Penn FC Youth Lightning are back for one last chance at another national championship but they have even more company looking for hardware this year with three other Penn FC Youth girls teams playing in Orlando.
The Lightning made the final each of the last two years and won the club’s first national championship in 2021. They’ll be joined again by the 2008 girls and the 2005 and 2007 girls have also made the trip.
The Lightning and the 2005 Black team both won state cup titles at HillTop Soccer Complex on June 10 after qualifying for nationals via National League P.R.O. The 2008 Black team also qualified for nationals through National League while 2007 Black won a regional championship in Loudoun County last month to book their ticket to nationals.
”We’re really excited to have four teams in it,” said Bill Becher, the club’s Director of Coaching and head coach of the 2004 and 2005 girls teams. “Three of them had qualified through National League P.R.O. and the 2007s had a really good spring and just got better and better going into regionals so it was good to see.”
In addition to having four teams from the same club - one shy of nearby Keystone FC’s five teams - Penn FC Youth’s teams have a number of siblings playing for more than one team. The Bull, Economopoulos, Maury, Murphy and Swartz families all have at least two players part of the squads in Orlando.
“We do have a very family oriented club,” Becher said.
Erika Murphy and Alex Murphy are among the sister pairings. Alex won the national title with the 2004 group two years ago while Erika guest played for the 2008s. Alex made the Best XI at nationals in 2021 while Erika made it last summer.
“It’s a different experience because I guest played with the 08s but the 07 team is really my family,” Murphy said after winning regionals. “It’s good to see us both in nationals and all of the teams at Penn FC. We have a really good club; we’ve worked really hard and we have the same mentality.”
The Harrisburg area will be especially well represented in Orlando with Keystone FC’s five teams and Iron Valley United also in the tournament field. Eastern Pennsylvania has 21 teams competing (22 qualified but Reading Rage isn’t playing) and 10 hail from within 20 minutes of each other.
The USYS National Championships get started on Tuesday. Each team plays three group games Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Several of the games will be streamed live on Vimeo.