Kerry Rizza is bursting with pride over the performance of the 14-years-and-under girls soccer team she coached March 28 in a Phoenix-area tournament.
“While the ladies came in fourth at the end, they came in first for attitude and effort,” she said.
Rizza learned of the tournament, called 3V3, about a month before it was to be held and decided to find out more about the format.
“It is a very technical and fast-paced game, so I gathered four Payson girls and one friend from Phoenix,” she said. “We spent two weeks practicing.”
The girls that formed the Payson Power Rangers team were Summer Kelly, Maci Dailey, Natalie Moceri, Tia Blackwell and Taylor Rizza.
Although the team consisted of four 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old, they were pitted against 15- and 16-year-olds in the tournament.
“We were the youngest players in the division,” the coach said.
For the fray, which was held in about 80-degree desert temperatures, the girls played four abbreviated soccer games in about six hours.
During the first game, the Power Rangers battled to a 1-1 tie.
“The tying goal was scored by Taylor Rizza in the second half with a blazing shot over the midfield line,” the coach said.
Next up was a seasoned Phoenix team the Power Rangers lost to by a 3-2 measure.
“Our two goals were scored by Natalie Moceri,” the coach said.
For the third game, Payson lost 4-2 to a Mesa squad.
For Payson, Blackwell and Moceri scored goals.
In the Power Ranger’s tournament finale, Payson battled fatigue, as well as their opponents, on their way to a 4-1 loss.
“The girls were physically drained and mentally exhausted, but ran onto the field with their heads on straight and their hearts in the game,” the coach said.
Following the tournament, Kerry Rizza expressed her gratitude to Challenger Sports for donating team uniforms.
“Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Challenger Sports,” she said.