Guam – Guam U14 Girls national team coach Sam San Gil is targeting a spot for the island’s team in the East region playoffs of the 2014 U14 Girls Regional Championship in Beijing, China. To get there, the team must finish in the top two in its group.
“We are looking to qualify for the semifinals and stay in the tournament to the end,” San Gil said. “To prepare, we’ve increased the amount and quality of training – technically and tactically, and also conditioning. These three areas will be key.
“The Guam Football Association has invested a lot in preparations and the Gaffer (GFA technical director Gary White) has invested a lot of time in mentoring me as a coach this past year. I hope that what the girls have learned these past months will transpire on the pitch,” the second-year head coach added.
[Representing Guam at the AFC U14 Girls Regional Championship East Division are kneeling, from left to right: Shania Spindel, Aubrienne Pangindian, Skyylerblu Johnson, Caylani Estoy, Colleen Naden, Sabrina Kenney, Sina Elizabeth Eisenhardt; second row left to right: Tiffani Lopez, Rhiannon Pangindian, Brianne Leon Guerrrero, Brittany Meno, Tara Usita-Lee, Faith Acfalle and Ariya Cruz; back row standing left to right: Randi Jo Paulino, Megan Hawes, assistant coach Kim Sherman, head coach Sam San Gil, assistant coach Ashley Besagar, Yae Kawauchi and Sabrina Wiegand.]
In last year’s U13 Girls competition, Guam was pooled in the Southeast Asian region with host country Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar. Guam finished tied for second place based on points. Aubrienne Pangindian had the Golden Boot for Guam, scoring three times in the tournament – twice against host country Vietnam in Guam’s 2-1 win, and once against the Philippines in Guam’s 4-0 win. Colleen Naden, Skyylerblu Johnson and Yae Kawauchi also scored in the game against the Philippines and Caylani Estoy scored Guam’s lone goal in the team’s 1-0 victory over Cambodia. All girls are returning for this year’s team.
“I believe we’ve all matured and grown as a team,” Johnson, team captain, said. “The older girls on the team – we’ve been playing on the same team for a while. We have a strong chemistry that I don’t think many other teams will have.
“We will be playing against some tough teams again this year – I want the team to put a lot of heart into playing at every game and enter the field each time with a winning mentality. We want to give the other teams something to remember us by – we may be from a small island, but we hope to shock some teams by showing them what we’re made of,” added the 13-year-old student at Luis P. Untalan Middle School.
This year, Guam has been pooled in East Asia’s Group A with China P.R., Korea Republic and the Northern Mariana Islands. DPR Korea, Chinese Taipei and Japan have been pooled into Group B. The top two teams from each group will face off in a semifinal round before moving on to determine the regional champions.
Of the 18 girls on the traveling team, 14 are returning from last year. Returning players are Johnson, Pangindian, Naden, Kawauchi, Estoy, Faith Acfalle, Brianne Leon Guerrero, Tiffani Lopez, Brittany Meno, Rhiannon Pangindian, Randi Jo Paulino, Shania Spindel, Tara Usita-Lee, and Sabrina Wiegand. New to the team this year are Ariya Cruz, Sina Elizabeth Eisenhardt, Megan Hawes and Sabrina Kenney. Eisenhardt and Kenney, two of the new, younger girls on the squad matriculated onto the national team from the U12 division of the GFA National Academy. Estoy and Usita-Lee are the team’s goalkeepers. Also traveling with the team are assistant coaches Ashley Besagar and Kim Sherman, as well as team manager, Lucy Johnson.
The team leaves to China Sunday and will play its first match June 4 against Korea Republic. The team will play the following day against NMI and then again June 6 against China P.R.
The playoffs will begin June 7, with the championship match scheduled for June 9.