After coming up short in 2019, the South Jersey team has been working for the past two years to get back to the stage they’re in this week in Florida
When the full time whistle blew on their 8-1 victory in the U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern regional final earlier this month at Tuckahoe Turf Farm, the players on the field for Real Jersey FC’s 2006 girls team barely reacted at first.
Whether it was exhaustion from the heat and humidity or the bigger prize on their minds, their victory that day in New Jersey was the first step toward something they’ve collectively been working toward since two summers ago in Kansas.
Up 1-0 with a chance to advance to the national final as U13s, Real Jersey saw their hopes vanish when the Michigan Jaguars scored two unanswered goals to win the match 2-1. Albion SC ended up beating the Jaguars to win the title the next day.
“We had a lot of disappointments this year with injuries and then last year got taken away from us,” captain Regan O’Shaughnessy after the regional final win. “We’re super excited just to be back.”
With the 2019 national championships canceled for Covid-19 and restrictions in place, head coach Rusty Aaronson said his team went to work and did whatever they could to get games in, often scrimmaging against some of the boys teams in the club.
“It’s a special group; they’ve earned it,” said Aaronson, who is also the club president. “They trained through Covid, they were training inside with masks on just champing at the bit to get back… It’s huge for us to get back-to-back, especially in New Jersey and in the northeast with how many good teams there are.”
Real Jersey’s U15 girls national championship campaign opened on Tuesday at Lakewood Ranch in Florida with a 2-2 draw against Broomfield SC from Colorado. The other match in their bracket also ended in a 2-2 draw so all four teams are even heading into the second group match on Wednesday.
It was one of three games for Real Jersey FC teams on Tuesday. The 2004 boys team, which won the national title in 2019, beat Kansas City Scott Gallagher 2-1 but the 2006 boys team lost a tough one 3-2 to Arlington SA.
A total of 12 teams from Eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey are in the national championships this year. As a collective group, the local teams went 3-8-1 in their first games on Tuesday.
In addition to the Real Jersey 2004 boys team, wins were posted by the Penn FC U17 girls and the Keystone FC U19 girls.
The Real Jersey FC 2006 girls team will have their match on Wednesday against Cincinnati United live streamed at 8 a.m.
Other local teams with matches streaming on Wednesday include Philadelphia SC Coppa U15 girls at 8 a.m., Keystone FC U18 girls at 10 a.m., 1776 United FC Xtreme U19 girls at 10 a.m. and PA Dominion U16 boys, Villanova Soccer Academy/1776 United U14 boys and Real Jersey FC U15 boys at noon.