Both Real Salt Lake (RSL) girls club soccer teams heading to Dallas this week for the national tournament have “Southern AZ” in their title, which is a true indicator of this region they are representing.
The RSL-AZ Southern AZ 06 team, comprised of 16-and-under players, has high school players ranging from the far northwest side of Tucson (Ironwood Ridge) to the southside (Sunnyside). Players are also from Sierra Vista (Buena), Sahuarita (Walden Grove) and Vail (Cienega).
“It’s atypical, first of all,” RSL Southern AZ 06 and 08 coach Paul DesRosier said of the roster’s diversity. “These girls have created a culture. Girls as far away as Safford and Thatcher or Sierra Vista want to be part of the group. That’s what they bring to the table on a daily basis.
“When you go and compete and it isn’t just the foothills or Oro Valley per se, it’s a true representation of Pima County, of Southern Arizona — outside of Pima County — that makes it more exciting to be quite honest with you.”
The RSL-AZ Southern AZ 06 (16U) and 08 (14U) teams emerged as regional champions last month after completing their last games of the Developmental Player League season.
As the regional champions, the teams qualified for the DPL national championship tournament at MoneyGram Soccer Park at Dallas from Tuesday through Sunday.
— Emma Beach (@Emma_Beach_2024) June 20, 2022
Both teams will start with group play Tuesday.
The 14U team will play in Group D and open against Massachusetts NEFC NS Girls 2008 on Tuesday at 6 a.m., Tucson time.
The 16U team will play in Group C and begin against Inter Atlanta FC Blues 06 on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The teams departed for the 955-mile drive from Tucson to Dallas on a charter bus at 11 p.m. Sunday.
“More of the team bonding and being with each other, and just trying to win nationals,” RSL-AZ Southern AZ 08 goaltender Ani Jimenez (bound for Salpointe) said about what she looks forward the most at Dallas.
“Being with each other, helping each other through the tough times and having a good time,” defender Mia Miranda (incoming Walden Grove freshman) said.
The array of talent from all over Southern Arizona is also indicative of how soccer continues to robustly develop in this area.
Four players are from two-time state championship teams at Salpointe coached by Kelly Pierce, who is again coaching the FC Tucson Women this summer.
The Lancers with the RSL-AZ Southern AZ 06 team are midfielder Anjeli DesRosier, defender Cyvia Jimenez (Ani’s sister), midfielder/defender Shelby Conway and goalie Elena Kight.
“We’re definitely the underdogs going into something like nationals,” said Anjeli DesRosier, Paul’s daughter. “We have a really diverse team. We’re spread out from all over Tucson. It’s a lot of talent combined into one. It’s a good environment. We’re a really good team.”
Also on the team are two players from Sunnyside’s program that is trying to develop into a championship-level operation under coach Joshua Burton, who was 2-8 in his first season two years ago and 6-10 this season.
The Sunnyside players on the RSL-AZ Southern AZ 06 team are forward Ashley Martinez-Carrillo and midfielder/defender Lita Carlos.
“It definitely says we’re trying to build something for our school and trying to get more people from different places who are more experienced to build our reputation,” Carlos said about Sunnyside.
The RSL-AZ Southern AZ 08 team also has two players from the Sunnyside School District — midfielder Ximena Peralta and defender/forward Brindisi Pickett — who attend Lauffer Middle School.
One of the top players for the 08 team is midfielder/forward Jhianae DesRosier, who will join her sister at Salpointe in the fall.
Another unique aspect of both teams is the family bond that includes the DesRosiers, the Jimenez sisters, and the Ramos sisters (Hannah and Hazel) who are both part of the 06 team. Hannah attends Cienega and Hazel is playing up an age group, recently promoting from Rincon Vista Middle School in the Vail School District.
“I’m really glad because if I’m going to Dallas at all, I’m going with my teammates,” Jhianae said. “We’ve gone to some other states but I’m really excited about going with them to this one and enjoying the experience and hopefully get another title.”
The 06 and 08 teams reached the national championship tournament by virtue of capturing their respective regional championships that were determined by their standing in the Development Player League’s Mountain West Division.
They were a combined 19-1-1. The 06 team finished 9-1-1 and the 08 team went unbeaten at 10-0-1.
“We train hard,” said Paul DesRosier about the high level of success against teams from Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. “They support each other. Maybe some good coaching in there but the reality is any group like these two teams that have a record like that, it really boils down to excellent players.
“They’re committed. They’re intelligent. They’re coachable. Obviously they’ve bought into our long vision — where are we now? Where are we going from a tactical standpoint, from a physical standpoint, from a maturity standpoint? … How does the team want to play? They’ve all bought into the culture that they’ve created, which is the most powerful part.”
RSL-AZ Southern AZ 08 Girls RSLAZ Southern DesRosier DPL/SCNSL
Finished 10-0-1 and outscored opponents 45-5 during the season that started in September.
“We have to know we’re going to play hard competition so we have to try our best,” said midfielder/forward Alexa Romero, who is in her fourth year in the RSL-AZ Southern AZ program and is bound for Mica Mountain.
Of the high expectations of the group after an unbeaten regular season, Romero said, “It makes us want to work harder to show that we can win (nationals). It makes us want to work hard to show what we can do.”
- Annabelle Accetta
- Madyn Allan
- Ximena Peralta-Ceja
- Jhianae DesRosier
- Zoey Gist
- Natalia Hoerig
- Alicia Jauregi
- Ani Jimenez
- Luz Mendoza
- Mia Miranda
- Chloe Peters
- Brindisi Pickett
- Ava Rayman
- Alexa Romero
- Kassidy Sherfield
- Sydney Smith
- Mandy Tran
- Keeley Moran
- Madison Vigil
RSL-AZ Southern AZ 06 Girls RSLAZ Southern DesRosier DPL/SCNSL
Went 9-1-1 and outscored opponents 47-9 during the regional-season schedule.
“I’m really excited, honestly. (Playing in nationals) is something different. It’s something good for our girls because they’ve worked their butts off to get to where we’re at,” Carlos said. “Not only as a whole team, but as individual players, we’ve given 100 percent. So I think we need to go show that we’re a good team and we want it more than other people.”
- Elise Ala (Cienega)
- Emma Beach (Ironwood Ridge)
- Magot Blodgett (Ironwood Ridge)
- Angelita Carlos (Sunnyside)
- Ashley Martinez-Carrillo (Sunnyside)
- Shelby Conway (Salpointe)
- Brianna Corcoran (Pusch Ridge)
- Anjeli DesRosier (Salpointe)
- Nadia Gutierrez (Ironwood Ridge)
- Cyvia Jimenez (Salpointe)
- Cayla Jones (Cienega)
- Elena Kight (Salpointe)
- Gabrielle Mendoza-Trejo (Tucson High)
- Savannah Michel (Walden Grove)
- Adrian Moncrief (Catalina Foothills)
- Kayla Poncavage (Ironwood Ridge)
- Katherine Presnall (Buena)
- Hannah Ramos (Cienega)
- Hazel Ramos
- Vivien Villarreal
AllSportsTucson.com will provide updates of both teams in Dallas starting with their group play Tuesday.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.