A National Championship.
Here’s how it happened:
The team earned a berth in the final round after winning the Region IV Championship in Salt Lake City, UT in June. The trip to Auburndale, Florida — summer thunderstorms, temperatures in the 90s with humidity to match — would be their toughest test yet.
Their first match against Arkansas Comets 04 Navy (AR) remained scoreless until the waning moments of the first half. Evelyn Sandoval scored twice in rapid succession, and Beach carried a 2–0 lead into halftime. Second-half strikes from Camryn Cruz, Erin Hegstrom, and Paradyse Wong put the game away as Sandoval netted a third to complete her hat trick. The final score was 6–0.
Their second match against VAR 04 Rush (VA) began in a similar fashion to the first. The teams went scoreless 0–0 into the interval. Sydney Trump broke the stalemate with a goal in the 56th minute, and Sandoval doubled the lead moments later in the 58th minute — her fourth goal in two games. Cruz put the match to bed with a goal in the 61st as Beach won 3–0.
Afterward, the girls had the privilege of a visit with US Women’s National Team and Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan, who played for Coach Nunes in her club days. Alex knows a thing or two about big moments and the importance of team play, and was generous with her time as she shared with the team. Everyone left with a smile on their face — and maybe a little extra inspiration to fight for the title.
Beach’s third match saw a tight first half against Impact GFC (OH) unlocked in the 35th minute by Hegstrom to make it 1–0. After the break, Beach scored again through Cruz after just two minutes, and marched with a 2–0 win toward Saturday’s final.
One of the most difficult things to do in sports is to beat a good team twice.
That’s exactly what Beach FC G04 Nunes would have to do if they were to be champions. Impact GFC (OH) were their opponents in the final, and wanted payback for the shutout loss a day before.
Impact started on the front foot, and scored in the 30th minute. At halftime, Beach found themselves trailing for the first time all tournament. They were used to playing either tied or ahead — how would they respond to the deficit?
The girls came roaring into the second half.
Within minutes, they had leveled the score 1–1 through a fantastic hit from the top of the box by Paradyse Wong in the 38th. The two teams battled fiercely for the rest of the half, and the match looked destined for extra time.
And then, a bit of quality and magic. Beach attacked down the left side. Emma Saucedo burst past a defender and used her left to clip a ball into the box. Cruz took to the air to collected the service, and her touch laid it off for Liberty-Faith Ortiz. Despite the pressure, Ortiz kept her composure and drilled the ball first-time into the roof of the net — tallying the game-winner, and the tournament-winner, at the death in dramatic fashion.
It was a fitting final high note for a hard-working, determined, fun-loving team who battle every minute of their matches and then all wear Crocs afterward. The champs finished with 13 goals scored, 1 conceded, and countless runs tracked, tackles won, and passes completed.
For her efforts, Evelyn Sandoval earned Best XI and Golden Boot, and was joined in the Best XI by Camryn Cruz.
Congratulations to Coach Eduardo Nunes, and to all the players and families of Beach FC G04 Nunes, for an unforgettable run together.
Once again, Beach Futbol Club is National Champions!