Courtesy: Central Jersey/The Princeton PacketWEST WINDSOR: Duo part of futsal championsCarlen, Tampellini share in national soccer titleFriday, July 20, 2012
by Justin Feil
A pretty good year just got even better for Kayla Carlen and Julia Tampellini.
They finished their sophomore academic year as part of the first West Windsor-Plainsboro High North girls lacrosse team to win a Mercer County Tournament championship.
Two months later, they’ve made history at a much higher level as part of the first Hibernian Club soccer team to win a national title. The two were part of the Hibernian Fusion that won the U.S. Under-16 National Futsal Championship in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday.
”It feels amazing,” Carlen said. “We’ve come so far since the beginning. When we started our first tournament, nobody knew what they were doing. We came together as a team and learned to work together. It’s been an amazing feeling.”
The team boarded a plane to return home Tuesday still beaming proudly while wearing the medals and T-shirts they were awarded for their triumph. Being a national champion was just beginning to sink in 48 hours after the 2-1 title win over two-time defending national champion LaRoca of Utah.
”It’s awesome,” Tampellini said. “Coming out here, I was not expecting to win. The teams we played in regionals had been difficult. A lot of them practice all year. We just picked it up in the winter. I was expecting to see some ridiculous teams, and we did, but we pulled through.”
Their run began with a confidence building win over LaRoca. It was an indication that the Hibernian team was a serious contender.
”The first win got the momentum going,” Tampellini said. “It hit us that it was a goal we could attain. It didn’t seem as far fetched.”
Hibernian didn’t know exactly how good of a team they had beaten, 6-4, in the opener.
”We had no idea,” Carlen said. “We found out they were the champions from the last two years before we played them the second time in the actual final.”
To get there, the Fusion crushed Futsal California, 8-0, as both Carlen and Tampellini scored their only goals of the tournament. They defeated Hawaii, 7-1, to advance to the final where they took a 2-0 lead over the Utah contingent before holding on for the 2-1 victory.
”It was completely tight, that’s the only way to describe it,” Tampellini said. “Our goalie made two penalty kick goals that kept us in the game. If they scored those, we could have lost.”
Instead, the Hibernian players enjoyed a celebratory dinner together and went to an indoor trampoline park, still euphoric from the victory.
”It’s one of those feelings of just winning,” Tampellini said. “I kind of like that.”
Carlen and Tampellini were the lone Packet-area players on the futsal team. They were joined by a collection of talent that plays for the Hibernian travel team through most of the year. This year, they decided to take up futsal, which is played with a goalie and four field players.
The Hibernian team featured Carlen and Tampellini of WW-P North, Sammi Barlow of Hamilton, Darah Wagner and Kristina Ragolia of Steinert, Rachelle Ross, Joan Logan, Emily Vogel, Courtney Bennett and Cagnie Antczak. Tom Bayless and assistant Mike Antczak coached the team. It’s quite a collection of talent with players like Bennett, the goalie, coming from Pennsylvania and Ross, one of the team’s top goal scorers, coming from Lenape, but it took time to pull it all together. It was their first year with this particular collection of players.
”Our first tournament, no one really knew what we were doing,” Carlen said. “We had a couple practices. We won our first tournament, and they told us we were going to go to California. We realized we were good enough to do this and realized we can play against these high level teams. We knew we could pull together and do great things.
”It was really a huge team effort,” she added. “Everyone was using their strengths. We knew what everyone’s weaknesses were. We knew where to put people so we could work together.”
Barlow and Ross were the top scorers for the Fusion, while Tampellini and Carlen, who both play wide midfielders for WW-P North, provided solid all-around play. They had helped the team win their final travel tournament in Fort Dix, then picked up momentum through the winter and spring in futsal.
The Hibernian squad was runner-up in the state tournament, and runner-up in the regional tournament, both finishes good enough to advance them to the next level. When they needed their best, they got it to put together an unbeaten ride to the national crown.
”We are a game by game team,” Carlen said. “Once we win one, we look to the next one. We realized what did work and what didn’t work. Through our games, we realized what we should work on and we built up so much momentum and won the whole thing.”
Both would like to experience the same success with Kevin Mackenzie’s WW-P North side this coming fall. Both will be integral parts of the Knights, and they come into the year with plenty of confidence after earning a futsal championship.
”Futsal is a great sport to learn how to move the ball around well and have great touches,” Carlen said. “I’m really excited and I know Julia is too to bring our experience from the tournaments we’ve been doing. We’re ready for the high school season.”
The two would like nothing more than to keep the winning coming when they open the high school season in September, though it’s going to be hard to top Sunday’s win.
”This is the best I’ve ever done,” Tampellini said. “For travel, we participate in the State Cup. We haven’t won it, but we came close. Right now, we’re third in the state. It’s the same Hibernian Fusion team.”
Forever, the two from WW-P North will be able to show that they were a part of the first Hibernian team to make history with a national championship.
”It’s a crazy feeling,” Carlen said. “Even after we played the game, we got the medals, we took photos, everyone couldn’t believe we really did this. We won the whole thing. We’re still in shock. Everyone is so proud of each other. Our coaches are proud of us. We want to continue on next year and hopefully keep our title.”
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari