For American boys’ and girls’ soccer players under the age of 13, there is no United States Youth Soccer National Championship.
But there is a de facto national championship.
The Premier SuperCopa.
The event’s website even bills it as, “America’s Championship.” And in 2019, a Monmouth County girls’ team will play in it.
From June 12-16 at MoneyGram Soccer Park in Dallas, Texas., the Cedar Stars Academy Monmouth 2009G Green team will have a chance to prove that it is the best girls’ soccer team in the country in the U10 division.
“America’s Championship” features six groups with four teams each. The Cedar Stars Academy will be the No. 2 seed in its group.
The Premier SuperCopa is invite only. It’s actually a lot like the NCAA Men’s or Women’s Basketball Tournament. Teams need strong resumes to land invites, and the Monmouth club had one.
Last fall, the Cedar Stars finished undefeated in their Eastern Development Program league, which included teams from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut. Then in the winter, the Cedar Stars won 12 different tournaments against teams from all over the northeastern region of the country. Finally, early in the spring, they won the Jefferson Cup in Richmond, Va.
“That’s the No. 1 tournament in the country for girls’ youth soccer,” said the Cedar Stars’ coach, Ryan Tetro. “Outside of the SuperCopa.”
The Cedar Stars Academy is located in Tinton Falls, and all the players live “within 50-60 minutes of our fields,” Tetro said.
Central New Jersey has been a girls’ soccer hotbed for years. Longtime U.S. Women’s National Team standout Carli Lloyd hails from Burlington County and attended Rutgers University while Tobin Heath, a star on this year’s U.S. Women’s National Team that is playing this week in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, played scholastically at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge.
These Cedar Stars U10 players come from all over central Jersey, and they are all vying to be the next Lloyd. They even wear the local legend’s jersey whenever they go to team events, like bowling nights or mini golf outings.
While Lloyd plays for the U.S. team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which started on June 7, her young fans will also be trying to win their big tournament. And like Lloyd, they will be representing their hometowns in the process.
For the Cedar Stars’ U10 team, it all starts in the back with precocious goalkeeper Olivia Klink, who is from Old Bridge Township.
“I think she’s the best goalkeeper in the state,” Tetro said. “She has natural keeper instincts and she’s not afraid to come off her line.”
Tetro’s back line includes Ella Peoples from Little Silver, Grace Greene from Little Silver, Sam Price of Sea Girt and Cristine Baschiano of Staten Island, the only player on the team from outside New Jersey.
The midfield group features Sophia Vriesendorp of Monroe Township, Jordyn Sullivan of Rumson, Amelia Montas from Franklin Township and Kayla Sasso from Manalapan Township.
Finally, the Cedar Stars have a trio of scorers in Gianna Hans of Chesterfield Township, Sofia Chaknis from Middletown Township and Sabrina Karoly of Monroe.
All three units are elite. The back line is technical and physical. The midfielders control possession and work the ball forward. And the scorers all bring different attack methods to the pitch.
Hans can score from anywhere, even 35 feet out, a rare skill for a 10 year old. Chaknis is small, fast and “all over the place,” Tetro said, “creating havoc.” Karoly is a lefty playmaker with more technical skill than some high school players.
“She’ll have some through balls where we’re like, ‘How does she even see that?'” Tetro said.
It’s a team without a weakness. And in a few days, it may become the best U10 team in the country.
“They are fun to watch,” Tetro said.