For DASC 10 year anniversary we'll be sharing 10 stories to remember what pillars built DASC, the memories from before the unification, during and after merging the Sioux Falls soccer entities.
For our fifth story in this series we focus on another outstanding team that had one of the most successful runs in club history. The 96/97 Dakota Gold Elite girls group went on to win President's Cup Regionals. Here is their story:
In order to fully understand this story, one hard truth needs to first be stated. The 1996/97 girls team was, by their own admission, not the most talented team that the club has ever produced. This meant that in their younger years, they did not enjoy some of the success that was experienced by other teams. There were many years of disappointment in tournaments relatively few victories.
The late coach Daniel Ohayon took this team over when they were at a precipice. During the high school years, it is very easy for a team that has not had success to fall apart. Factors such as other sports, social lives and school work can force players to put soccer on the back burner. Daniel's no nonsense attitude and slightly gruff exterior was not immediately popular with the girls, but helped them focus. Anyone who knew Daniel knows that while he can come across as a little abrasive initially, when you get to know him, you see his more caring softer side.
The U15 girls team loved the word "BINGO." They said it when scored goals or as a rallying cry. There is a even a picture of this team in the DASC office lobby, framed with the word BINGO printed on the frame. For one event, the girls made pink bedazzled t-shirts that said "BINGO." They made one for coach Ohayon, thinking he would never wear it, but as a nice gesture. When he showed up to a game wearing the sparkly "BINGO" shirt, the girls thought it was the greatest thing ever.
This was the turnaround moment for the team and their relationship with Ohayon. He showed his fun, vulnerable side, which the team appreciated and they started playing for him, knowing he had their back.
Kori Fink, who played for this team, and later went on the play at University of Sioux Falls and Nebraska Wesleyan, said the difference was that Daniel "got" the team. He understook they were not the best team at the club but they indeed loved playing, and with the right support, would be successful.
As the 2012 season went on, the Elite team started to improve, getting more promising results. The team had a very tight bond which showed in the State Championship game. They came together to score a very late equalizer, which was met with a euphoric response at Yankton Trails Park. Unfortunately, after extra time, they suffered the heartbreak of a penalty shoot-out elimination.
This could have been the end for the team, but they pulled themselves togther and went to Presidents Cup as the South Dakota representatives.
In Kansas City, they embarked on an amazing and dramatic run, upsetting a number of favored teams and making it to the final. The final game was a memorable win, and the team was crowned Presidents Cup Champions! The achievement was astonishing, given that this group was not supposed to win. A tightly knit team with an understanding coach was able to pull off this fantastic win.
The 96/97 Elite team represented everything we love about Dakota Alliance Soccer Club. They were a tight group (and still are), they worked hard, never gave up, and came together in important moments. This group still gets together when they can on holidays, and will always be known as the first President's Cup Regional Champions from Dakota Alliance Soccer Club.
Dakota Alliance Soccer Club 401 West 39th Street Sioux Falls, SD 57105 Mobile Phone: 605-332-5911 Fax: 605-332-0278