The 16 teens who play for the MVLA Lightning Under-16 girls team from Los Altos, Calif., had a ritual that they banished last month.
Before every soccer game, they would do yoga.
It was team captain Caitlyn Wongs idea to try the exercise one day, and it caught on as a fun, bonding experience they kept up for a while.
Plus it was good for laughs.
I think Ive witnessed it before, Lightning Coach Erin Montoya said. I dont know if its quite yoga.
The practice faded until this summers regional tournament, when Wong brought it back. But shell never do that again.
The Lightning lost that game 3-0, their first loss in months.
Yoga-free, the Lightning swept the regional tournament and earned a spot in U.S. Youth Soccers national championship competition in Rock Hill this week.
Now, people are scared to try it again, Wong said.
Theyre so superstitious, Montoya said. If one thing works, they have to do it every time.
So far, so good.
The girls won their first match on Wednesday, beating the KCFC Futura Academy team from Kansas City, 1-0.
Its the Lightnings second trip to the national championship. In 2010, the team won the trophy.
Competitors are aiming for them, and the pressure is intense.
We have a target on our back, Wong said.
Im more nervous this time around, said co-captain Hannah Reed.
But the players, most of whom have been playing together since they were 7 years old, are confident in their chemistry.
Were focusing on playing as a team, Reed said.
Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072