LAKEWOOD RANCH — With each competitive season, the Braden River Soccer Club U14 girls maroon team has learned to accept — and at times even expect — the unexpected.
In the past four years, the 15 members of the Braden River Rage posted a 92-22-17 record, won a number of tournament titles — including two D-1 Region C titles and two Orange Classic Premier titles — and advanced to the great eight of the State Cup.
Most recently, the girls were one of four teams selected to represent the state of Florida in the Region 3 Premier League — becoming the first team in Manatee or Sarasota to be selected for the prestigious league.
The Rage applied for the Region 3 Premier League, comprising of the top teams in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida based on their overall records, late last year. And in early December the girls learned they had been selected.
“It was an honor because you have to work hard enough to get into the league,” 13-year-old Brianna Reda said. “It’s the best league you can actually reach.”
The Rage coaching staff surprised the girls with balloons and a cake to celebrate the accomplishment. But it wasn’t until the girls actually began practicing for the Region 3 Premier League that they finally began to realize they were right where they belonged.
“It’s a funny group (this team) because they’re always surprised by their success and their rank,” coach Chuck Reda said. “This team never realizes they are as good as they are. They always think, ‘Do we really belong here?’
“They’re the only team to do this,” he said. “They have a sort of nervous energy about them, but (some of) these are teams they’ve played before. They’re just under the microscope a lot more (now).”
Braden River opened Region 3 Premier League play Feb. 13-14 with a 1-0-2 record. Ranked No. 2 in the state, the Rage defeated West Pines 1-0 and tied Krush (Orlando) 2-2 and top-ranked East Lake 0-0.
This past weekend, the girls continued league play, posting a 1-0-1 record, tying North Carolina’s CSA Predator G 1-1 Feb. 27 and defeating Georgia’s Tophat 14 Gold 1-0 Feb. 28.
“We play well when we play as a team,” Brianna Reda said. “From day one we’ve always had to work her hard.”
Her teammate Morgan Kuntor agreed.
“When we all give effort we play well,” she said. “We just have to practice really hard because we (have) the knowledge of the game.”
The girls will return to action March 6-7 and will continue Region 3 Premier League play through May 2.
The majority of the Rage have been playing together since U9, when they began playing competitive soccer. However, some of the players have been teammates since they began playing recreational soccer.
The team only practices twice a week, but with each practice the girls’ skill level continued to intensify, impressing both their coaches and themselves.
“They’re all so different, but they all get along,” team manager Karin Guida said. “They have fun, but at the same time it’s total seriousness. You work hard when you’re (at practice). They take it really serious, but we always tell them, ‘As long as you’re giving it you’re all, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose.’”
Chuck Reda agreed.
“Their skill level is tremendous for their age,” he said. “It’s a bunch of girls that play great soccer together. Every player is a good solid player, and I feel very happy for them because they’ve earned everything they’ve received.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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