As of now, "Most of our girls have never been out of California," Central California Aztecs 18U midfielder Araneg Leon said.
That is the situation as of now. The situation is about to change.
The Aztecs, a girls club soccer team comprised mainly of players from the Central Coast - coach Cristian Alvarez said four of the team's players hail from Bakersfield - will play in the President's Cup that will take place July 10-14 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The Aztecs warmed up for the President's Cup by winning their division at the Far West President's Cup that took place June 11-16 in Norco.
They out-scored their opposition by a combined 11-4. The Aztecs played the Brookfield Blast SC of Magista, Colorado, to a 0-0 draw, defeated the Utah-based La Roca S Girls 4-1 and downed the Mt. Diablo OLG Heat 2-0 in the preliminaries.
The Aztecs edged OC Surf Anaheim 2001 Carrillo 4-3 in the semifinals.
"That was big for us," said Alvarez, who coached the Santa Maria High School girls team during the school year. "That team beat us in the final of the state tournament."
In the Far West President's Cup semifinals, "We got a cushion, then we got too comfortable and had to hang on," said Leon, who played for Alvarez at Santa Maria..
"That game was wild," said Mecaelea Lopez, an Aztecs defender who played for Orcutt Academy during the school year.
The Aztecs edged the Blast 1-0 in the championship game.
"That team was a very technical team," said Leon.
"Very good footwork," said Lopez.
Alvarez said, "This team has been together for about a year and a half. (The Blast) has been together for six years."
Sara Rodriguez, one of Alvarez's players at Santa Maria, was the team's goalkeeper the first three games of the tournament. Megan Lynch, one of the team's players Alvarez said comes from Bakersfield, was the keeper in the last two.
"She made some incredible saves in the championship game," said Alvarez.
Haley Obenshain, another one of the team's Bakersfield residents, scored the only goal in the championship game.
"Our team scoring was spread around pretty evenly," said Alvarez. "Haley and Paola Diaz did do most of the scoring.
"Paola replaced Jazmin Zarate after Jazmin broke her leg," said Alvarez. "Jazmin had been a very solid player for us. We had two big injuries, and we had to adjust our lineup for the last two games."
Lopez and Leon play together for the Aztecs after they went against each other in the first round of the CIF Central Section divisional playoffs during the school year. Leon's Santa Maria squad edged Lopez's Orcutt Academy team 2-1 in overtime.
When the Aztecs first started working out, "It took some getting used to because the players were from a lot of different schools," Leon said.
However, Lopez and Leon said the Aztecs quickly settled in. "All of the girls played with or against each other in club ball (earlier), so we knew each other," said Lopez.
The team's forwards for the President's Cup will be Diaz, Obenshain and Yvette Abundiz.
The midfielders are Leon, Hayde Gallardo, Kelly Lynch, Mia Santana, Ariadna Maza Rodriguez, Sophia Scheler, Annette Vargas and Natalie Lima.
The defenders are Mecaelea Lopez, Jessica Gil, Alexandra Little, Kylie Lopez and Alison Magni.
The goalkeepers are Rodriguez and Megan Lynch. Alvarez said Zarate, a forward, midfielders Alissa Castro and Brooke Stewart and defender Reyna Ramirez played for the Aztecs during the Far West President's Cup but will not play in the President's Cup.