The Union Democrat Sports Department

In just four short months since its inception, the FC Sierra Gold Academy captured its first tournament championship.

The U19 women's FC Sierra Gold Academy United team, comprised of players mostly from the Mother Lode, won the two-day 2013 Stanford Summer Classic Division 3 soccer tournament on Sunday, Aug. 25 in Palo Alto.

"The goal of our first tournaments was to gain experience and create exposure for the region," said academy co-founder Denyse Garcia Mclaughlin. "These girls did that and so much more."

United opened the tournament by beating ACS Nighthawks 3-2, after being down by two goals early in the first half.

With a few minutes before halftime, forward Katrisse Brown cut the deficit in half with a goal off her left foot to head into the break at 2-1.

With a goal and momentum on their side, United established control of the game with possession and precise passing. Sam Crabtree connected with a streaking Jessica Becker in space 20 yards outside of goal, and Becker fired a shot into the upper right corner for the equalizer, 1-1.

Makay Freitas iced the match with a header from a crossing assist from Jennifer Munoz in the final 10 minutes for the win.

Coming off a strong second-half defensive performance, United shut out MDSA United FC, 1-0, with a solid showing from goalkeeper Cassidy Donaldson.

Brown, again, found the net in the first half when she tapped in a hot ball sent by in Jessica Becker to score the match's only goal. Defender Lauran Redding and midfielders Meleisa Gardina-Deckman, Alex Thornton and Kristin Kruenegel covered enough ground defensively to add to the shutout.

On Sunday, United continued its hot streak by beating Madera Roja FC 2-1, when Brown drew first blood with a fine finish on goal in the 12th minute. Roja FC answered back five minutes later to go into halftime at 1-1 apiece.

With Hannah Hull, Allie Delicia Parker, Teska Hapig-Ward and Rebecca Valencia providing steady service and pace for United, Brown scored her second goal of the afternoon to seal the victory.

United closed out the tournament with a 2-1 win over Mustang Impact SC Impact in the championship game. United entered halftime up 1-0 with another Brown goal. But the Impact came out determined after the half to knot it all up in the 50th minute with a goal of their own.

Brown scored late in the second half from a through ball from Crabtree to give United its first ever tournament trophy.

"Going into the tournament unknown and unranked, United was certainly the dark horse," Garcia McLaughlin said. "There is so much talent in this area, we knew if we could combine the athletes from all over the Mother Lode, we could create a very strong and competitive team. And now we've gone from a hard-working, unknown, group of players to establishing the beginnings of a serious reputation."

The U15 FC Sierra Gold Moxie squad placed fifth at the Stanford Cup with a 1-2 record in the tournament.