A YOUNG Blackburn Rovers team wrote its name into the history books after claiming the runners-up trophy at the Dallas International Girls Cup.
Rovers’ Centre of Excellence took two teams to Texas for one of the biggest and most competitive international girls’ youth tournaments in the world.
While the U14s lost all three of their group games, the U16s became the first English side to progress to the knockout stage.
The girls beat Patuxent Swarm 5-0 and Texas Spirit 9-0 before losing 4-2 to hosts Dallas Texans.
That meant they finished second in their group on goal difference.
Keira Walsh then scored the decisive goal as Rovers beat Texas Spirit North 1-0 in the quarter-finals before Aisha Yallop netted the late winner against Rio Rapids in the semi-finals.
Yallop was sent off in the final, however, as Rovers slipped to a 4-0 defeat to the New Jersey Stallions.
Rovers’ Centre of Excellence manager Gemma Donnelly said: “Bar two or three games throughout the Centre of Excellence season, the U14s girls have been undefeated, so it was a new experience for them.
“Equally, we had seven players that didn’t travel with us, because of English Schools’ FA and England commitments, so we had a good proportion of the squad not involved.
“The U16s did really well. Up until about 10 minutes to go in the final, it was a relatively fair encounter. We then conceded a bit of a freak goal and it just collapsed from then on.
“All the girls had a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We were the first English team to ever get through the group stages, with the U16s, which was a magnificent achievement for them.
“They all had an amazing experience, given that they all stayed with host families, so they were shown around Dallas and embraced the culture, and have come back having had a really positive experience.”
Closer to home, meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers Ladies suffered last-gasp heartbreak as they went down 2-1 at Bradford City on Sunday – a result which meant they slipped to the bottom of the Women’s Premier League Northern Division.
Struggling Rovers looked to have earned a point thanks to Sophie Flynn 51st-minute strike.
But four minutes into injury-time at the end of the match Bradford scored direct from a corner.
Rovers interim manager Donnelly said: “We would have taken a point toward the end but their winning goal in added time epitomises our season.
“It was a cruel way to finish the game. Neither side deserved to win and a draw would have been a fairer result.”