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Stacy BairBair led La Rocca to New Heights

By Jason Turner
Sports Writer ~ Herald Journal

Former Sky View great Stacy Bair has always endeavored to play against the best soccer players in the country and, at the same time, prove athletes from Utah can compete against the elite of the elite.

Bair and her teammates at the Ogden based La Roca Futbol Club certainly achieved that objective during the 2011-12 season.

For starters, La Roca's U18 squad did something no Utah side has done in recent memory - earn a spot in the nation's most elite club tournament, the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, which was held July 25-29 in South Carolina.

La Roca advanced to nationals by beating all comers, including a pair of powerhouse California Programs, at the Region IV Championships, which were held June 18-24 in Phoenix.

"It was awesome," said Bair, who's a striker.  "I mean, (the other teams) just think that we're the small state. ... You just can't underestimate teams. ... Utah is good and we're going to continue to be good."

Bair and company punched their ticket to the four-team national tournament with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Southern California club Beach 93 in the regional championship match.  Bair, a 2012 Sky View graduate, scored the equalizing goal in that game.

La  Roca entered regional - which primarily consists of State Cup championship squads - with plenty of momentum.  After all, La Roca emerged victorious at the Far West Regional League tourney in April in Las Vegas.  La Roca, which has captured five straight Utah State Cup titles, also placed fourth in the Nation League, which is comprised of the best teams in the country.

Bair's La Roca squad was actually featured in a  June 15 article by ESPN.com writer Chris Ackels.

"We've made it to regionals, just not good enough to qualify for nationals," Bair said.  "But we've always been in the National League and have done pretty well there."

La Roca had made it to at least the quarterfinals of the previous three Region IV Championships, but this was the break-through year.  La Roca won its pool with a 2-1 record before beating a Hawaii team 2-0 in the quarters and outlasting nemesis Legends FC of California 2-1 in the semifinals.  Legends FC won the Far West Regional League during the fall of 2011.

Beach 93, the club La Roca beat in the finals, finished second behind La Roca and Legends FC in the previous two Far West Regional Leagues.

Bair scored at least five goals at regionals and was one of the standout players of the tourney.  La Roca was one of only two Utah clubs to win a 2012 region title, joining a U12 Sparta side.  Twelve of the 16 Region IV crowns were claimed by clubs from the Golden State.

The daughter of Janaet and Lynn Bair also played very well at nationals, but it ended up being somewhat of a frustrating experience for La Roca.  La Roca scored first in all three of its matches, but lost them all.

"It was definitely a big deal," said Bair, who scored 77 career prep goals, destroying Sky View's old school record.  "We were all really happy and everything, and we were all excited to be there.  We definitely deserved to be there, I think, because we really were the better team (in all there games), I think.  It's just the last 10-15 minutes of the games just killed us.  That's where we just let down."

La Roca kicked off its experience at nationals with a 4-2 setback to the eventual champion FC Penn Strikers - a team La Roca beat during a December of 2011 National League tournament in Atlanta.  Bair score twice in the first half, giving her side a 2-1 lead.

Those were the only two goals the Pennsylvania club would allow in the tournament.

La Roca then proceeded to lose one-goal leads in 2-1 and 3-2 losses to clubs from Tennessee and Cincinnati, respectively.  Bair assisted on two of those three goals.

For her efforts, Bair was named one of the11 best players of the tournament - the "Best11" list, which was selected by the coaches.  La Roca midfielder Chansi Crompton also was voted on the 11-player team.

Bair and 12 of her La Roca teammates are currently playing for Weber State.  Wildcats head coach Tim Crompton was also Bair's coach at La Roca.

"I think we did play really good and I'm sad these were the last games I played with my club," Bair said.

Bair currently has her attention focused on helping the Wildcats win the Big Sky conference title.  However Bair - who sprained her ankle in Weber State's season opener - has bigger goals in mind, namely playing professional soccer and competing for the U.S. Nation Team.
Stacy Bair
These are lofty objectives, but Bair has been invited to a National Team pool camp on three occasions.  Indeed, Bair has proven she is one of the best of the best.

"For me, (this club season) was almost surreal," Janet Bair said.  "We were watching the Olympics and the (U.S.) women's soccer team was playing when (Stacy's team) was at nationals.  And it was amazing for me to think, seriously, that one day (Stacy) really could be on the Olympic team.  She's playing at the top level in the nation and she was voted as one of the top 11 players there.  That is huge."


Stacy with her local Soccer Academy team              
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