Dakota Rev teams shine on national, international stages

Girls Premier squads win two major tourneys

Dakota Rev Rampage players gather for a team photo at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before leaving for the Gothia Cup in Sweden, where they won the girls Under-17 championship. Photo submitted
Dakota Rev Rampage players gather for a team photo at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before leaving for the Gothia Cup in Sweden, where they won the girls Under-17 championship. Photo submitted

Two Premier-level teams from Dakota Rev Soccer Club took their game on the road recently, with astonishingly good results.

The Dakota Rev Revenge won the girls Under-15 Premier group championship at the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup XII finals, winning all four of its games. It’s believed to be the first time a Minnesota team has finished first at that tournament.

Last week the Dakota Rev Rampage won the girls U17 championship at the Gothia Cup, a tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden, that bills itself as the “World Youth Cup.” It’s the largest soccer tournament in the world in terms of number of participants (last week’s USA Cup in Blaine is the largest tourney in the Western Hemisphere).

The Rampage went 8-0 in the Gothia Cup and allowed one goal the entire tournament.

Both Dakota Rev teams had numerous players from Dakota County.

Dakota Rev Revenge

The Revenge’s trip to the U.S. National Cup started last summer when it won the U14 Classic 1 championship at the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association summer state tournament. That guaranteed a promotion to Premier status for 2013, and an opportunity for the Revenge to test itself against competition from outside Minnesota.

The team won its division in the Midwest Regional League, then took first in the National Cup Midwest Regional in Chicago. After finishing second in its division at the USA Cup Weekend tournament in Blaine, the Revenge went to Aurora, Colo., for the national tournament not entirely knowing what to expect. The Revenge had never seen any of the other teams it was scheduled to play at the National Cup.

It also was played at a higher altitude, which as it turned out was to the Revenge’s advantage.

“I think we were more fit than the other teams,” Revenge coach Bulut Ozturk said. “The first 15-20 minutes of each game were tough, then we were able to wear down the other teams with our fitness and we got some opportunities to score.

“That’s what happened in our second game there. We got down early; we were behind 2-0 at halftime, but we scored three goals in the second half to win.”

The Revenge beat JASA Costal Surge of Jacksonville, N.C., 2-0 in the championship game Sunday.

Ozturk, who also coaches the girls varsity at Lakeville North High School, said the Revenge developed mental toughness while playing a challenging schedule. The team won six games at a tournament in Las Vegas earlier this year despite having only three substitutes.

The coach also made sure to tell the players they had a chance to make Minnesota soccer history before the National Cup final. Asked if he was concerned about putting too much pressure on the players, Ozturk said, “not at all. With the experiences this group has had, they know they can be successful. When they get on the field, they’re very relaxed.”

Revenge players who participated in the national tournament are Alexis Tousignant, Allie Leeman, Andrea Medellin, Cassidy Leininger, Chloee Sagmoe, Christina Barry, Ellie Peck, Emma Brechlin, Hannah Fuller, Katy Lee, Katie Brumley, Lindsay Hoeppner, Mara Flaherty, Megan Whitney, Melissa Sollie, Rachel Ranke and Stephanie Schaffer. Mia Giorgi, Hannah Marion, Kelly Partington and Jessica Ojala of Dakota Rev’s U14 Premier team were “guest players” for the Revenge at nationals.

Dakota Rev Rampage

Not all of the Rampage players’ families could make the trip to Sweden for the Gothia Cup. Those who had to stay home gathered at Al Baker’s restaurant in Eagan, which allowed them to put the live stream of the U17 championship game on the restaurant’s televisions.

What they saw was another dominating performance by the Rampage, which defeated LB07, a Swedish team, 2-0 in the final. Kellie McGahn and Mackenzie Graybill scored the Rampage’s goals. McGahn plays high school soccer at Eastview. Graybill, a Lakeville resident, attends Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

Current and former players from Eastview, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Lakeville North, Rosemount and Eagan high schools, as well as the School of Environmental Studies, played on the Rampage. The team also had four guest players, three from Shattuck-Mary’s and one from another Dakota Rev team. Rampage head coach Tobbe Thorsell is a native of Sweden who played in the Gothia Cup. Shattuck-St. Mary’s coach Mika Elovaara assisted Thorsell on the trip.

The Rampage rolled through group play, defeating two teams from Sweden and one from Germany by a combined 10-0. The team outscored five playoff opponents 16-1, with the closest game being a 1-0 victory in the semifinals over Cestria Girls FC, an English team.

More than 1,500 teams played in the Gothia Cup, and there were 77 in the girls U17 division.

The Rampage roster for the Gothia Cup consisted of Apple Valley residents Kellie McGahn, Brianna Lindstrom, Julia Lam, Emily Sutliff and Katie Eaton, Rosemount residents Kaylie Hanson and Paige Wilberding, Leah Schmidt of Eagan, Natalie Muench of Burnsville, Lauren Sherry of Elko, Jamie Rademacher of White Bear Lake, Katlin Ptacek of Owatonna, Emily Eslinger of Wayzata, Emily Graupmann of Excelsior, Ella Stout of Minneapolis, Mackenzie Graybill of Lakeville, Adeline Lust of Northfield and Kennedy Ulrich of Canada.