Two Eagles Win State Soccer Championship With Travel Squad
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
By Emma Duncan--Eagle Staff Writer
Two small-town soccer players just made statewide history.
Senior Maddy Chitwood and sophomore Sayda Rojas-Campbell helped lead their soccer team, Valley United, to become Virginia President’s Cup State Champions.
“This was our first time participating in the President's Cup, so winning the whole thing was a pretty big deal,” head coach Cory Carroll explained.
The President’s Cup was played in Fredericksburg at the Virginia Soccer Training Center. Fifteen games were played over the course of three weeks (Oct. 26-Nov. 8).
“We played a total of 4 teams: Culpeper, Vista Freedom FC Elite, Virginia Rush, and McClean,” Rojas-Campbell said.
Participating in the President’s Cup was a highlight of Rojas-Campbell’s ongoing soccer career, but this journey started several years ago.
“I've been playing soccer for 4 years now,” she stated. “I started playing because my sisters and brother were playing, and I thought that looked fun. I gave it a shot and loved it.”
Rojas-Campbell ended up loving soccer so much that she continued to play all throughout middle school, and now for the Eagle Varsity team.
“I played on the middle school team in 7th grade, in 8th grade I was on the JV team, and as a freshman I played on the varsity team,” she explained.
Alongside school soccer, she also started playing travel ball for Valley United this past year.
“Sayda is a naturally left footed player, who’s growing into her role on the field," Carroll began. "She’s dedicated, disciplined, and works hard to be better every session. I’m looking forward to continuing to coach Sayda and watch her develop.”
Carroll went on to describe Rojas-Campbell’s key play in the President’s Cup game, and how proud of her he was. Rojas-Campbell also sounded proud of herself.
“All the games were special to me,” she explained. “It was an honor to be able to play with players who are skilled and talented. My most memorable moment was when I had the assist on the winning goal. It was a 50/50 ball, and I moved in front of a girl on the other team and flicked the ball with my head to my teammate who scored the winning goal in the Championship.”
Rojas-Campbell hopes her soccer career will continue, and she is already considering which college she wants to play for.
“I'm still looking around at different colleges, but so far I like Longwood University. Travel soccer and my coach, Corey, are helping me become a better player so I can play college soccer,” Rojas-Campbell said.
Fellow teammate Chitwood had been considering different colleges for some time, but she recently decided where she’s going to play.
“I am committed to the University of Lynchburg to continue my soccer career,” Chitwood said.
She thinks being a state champion will help her when she goes to college because not many people have that title.
“Being a state champion is a really cool feeling. This has been a goal of mine, and it finally came true,” Chitwood explained. “Some of the best players in the world have never gotten the opportunity to win a state championship, so this is something I can tell people.”
The championship stood to Chitwood out not only because her team won, but also because many people doubted Valley United would make it past the first round.
“We came into the tournament very underestimated,” she stated. “Nobody thought we would win the championship game. We heard the other team’s parents say, ‘How did this team even make it this far?’ This really fueled my team to show them why. We may just be a team from Roanoke, but we came to win.”
The team stayed undefeated throughout the entire tournament.
“We won our first game 7-1,” Chitwood began. “Our second game was much harder. We finished the first 90 minute in a 2-2 draw. We went into two, 15-minute overtimes, and the score was still 2-2 (afterward). This meant we had to go into pk’s (penalty kicks). As a goalkeeper, a lot of pressure was on me. I saved the first two shots, and we went on to win the game with a 4-2 win in pk’s. We won the championship game 1-0.”
These blocks weren’t Chitwood’s only notable plays.
“My favorite play I made was a punch out on a corner kick,” she said.
Overall, Carroll has been impressed with Chitwood’s progress. This feeling only grew after the President’s Cup.
“Maddy is fierce, hardworking and determined to be the best goalkeeper she can be,” he stated. “To be able to play with some of the best teams in the state and be competitive will really help for the future.”
For statistics from Rojas-Campbell's and Chitwood’s games, visit the 2020 Fall President's Cup 18U/19 Girls Bracket.