NORWALK, Conn. – A group of 17 girls has helped make history for the Norwalk-based Beachside Soccer Club.
Beginning Friday, the under-14 team has a chance to add another impressive piece to its collection.
Beachside’s U14 team won the State Cup championship earlier this month to become the club’s first girls team to achieve that distinction. The squad kicks off play in the Region 1 tournament at noon Friday in Lancaster, Pa., against a team from Vermont.
The team includes girls from teams throughout Fairfield and Westchester counties. Girls from Stamford, Fairfield, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Easton, Greenwich, Westport, Darien and Pound Ridge play for Beachside, which is coached by Nathan Riddiough.
“The thing that distinguishes this group is their work ethic,’’ said Riddiough, a former professional player from England who joined Beachside in 2006. “We added 11 new players after getting to the State Cup final last year. They work hard, and they believe in themselves.”
Beachside, which is overseen by Norwalk soccer legend Mickey Kydes, is well known for its boys programs. Three boys teams also will play in the Region 1 tournament. The club has had several close calls but has never won a regional title.
The girls program at Beachside, however, has taken longer to build. The regional berth for Riddiough’s team is a sign the club is headed in the right direction with its girls teams.
“When I joined the program, I told Mickey I wanted to focus on the girls side,’’ Riddiough said. “When we first started we were up against a lot of competition. Over the last three or four years we've really started to improve.”
Riddiough believes the team has a good chance to advance out of pool play. Teams from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania also are in Beachside’s group. The winner from each of the four pools advance to Monday’s semifinals. The championship game is scheduled for Tuesday.
Beachside’s team includes Katie Donovan and Sami Stewart of New Canaan, Heidi Druehl and Rachel Benz of Stamford, Sarah Battipaglia of Ridgefield, Olivia Frzop of Easton, Callie Doyle and Tre Harrisson of Old Greenwich, Clair Yin of Westport, Darien’s Erin Karczewski, Fairfield’s Clare Mengel, Monroe’s Sydney Caparaso, Abbey Saia and Rachel Maile, Milford’s Tiernan McKeown, Milford’s Sarah Haselkamp and Arianna Delli Carpini of Pound Ridge.
“We’ve been able to create a culture at Beachside,’’ Riddiough said. “That’s what’s so unique about this program.”