Abby Fitzmaurice has been a member of the Coppa Rage for three years.
But never has she felt so close to her teammates.
Winning does that.
Fitzmaurice is a center back on the team and during a recent trip to Bradenton, Florida, the squad competed in the United States Soccer National Championship series.
And they finished second in the country.
Playing against the top teams in the nation, the Rage went 4-2 during the trip, and their only losses were twice to the eventual champions, La Roca.
Runner-up is good in anything, but when you’re No. 2 in the country, that’s a heck of an accomplishment.
“It was so much fun, we did a lot of fun things, going to the beach or going to the pool, but this was a trip about soccer and we still had so much fun,” said Fitzmaurice, who served as a captain during one of the games in the U-16 tournament. “The best part was the soccer, but we became so close out here. We’ve always been a close team, but I think winning and working together just made us closer. It was a lot of fun. We didn’t get the job done, but we still had a lot of fun.”
Fitzmaurice, who lives in Morrell Park and attends Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, isn’t correct. Sure, they didn’t win the prestigious tournament, but when you’re competing against the best in the country and you make the championship, that’s a pretty good showing. And she realizes that after seeing how great her team played.
“I think making it this far shows how hard we work and how much we put into this,” Fitzmaurice said. “You play in tournaments like this and you see so many great teams. And then you think that you’re playing there with them. So to finish second isn’t what we wanted, but it is a great accomplishment for all of us.”
The group, which plays out of Philly Soccer, qualified for the tournament in the winter when they won a tournament, which was also in Florida.
Since then, the team has been working hard to prepare for the illustrious tournament. That included two nights a week taking part in team practices, but it didn’t end there.
“We knew this was going to be tough so we worked out hard,” Fitzmaurice said. “We would work out together. A lot of us would meet up and run.
“It was a hard tournament. And it was hot in Florida, but we kind of lucked out and played a lot of our games in the morning, so it wasn’t that bad. But it was a lot hotter than it is in Philly, so that made it tougher.”
The team, which was coached by Tom DeGeorge, the girls soccer coach at Archbishop Wood, consists of the top players from the Philadelphia area.
The team includes Kayla Kulp (William Tennent), Bella Brown (Springside Chestnut Hill), Alexis Ocasio (Neshaminy), Maura Day (Abington), Brigid McDonald (Springside Chestnut Hill), Olivia Linus (Penn Charter), Ava DeGeorge (Wood), Gianna Rivera (Ryan), Taylor Mays (Pennsbury), Mercedez Paino (Neshaminy), Emma Levin (Hatboro-Horsham), Giula Nevtroski (Wood), Kayla Kinniry (Nazareth), Kaylee Bamberger (Council Rock South), Ella McAleer (Council Rock North), Elena Franklin (Springside Chestnut Hill) and Samantha Pastino (Ryan).
For Fitzmaurice, it’s the best of both worlds because she gets to play with a lot of her high school teammates on the team, but she also gets to work with girls she would never play with if it weren’t for this team.
“I love this team, and I think this was the best we ever were,” Fitzmaurice said. “I’ve played with some of these girls forever, but I’ve only been on the team for three years. To be honest, we are a lot better now. We’ve developed as players and we’re closer as a team now. I think we’re playing great together.”
Like most of her teammates, Fitzmaurice is taking a little break from soccer before she gets back to playing high school soccer. Camp starts later this month, but before she starts working out, she’s taking a trip to Aruba with her family.
“I don’t have much planned, I’m just going to relax and have fun,” said Fitzmaurice, who also plays high school basketball. “It will be fun. After that, we’ll be getting ready for high school. I’m excited about that. It was great playing all summer and I think we’re ready for high school.”
But she’s not done playing with this squad. She knows this was a great run, but she also wants to take another step next year.
“We’re going to be back,” Fitzmaurice said. “I think we can win it next year. We just have to want it more. We wanted it this time, but we know what we have to do. I think we can do it. We’re going to get better and we’ll be back.”