Feb 7/8 – U13s National Indoor Finals

The U13s went to the Indoor Finals in Lousada with a young and inexperienced team, with the veterans of 5 campaigns, John, Vicente and Ioio, having all moved up to the U15/18. Nevertheless, three players with U15 experience were able to go with the team, 2 time Dream Team winner Maarten in goal, Casuals’ newcomer Martim and Fleur (captain) in the field. The first game against Viso on the Saturday showed just how little the team had trained together at this level (something to remedy next season) and the slower pace made it difficult for the goalie Maarten to adapt at first. Nevertheless they held their own to be only  0-2 down at the interval. Martim then got a goal back in the last minute to make it 1-2. The second game was against the 3 time winners Lousada, who as expected showed no mercy; but captain Fleur managed to slot in a consolation goal five minutes from the end – result 1-12.

On the Sunday morning, after a well deserved Pizzeria outing the night before, the team came out fighting against Espinho, with Fleur getting her second tournament goal to keep it level pegging at the first half time-out. However, the strength of the Espinho team proved too much and the final result of 1-6 belied the increasing confidence the team was gaining in working the ball up the hall. The final game against, Casa Pia AC, favourites to be the ones to take a championship title off Lousada, showed just how much they had learnt during the tournament (the main purpose of going). Maarten by then had adapted to the conditions of U13 (fewer high balls, less pace) and defended all the attacks tirelessly to help the team hold their long-time hometown rivals to a 0-1 lead right into the fourth period. Casuals threatened to equalise several times but in the end Casa Pia’s greater experience and depth gave them the inevitable win – final score line 3-0 to CPAC. Maarten Green won his third Dream Team place and the Casuals’ coaching staff unanimously voted Karlijn Vorsteveld most promising young player of the tournament.

James Harrison