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Goal! Santa Barbara United Girls Soccer Team Wins Norway Cup

The players post yet another shutout, and Michelle Goss is named tournament MVP.

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Members of the Santa Barbara United 14-under girls soccer team celebrate their championship victory in the Norway Cup on Friday. (Gabe Rocha photo)

[Editor’s Note: Santa Barbara United, a soccer organization of 12- to 14-year-old girls, is the only U.S. team to enter the world’s largest youth soccer tournament, the Norway Cup. Thirteen girls from Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria are in Norway until Saturday. Here, a parent reports on the team’s victory in the finals. Continue to check Noozhawk and www.sb-united.com for team updates.]

We did it!

Santa Barbara United beat the Hoybr/Stavn (near Oslo) 2-0, another shutout, to win the Norway Cup in front of a crowd of maybe 1,000 with U.S. and Norwegian flags waving and cheers in every language imaginable. With the team’s superb defense and magnificent goalie, our forwards were able to advance the ball against the fastest team we played in the tournament.

After marching in with U.S. flags waving, each player’s name was announced as she she stepped out of line to be acknowledged. The Norwegian and U.S. teams shook hands and the game began.

It took a bit for the girls to settle down, but soon they were playing their passing game. For all the girls, this was the first time to play a final tournament game before such a large crowd, not to mention in a country so far from home.

Joining the team parents cheering on our team were several new friends from Lillehammer and Hamar, as well as the friends on the Kenyan and other Norwegian teams. The spirit of friendship and international goodwill woven into the fabric of this tournament brought tears to all of our eyes from the beginning to the end of the tournament. The future is in good hands with these young people.

In addition to the team bringing home the Norway Cup, Michelle Goss was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award in the under-13 class. Goss played center forward and was responsible for many of United’s goals throughout the week.

On Saturday, the team heads in different directions, some home to Santa Barbara, some to other parts of the United States or Europe. All will carry with them memories for a lifetime of competition grounded in the spirit of “fair play” and mutual respect.

Thank you to Santa Barbara AYSO, our friends, supporters and family who made it possible for us to enter the Norway Cup 2008. We trust we have made you proud.

Melinda Staveley is a Santa Barbara United grandparent.

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