Prospector Sparks soccer sweeps championship at Association CupBy: Staff Report
What started out as 17 teams from Northern and Central California competing over two weekends in December ended with El Dorado County’s Prospector Sparks under-11 girls’ soccer team as champions of this year’s Association Cup.
Hosted at Cherry Island near Sacramento, the Association Cup was the final tournament of the Sparks Showcase season. The tournament ran December 8-9 and December 15-16.
The Sparks won all six of their games, five by shutout. The Sparks only gave up two goals the entire tournament. On the first weekend, the Sparks earned a 4-0 victory over Petaluma’s Storm and then a 3-0 win over San Francisco’s Viking SFVSC.
Heading into the second day and single elimination brackets, the Sparks continued their momentum with a 3-0 score win against the Clovis Crossfire, advancing Sparks to the quarterfinals the following weekend.
The Sparks earned their third straight shutout, beating the Visalia Galaxy, 3-0, placing them in the semi-finals. The match proved to be a tough one against Mission’s MYSL Strikers. Both teams battled back and forth with goals and were tied 2-2. Within the last two minutes of the game, the newest Spark, Katie Clark, scored the winning goal sending the team into the finals.
The championship game was played against Pacifica United SC Strikers, whose season record prior to Association cup was 22-0-0. The championship game’s only goal was scored on a penalty kick taken by Kendel Gisin within the first 10 minutes of the game. The remainder of the game was an intense battle. The ball spent a majority of the time in the Sparks offensive half of the field due to the outstanding efforts of the midfielders Luci Gulbransen, Kendall Hoffman, Gisin and Grace Stiveson, as well as strikers Abby Morgado and Julin Kenison.
Despite those efforts, several potential breakaways were thwarted by the strong defensive line comprised of Lacy Smith, Ainsley Smith, and Sarah Cox. Sparks’ keeper Juliet Dias had an incredible game and tournament with several critical saves, shutting out the Strikers and preventing an equalizing goal. Incredible shots by Morgado, Stiveson and Gisin were saved by the Strikers keeper. The Sparks worked as a team to bring home the Association Cup.
The Sparks have had a phenomenal season with a 30-5-4 record. They were one-point shy of winning their league, but still led in goal differential. In addition to the Association Cup, Sparks had first-place finishes at the Independence Cup and HalloweenFest, and were silver finalists in the Land Park Cup and Santa Cruz.