River Soccer competes at Beach Blitz tournament in O.C.
The River Soccer U9 Girls team tested their skills on the sand last weekend, at the first-ever Beach Blitz Tournament, held on the beach at the Ocean City, Md., Inlet.
The team, coached by River Soccer alum Bethany Beck, took the second-place trophy after a tough loss to the West Virginia Sand Sharks in the finals, 4-1. Despite falling short of a championship, Beck said it was a great experience for her players as they continue to learn the game.
“I think the girls really enjoyed the experience,” she said. “Beach soccer offered some challenges the girls were not used to. Dribbling on sand is much more difficult than on grass, with the terrain being so soft and constantly changing. That, along with running on the sand — I don’t think the girls realized how much faster they would tire out.”
Growing up playing River Soccer herself, Beck knows the importance of not only developing tournament experience early but what the program means to the ultimate success of the high school program, as well.
“I grew up playing in the rec program at River and played on the girls’ travel team when we had enough players to make a team for tournaments and fall seasons,” she explained. “So I know this club is a huge asset to the high school program. When you’ve played with the same teammates for years, by the time you get to high school, you’ve got girls that have great chemistry on the field.”
While the beach-based tournament should help them start developing that chemistry, Beck said she thinks her team is ready to get back to learning new skills on the turf — where they have begun to further their understanding of the sport.
“I think the girls enjoyed playing on the beach but are ready to get back to the normal field,” she said. “At this age, like with any sport, there is a lot of repetition in learning the basic rules and positions of the game. It has been fun to see these girls advance to learning positions and where to be on the field, rather than chasing the ball around every direction.”
With the Beach Blitz Tournament now under their belts, Beck said her team will look to use the experience in future tournaments this year, and hopes to return next year.
“Having an opportunity to play in a different setting was fun, and I plan on the team playing in beach soccer tournaments again next summer,” she said. “With a couple tournaments left for us to play in this year, we’ll see how playing on the beach impacts the way the girls play on grass.”