Back four more: Jacksonville FC girls soccer team ready for national semifinal shot

U14 squad is in ECNL final four, eyes shot at championship this weekend

The Jacksonville FC U14 girls soccer team will play in the ECNL national semifinals this weekend in Richmond. (Justin Barney, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They’re still standing tall.

The Jacksonville FC U14 girls soccer team is one of the final four teams standing in the ECNL national playoffs.

Win on Saturday and play for a championship on Sunday.

Coach Brad Schmidt said that the goal was to always make it to Richmond for a shot at a title in arguably the most competitive league in the country, but so many things had to go its way to get here.

“I think everybody would have been pretty happy [back when the season started to get here],” Schmidt said. “But now that we’re here, we might as well go win the whole thing. It’s been kind of a surreal year. We’re excited to see how far we take it.”

JFC went through the national tournament with a 4-0 mark, which sent the U14 squad on to Richmond for this weekend’s semifinals.

JFC faces the So Cal Blues SC on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Should it win that game, JFC would meet the winner of the LAFC Slammers/Solar SC game in Sunday’s 11:30 a.m. national title game.

In the national tournament earlier this month, JFC beat the Minnesota Thunder 5-3 in their opener, beat Eagles SC 5-1 and atoned for a regular season loss to PDA Blue with a 3-0 win. Defense ruled in the knockout round, where JFC beat the Indiana Fire 5-4 in PKs to get into the final four.

“You’re also like, what’s next, how do we bring this trophy back to our club,” said forward Abigail Wooten. “It’s going to be a really special experience for all of us [this weekend]. So, I think it was really exciting, but same time it was nerve wracking [in the last game].”

Forward Taliah Brooks said that she wasn’t sure how things would play out this year because of how many new faces were apart of it.

“I was so nervous because it was a new team and people were coming from different places,” she said. “But I think over time, this is probably like one of the best teams I’ve ever been with. … I’m just really happy that we got to make it this far because this could be a one time thing.”

Schmidt echoed that and said that the cohesiveness of this club has been unmatched.

“The majority of the players came from two clubs, and we had three players that came in from out of town, one from the Texas area, one from Southern California and one from the Atlanta area,” he said. “You know, that’s a testament to the girls. Having coached 13-14- year-old girls, they’re not always the nicest with each other. But this group has really kind of come together. I think the training environments been really good, they’ve all pushed each other.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.