- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The Colorado Springs Pride Under-15 girls team is about to do what no soccer club in the state within its classification has done.

The Predator ‘99 squad became the first to claim a National League title back in March. After that, they cemented the first regional victory (Region 4) in state history in Albuquerque in June. Now, they’ll become the first soccer team (boys or girls) to represent Colorado Springs in the national championship tournament.

“This is a really special group of girls that we’ve got on our hands,” coach Sian Hudson said. “They have put in the work and it’s paying off. To become the first in Colorado to do it means something to them and they’re excited about what’s to come.”

The Predator ‘99 team punched its ticket to the national championship in Washington, D.C., twice by winning both their national competition in Raleigh, North Carolina, and again last month at the regional tournament.

The team got a taste at elite competition in March, facing some of the top teams in the nation. Colorado Springs bounced back from being down a goal each to both Beach FC (Long Beach, California) and La Roca (Utah) for comeback wins that secured its spot in the national tournament spanning from Tuesday through July 27.

“They’re both pretty big accomplishments. If I had to say, I think the nationals win in March might have been a bit bigger only because of the other teams they had to face,” Hudson said. “They’ve had a tremendous amount of success and are ready to keep it going.”

Hudson has been with the Pride soccer club for 13 years. She began coaching the Predator ‘99 club more than four years ago when the original members played on the U11 team.

“There’s definitely a level of excitement. For the most part, we have a lot of the original members and it’s been really special to watch this group of girls grow,” Hudson said.

According to Hudson, the goal running through the team is to make the tournament’s final round. To do so, the Predator ‘99 will have to be within the top two teams among their pool, which includes No. 1 YMS (Pennsylvania), Top Hat (Georgia) and Futura (Tennessee.).

Although, the Predator ‘99 club wouldn’t mind making another first in the state record books.

“That’s more on the realistic side. But with the drive they have, I wouldn’t be shocked if they came home with it all,” Hudson said. “Obviously, we want to go out there and do well. On the other end, there’s nothing telling us that we can’t win this thing.”

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Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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