The U16 girls CASL Spartan Elite Black soccer team claimed the national championship of the Elite Clubs National League on Saturday, defeating Real So Cal (California) in the final 4-1.
Forward Paige Reckert, a rising junior at Apex High, had a hat trick in the final, and Joanna Boyles, a rising junior at Sanderson High, scored the team's other goal.
"I couldn't tell you the last time I had a hat trick," Reckert said. "My teammates set me up perfectly. I couldn't have done it without them."
The victory completed a three-day tournament in Aurora, Colo., in which Spartan Elite Black defeated its three opponents by a total of 11-5. The eight teams in the tournament were selected after finishing at the top of a 26-team league that started play in December.
The CASL team, coached by Damon Nahas, finished the regular season in third place with eight wins, one loss and three ties. The only loss came in December in a match that was played in the snow.
"Last year we fell short in the semifinals, and we wanted to get revenge this year and come back and show what we had," Reckert said. "Holding up the trophy was the best feeling ever. ... I'm still in shock."
The team won't have too much time to bask in the glory of its championship. Spartan Elite Black will move up to the U17 division of the ECNL, which starts play next month.
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