The Gadsden-area Lady Fusion U-12 01 Black soccer team won the Alabama Youth Soccer Association state championship last weekend in Decatur.
In the championship game against Birmingham Legends, the Lady Fusion took a 2-0 lead into halftime. The Lady Fusion then scored early the second half to go up 3-0. After surrendering a goal midway through the second half, the Lady Fusion added a goal for a 4-1 victory.
Head coach Bruce Williams, who has coached many of the Lady Fusion team members since the U8 age level, pointed to the closeness of the team as a key reason for its success.
“This soccer team, the parents and the players, are like family to me. I care about each one of them as if they were my own. “I remember, in the beginning, a few of them had trouble simply dribbling the ball while simultaneously staying on their feet. It’s been very rewarding watching these girls grow into the amazing athletes that they are today.”
The Lady Fusion opened the tournament on May 3 with a 3-2 win over Briarwood’s Lady Ambassadors.
The Lady Ambassadors netted a goal early in the first half and the score remained 1-0 up until halftime. Lady Fusion then scored shortly after the start of the second half.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Lady Ambassadors scored for 2-1 lead. The Lady Fusion tied the game with five minutes left, and with less than a minute remaining, the Lady Fusion found the back of the net for the win.
Following a rain delay, the Lady Fusion trailed 1-0 in its second game after an early goal by BUSA. The Lady Fusion tied the score at 1-1 before halftime and added a pair of second-half goals to earn a 3-1 victory.
Against Homewood in the third game, Lady Fusion trailed 1-0 before netting a goal shortly before the half. Homewood went up 2-1 in the second half after being awarded a free kick, but the Lady Fusion found the net twice over the final 18 minutes to post a 3-2 victory.
“I have had the honor of being the assistant to Bruce for the last 6-7 seasons, coaching Division 2A soccer,” said Fusion assistant coach Dr. Mike McClellan. “It has been so exciting to watch these young ladies, now U12, who had trouble with even the most basic skills of the game, mature to the young women that I saw play this past weekend. The level at which they played to win the U12 Division 2A State Cup was astounding. I was rewarded as a coach by what I was seeing. The confidence, teamwork and passion they displayed filled me with such a sense of pride at what we as a team and what we accomplished. The best part of the weekend was that in three of the four games, our team came from behind to win. They never gave up. I truly believe the lessons learned on the playing field these several seasons will endure with these ladies for a lifetime. It has been a great honor to play a part in the development of these young women.
“As a parent, I owe a debt of gratitude to Coach Bruce, who in my opinion is a great American,” said Fusion parent Brent Morgan. “He served his country with a call of duty and now he feels the same call to service in his community. Most community volunteers have a son, daughter, family member to coach because they want to coach their own children. Coach Bruce was different; he was of no relation to anyone on the team. Coach Bruce coached because he loved his community and wanted to give back to it. Coach Bruce’s legacy will live long after he is gone in the lives of the young ladies he has helped form.”