A championship soccer team celebrated a victory in mid-July, putting its mark on the national stage and going undefeated in tournament play, a tournament with teams from several foreign countries.
No, we're not talking about the USA women’s soccer team, or the World Cup. These champions were a bit younger.
The Mason City Ice, a U13 team from the Mason City Soccer Club, recently won the Target USA Cup, one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the world.
The Target USA Cup featured 1,152 teams from 20 different countries and 22 states. The Ice went 5-0 in the tournament, beating teams from Minnesota, Michigan, Canada, and North Dakota en route to winning the championship.
Head coach Micah McMorris said the tournament was an incredible experience for his team, which is the No. 3 ranked U13 team in Iowa, according to Gotsoccer.com.
“That victory was huge. We got a lot of recognition from that tournament, the whole year," he said. "The tournament put the icing on the cake. The Mason City Soccer Club is becoming known all over the state.”
McMorris is certain that the attention the team has received since its victory will only help them grow the program.
“It’s really growing," McMorris said. "We’ve gotten a lot of interest. It’s done a lot for the girls, they’ve put their heart and interest into it. It’s been a very good experience all around. It’s a good thing for the future.”
The clinching victory came on July 14 when the team beat the Magic Soccer FC Celtic team by a score of 4-2 at National Sports Center, in Blaine, Minnesota.
“We came together very well at the end of the tournament,” McMorris said. “It was a very family-like experience. My favorite moment would be playing in the main stadium, an official soccer stadium with lights, for the first time.”
The Mason City Soccer Club offers soccer coaching and teams for all ages and skills levels, from recreational to competitive club teams. The club began in 2014 and the girls who played in and won the USA Cup have played together since even before that time.
“They’ve been playing together for quite a long time, I’d say about seven to eight years,” McMorris said. "We’ve had a couple of girls join over time, but that core, they’ve been playing since they were 5 or 6 years old together.”
This season, the team had an overall record of 21-1-1, and won two other tournaments in addition to the USA Cup. The Ice won the Eagan Wave Tournament in Minnesota, and the Tonka Splash Tournament, which took place in June.
“I’m really happy for them. They’re showing a lot of progress, and there are a lot of smiles," McMorris said. "They’re always smiling, having a good time, and competing. Our pictures have a lot of families, a lot of smiles. It really tells the whole story.”