|Bair led La Rocca to New Heights
By Jason Turner
Sports Writer ~ Herald Journal
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
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