Salvo Navy wins U.S. Club National Cup

Minnesota teams made marks in several prominent national girls soccer tournaments, including two in California and Colorado.

Former Eagan High School coach Bulut Ozturk led a Minnesota Thunder Academy Under-15 team to the Elite Clubs National League Playoffs in San Diego, where MTA won one of three games. Playing goalkeeper for the Thunder was Bayliss Flynn, who will be a ninth-grader at Lakeville North High School in the fall.

Salvo Soccer Club won the U15 girls Super Group at the U.S. Club National Cup XVII Championship, a tournament that featured more than 200 girls and boys teams across a number of age groups. More than half of the Salvo players will be students at Lakeville North, Eagan, Eastview, Farmington and Rosemount high schools.

The Minnesota Thunder Academy team was one of Ozturk’s last assignments before he accepted a position as an assistant women’s soccer coach at the University of Tennessee. Ozturk coached the Eagan girls team for five years (winning three state championships) and the boys team for one season. He also had coached the MTA U15 players for several years.

The Thunder was 13-4-2 against other ECNL competition, won a regular-season ECNL tournament in New Jersey in May, and had a 24-game unbeaten streak against all opponents (the team also played in the Premier division in the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association). They were ranked as high as sixth nationally in their age group.

Although the Thunder went 1-2 in the ECNL playoffs, their victory came against their group champion. The Thunder defeated Richmond United of Virginia 1-0 in their final game June 30 in San Diego. In earlier group play they lost to Connecticut FC 3-0 and Orlando City (Florida) 2-1.

“The quality of competition is so high” in the ECNL playoffs, Ozturk said. “You’ll also see coaches from as many as 100 colleges scouting the tournament. Think of the biggest national AAU tournament there is for basketball – that’s what the ECNL playoffs are like for soccer.”

Most of the Thunder players will be sophomores in high school this fall. Several already have had an impact on varsity teams, and not just in soccer. Edina’s Maddie Dahlien, one of the Thunder’s top forwards, finished second in three sprinting events at the state Class AA track and field meet in June.

Flynn, who was the Thunder team’s youngest player, aims to become a four-sport varsity athlete. She was the Lakeville North cross country team’s top runner at the 2018 Section 1AA meet and plans to continue in that sport while going out for the soccer team. She played junior varsity basketball last school year and is a member of the Panthers’ track and field team.

Flynn was the only player from a South Suburban Conference school on the Thunder U15 team. She is one of the nation’s top-ranked goalkeepers in her age group and recently participated in a soccer camp at Princeton University.

“I think you’ll see a lot of our girls be standout players for their high school varsity teams,” Ozturk said. “Some of them have been contributing players already. Most of them will be going into their second season as varsity players.

“I coached them since they were 12-year-olds. Not only are they really talented, they were willing to take on different roles when we asked them. We tried to instill a team concept, and they really embraced that.”

The Salvo Navy U15 team was 4-0 in the Super Group at the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup in Commerce City, Colorado. Salvo defeated NTH Tophat of Atlanta, Georgia, 1-0 in the championship game July 23. That was Salvo’s second victory of the tournament over NTH Tophat to go with a 4-2 win in pool play.

All Salvo players will be ninth-graders or sophomores this fall. The roster includes outside midfielder Ashley Bennett, outside midfielder Brooke Quam, forward Abby Ruhland, outside back Elaina Shromoff and outside back Alena Tikalsky, all of Lakeville North; center backs Annabelle Abruzzo and Jasmine Haidar, both of Eastview; center midfielder Amelia Theirl of Farmington, center midfielder Lisette Thurman of Rosemount and center midfielder Mara Ganje of Eagan.

The Salvo team’s head coach is Brian Kallman, who played professionally for the Minnesota Thunder, Minnesota Stars and Minnesota United. He is director of the Salvo girls high-performance program and Tuesday was named boys varsity coach at St. Thomas Academy.

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