additional wins over Sunrise Sting (Florida), Legends FC South (California) and MapleBrook Fury (Minnesota).
Astle said the keys to their success this year were a prepared squad from top to bottom. “We were all super healthy this year and the bench was strong,” she said. “When subs came in the level of play didn’t drop and we continued to dominate.”
The Celtic squad went undefeated throughout its postseason play, which began with Utah’s State Cup where they defeated Utah Celtic East 5-0, Blue Knights Premier 4-1, Wasatch SC 4-1 and Blue Knights 6-0. During the Far West Regional Championships, they beat Players Elite (Nevada) 8-0, Rio Rapids Girls (New Mexico) 2-0, CDA Slammers (California) 4-0, FC Boulder (Colorado) 3-0 and Boise Thorns (Idaho) 1-0 to set up a rematch with CDA Slammers in the final where the Celtic team prevailed 4-0 to reach the national tournament.
“We have a very talented group,” Magleby said. “We attack in so many different ways which makes us really hard to predict. It’s never been about one player on this team. That type of team mentality along with our depth made us dangerous.”
Also on the 19-member squad (who are all current or future collegiate players) are Hailee Atwater, Samantha Brady, Sydney Bushman, Jordan Crockett, Abbi Graham, Katie Haskins, Gabriella Jensen, Kennedy Jex, Brecken Mozingo, Rebecca Olsen, Chelsea Peterson, Alaina Pestana, Anna Pickering, Kate Schirmer, Jamie Shepherd, Megan Unbedacht, Tara Warner and Kathryn Wynn.
Astle, who will play for Utah State University this fall, has been playing soccer since she was 4 years old said she has learned skills beyond technique from the sport, including mental toughness and even how to build chemistry with teammates.
“Megan has been a great player for us,” Magleby said. “This year she really came out of her shell and was one of our top producers. She’s been getting better every year and I’m really excited to see how she keeps progressing at Utah State. When she is playing confident she creates great opportunities for her teammates and herself to score.”
This summer, she has been training for the jump to collegiate soccer. She is grateful for her experiences that have helped her prepare for the next level.
“It’s going to be different playing soccer games and seeing all my best friends in different jerseys playing on the other side of the field, but it’s a good change,” she said.