Outlaws soccer goes international


Last updated 8/29/2023 at 10:40am

Photo provided

The Oregon Outlaws with the Ugandan boys team. The Oregon Outlaws had an exceptional opportunity to connect with others who love the game from around the world.

For the first time in Sisters High School (SHS) history, a team traveled abroad to compete in an international tournament. The girls soccer team, dubbed the Oregon Outlaws, traveled to Hamburg, Germany to compete in the Laola Cup, held July 24-27. The annual event was put on by Ballfruende, who organize 30 different sporting tournaments throughout Europe every year.

Twenty-two countries, including Iceland, Ireland, Poland, Finland, England, Sweden, China, Canada, USA, Gambia, and Uganda were represented, and over 200 teams, both boys and girls, were in attendance.

The Oregon Outlaws brought 15 players, including Josie Patton, Sage and Shae Wyland, Marley Holden, Izzy Schiller, Lilly Sundstrom, Juhree Kizziar, Maggie Lutz, Ella Davis, Zoee Bafford, Ella Eby, Rylie Bick, Tallis Grummer, Ava Riehle, and Jordan Velikonia, to the tournament. With the addition of parents and siblings, 38 people from Sisters attended the event. Becca Clausen, a foreign exchange student at SHS this past year, lives in Hamburg and joined the Outlaws' team. Clausen, along with her parents, met the Sisters entourage at the airport, and welcomed them to Germany.

The tournament kicked off with opening ceremonies on July 24. An announcer stood in the middle of the field, and as each country was announced, teams from that country paraded in, holding their flag and chanting and cheering. As teams entered they made a huge circle around the announcer, and welcomed each other in celebration of the 2023 Laola Cup.

Games began the following day. The Oregon Outlaws' bracket consisted of six teams: Poland, England, Finland, two teams from Germany (JFV Germany and FC Reinbach), and the Outlaws. The Outlaws opened play against Poland and England. The Poland team carried a U17 national team captain on their squad, and England entered as an open division, which included a 27-year-old that won the Women's Premier title with Leicester City.

The Oregon Outlaws went into the tournament with their 4-5-1 formation from last year - a very defensive formation with a breakout attack - which proved to be unsuccessful in both games.

Although it was a rough run, the Outlaws made a very special bond with the team from England.

Coach Brian Holden said, "The bond they formed with England during that game lasted the entire tournament. They supported each other while they played, ate dinners together, exchanged Snapchat and Instagram accounts, and bantered back and forth."

After the Outlaws' tough games against England and Poland, Holden knew he needed to do something different on day two.

"We decided as a team to change our lineup and our formation," said Holden. "We faced two German teams and walked away with success, wins, and goal-differential, which allowed us to advance on day three. Whatever points a team accumulates on day one and day two seeds you for what place you play for on the third and final day.

"The momentum that the girls gained on day two built confidence, offensive attack, and team unity," said Holden. "That momentum propelled them into a game to compete for third place."

At the start of the third day the Outlaws faced Finland. The Outlaws needed to tie or win the game to advance, and Finland had to get the win to advance to a third- or fourth-place finish.

The Oregon Outlaws dominated offensively, with little pressure on the defense, and even without finding the net they advanced with a 0-0 tie.

The Outlaws then faced JFV Germany in their final game. They scored within the first five minutes of play and ended the half with an additional goal to go up 2-0. The Outlaws added a goal in the second half, and posted a 3-0 shutout for the third-place finish.

At the close of the tournament teams gathered for the Awards Ceremony.

When it was time for third place to be awarded, the announcer, with a thick German accent, said, "For third place, coming all the way from the USA, Sisters, Oregon!"

The crowd cheered and shouted "USA, USA," as they approached the podium, and then the announcer said, "Come on, show us how you celebrate this in US. This is your moment."

In a traditional European celebration, the girls held hands, lowered the cup in unity, and then hoisted it above their heads chanting "USA, USA, USA," along with all the other countries.

Holden said, "Never have these girls celebrated with this tradition. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable experience for all of us."

Senior Maggie Lutz, who has been out for two years due to injury, shared her highlight of the trip.

"It was amazing to be able to play again in a new position as holding midfielder," said Lutz. "The highlight of the tournament to me was winning third place. It was the best we had played the whole tournament. I've had medals before, but I've never hoisted a cup. It was absolutely exhilarating."

Teams did get some downtime, and the Outlaws and England decided to combine and play a friendly game against the African refugees who have now settled in Hamburg. The refugees couldn't afford to play in the actual tournament, so coaches and teams collaborated in a friendly experience.

The Holdens told The Nugget there were many memorable cultural moments, but a couple really stood out as highlights.

"Athletes from different countries celebrate each other's successes and playing style, and one that really stood out was the Gambian boys U15 team (BK West)," said Coach Holden. "Those boys had incredible footwork, and dynamic attack. They were so talented and gifted with the ball, and they really celebrated. When they scored, multiple people flooded the field in celebration of that single goal, and their coach raced up and down the sideline shaking water on all the fans. It took several minutes to clear the field so play could continue."

After their game against Iceland, the Gambian team encouraged the Outlaws to join them for their team pictures. They huddled together and then chanted "BK West, BK West," followed by "US-AA, US-AA!"

Holden explained, "What that meant was, one sport, one world. It was bigger than the game. It was about bringing people together no matter your skin color, your religion, your race, your country, or your socioeconomic level. It was an amazing experience."

Several parents and siblings came along on the trip for the special event, and a few parents shared their thoughts with The Nugget.

Tammy Bick said, "What a grand opportunity to experience the Laola Cup in Germany as a family. The tournament allowed young players to truly share a diverse experience of matches and it fostered new friendships. The Outlaws maintained supreme sportsmanship on and off the field. Lifelong created memories of team bonding, international friendships, and well-played matches are what this parent appreciates. Thank you to Coach Brian for your vision of an awesome team-bonding experience first and some great soccer matches second. Also, thank you to Julie (Holden) for countless hours helping the Lady Outlaws earn dollars to attend, while giving back to our local soccer community. The Holdens continue to coach up these players to be the best version of themselves locally and now internationally."

Photo provided

The Sisters girls after winning the game for third place.

Jennifer Wyland said, "The entire experience was unforgettable! Watching teams from all over the world come together to compete for the love of the game! The Sisters girls represented their community and their country with integrity, spirit, and sportsmanship. With every match they played they upped their game. By the last game they were on fire! I hope this is the start of a new tradition for the Sisters soccer program."

The experience in itself was incredible, but it looks like it doesn't end there.

Coach Holden explained, "This experience has generated an international interest to come to Sisters! The Uganda U10 boys and the Gambian (BK West) boys want to come to Sisters and play in a tournament next summer. In addition, the English women, Stamford AFC, hope to come to Sisters next summer and host a clinic in collaboration with the SHS girls soccer team, which will also include exhibition games."


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https://www.nuggetnews.com/home/cms Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024