Rowe girls soccer team wins middle school championship

The champion R. Rowe Rowe girls soccer team.
(Marianne Kiil)

The undefeated R. Roger Rowe Middle School girls soccer team was newly crowned champions, the first time the school has won the North/South Coast Championship title since 2004. A history-making squad, this season also marks the first time that a Rowe girls soccer team has gone unbeaten.

Three days after winning the North Coast Championship, the Eagles went on to beat Francis Parker 3-0 at Maranatha Christian School on Feb. 10 to take the North/South Coast Championship.

“It really was a thrilling final,” said Coach Jeff Illingworth, noting Francis Parker was a tough competitor. “I was so excited at the end of the game I drove off and left all of our soccer balls, I was so pumped up.” (Don’t worry, he went back to save them.)

This year, Rowe brought in Illingworth to coach the middle school boys and girls teams. A native of Manchester, England, he has been teaching and coaching for 52 years. In 1997, he was hired to create the new Del Mar-Carmel Valley Sharks program and ran Carmel Valley Manchester Soccer for 12 years. In recent years he has run soccer camps in Carmel Valley and Hawaii—it was a Hawaiian family that relocated to Rancho Santa Fe who made the referral that landed him at Rowe.

Illingworth said this year’s girls team had a significant advantage, with a number of athletes playing for top-level clubs: “I knew right away we were going to be a difficult team to beat.”

These Eagles were always scoring—racking up 60 goals in the 11-game regular season.

“There is an incredible number of great attackers on this team,” Illingworth said. “It’s absolutely not a one-player team—I couldn’t tell you who the best player on the team was.”

In addition to their scoring power, the team was also very skilled defensively, he said.

Illingworth said he was happy to come to Rowe this season where he not only found talented players but great team parents and a positive partnership with Athletic Director Clark Allard and Julie Green, assistant coach.

The championship team includes Zahra Alam, Keani Brown, Aubrie Dingman, Ella Dye, Giovanna Gaudio, Anjali Gupta, Natalia Gupta,
Evelyn Hope-Bell, Arissa Jaswal, Maddie Karches, Brooklyn Kiil, Lauren Macvaugh-Howe, Keela Paulin, Greta Pennock, Genevieve Phung
Gaby Shanner and Ava Timlake.