Fossil Ridge's Abby Ballek helps U.S. soccer win under-15 girls CONCACAF Cup

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Abby Ballek, a sophomore-to-be at Fossil Ridge High School, scored four goals in one game and seven in five games to help the United States’ under-15 girls soccer team win the CONCACAF Cup on Sunday in Tampa, Florida.

Ballek, a forward, also had five assists for the Under-15 U.S. Youth National Team in the eight-day tournament at the Hillsborough County Tournament SportsPlex. The United States outscored its opponents 34-1 in its five games, claiming the title with a 4-1 win Sunday over Canada in the title game.

Playing on a U.S. Youth National Team was an “awesome” experience, Ballek said Monday, and an important early step toward her ultimate goal of eventually earning a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team, as Fossil Ridge graduate Sophie Smith has done.

“I feel like that’s a lot of girls’ dreams,” Ballek said. “I was given the opportunity to go forward with this. My goal is to get on the real team, the Women’s National Team.”

Ballek, 15, scored one goal and assisted on another in the championship game.

The Fort Collins native scored four goals in an 11-0 win over Jamaica and had one goal and two assists apiece in a 12-0 win over Puerto Rico and 6-0 victory of the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. had beaten Canada 1-0 earlier in the tournament.

“It was all pretty awesome,” she said. “The atmosphere was something I had never experienced before. All the teams’ flags were in the hotel, and it was fun to meet and play with girls from all over the country. I made a lot of friends.”

Ballek was the leading scorer for Fossil Ridge last spring, scoring 21 goals and assisting on 11 more for a team that went 11-4-2 and advanced to the second round of Colorado’s Class 5A playoffs.

She plays club soccer for Real Colorado National, based in suburban Denver, and was the only Colorado player on the U.S. team for the under-15 CONCACAF Cup.

This was the first national-team experience for each of the players on the U.S. team, the U.S. Soccer Association reported on its website.

Ballek earned her spot on the 17-player team, selected by U.S. coach Katie Schoepfer, during a camp in March in California and traveled with the team to Europe in June for games against under-15 national teams in Germany and the Netherlands.

“I learned so much from these trips, and now I know where I need to improve and get better,” she said. “I feel like I grew a lot in those few weeks.”

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Fossil Ridge's Abby Ballek helps U.S. win under-15 girls CONCACAF Cup