Commentary

Colorado emerges as girls soccer hotbed

By Mike Woitalla

Seeing several players from the same state on a U.S. national team roster isn't surprising when they hail from California, which has the nation's largest population, nearly 40 million, and year-round soccer-playing weather.

But Colorado? That's a state of 5.6 million with a real winter.

Yet the current U.S. U-17 girls national team's 26-player roster includes six players from Colorado. Next is California with five. Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania each have two players on the roster. (Interestingly, there are none from Texas, a traditional youth soccer hotbed and the nation’s second most populace state with 27 million.)

The Coloradans on Coach B.J. Snow’s most recent roster are Alexis Loera of the Colorado Storm, the Colorado Rush’s Coriana Dyke and Civana Kuhlmann, and a trio out of Real Colorado: Shae Holmes, Jaelin Howell and Sophie Smith.

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“It is amazing when you compare the number of players you have out here compared to other states,” says Real Colorado executive director Lorne Donaldson. “There has to be something going on. I don’t think it’s anything special. The competition between players and coaches is high. We train at a high level. I think it’s a matter of coaches doing a good job.”

The weather is inconvenient, but may also instill fortitude in the players.

“We have a fairly long winter,” Donaldson says. “The kids are very resilient out here. They train in the cold. They’ll get out there no matter what the conditions. They’ll shovel the snow and train. I give the kids a lot of credit. They work at it. …

“We have some good days in the winter but we don’t have a lot of indoor facilities. There’s a good amount of FieldTurf in this area. If it was grass, we couldn’t get on it.”

Besides those players on the U-17 squad, Colorado is also home to the most promising female teen in the USA, Real Colorado’s Mallory Pugh, the 17-year-old who at age 16 started for the USA at the 2014 U-20 World Cup and leads the current U-20s who are aiming to qualify for the 2016 U-20 World Cup.

Lindsey Horan, 21, became the first American female to forgo college soccer and sign a professional contact in Europe when she went from the Colorado Rush to Paris St. Germain in 2012. She has made two appearances for the full national team.

“Another thing clubs here are doing – we do a good job of training them up,” Donaldson says. “Our younger kids, we train them with the older players. They don’t stay in their comfort zone.

“Mallory Pugh, she trains with the Academy boys a lot of times. Like today, I’m having her train with the Academy boys.”

U.S. U-17 girls convene in Carson

Coach B.J. Snow has called in 15 1999-born players and 11 born in 2000 for a 26-player U.S. U-17 girls national team camp Sept. 13-20 in Carson, Calif. -- six months ahead of the qualifying tournament for the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup.

The USA, which failed under Snow to qualify for the 2014 U-17 World Cup, will compete at the U-17 Concacaf Championship in Grenada next March to earn one of Concacaf’s three spots at the Jordan-hosted U-17 World Cup in September of 2016.

U.S. U-17 girls national team
GOALKEEPERS (4): Hensley Hancuff (Oklahoma FC; Edmond Okla.), Laurel Ivory (Sunrise; Surfside, Fla.) Savannah Madden (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Meyer (Eagles SC; Newbury Park, Calif.).
DEFENDERS (10): Kerry Abello (Team Chicago; Aurora, Ill.), Claire Constant (McLean; Alexandria, Va.), Chyanne Dennis (Lauderhill Lions; Sunrise, Fla.), Rachael Dorwart (Penn Fusion; Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Paige Franks (Richmond United; Henrico Valley, Va.), Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), Shae Holmes (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Jenna Nighswonger (Slammers FC; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Karlie Paschall (Tennessee SC; Brentwood, Tenn.), Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion; West Chester, Pa.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Coriana Dyke (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Samantha Fisher (Real So Cal; Simi Valley, Calif.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexis Loera (Colorado Storm; Thornton, Colo.), Brianna Martinez (New Mexico Rush; Albuquerque, N.M.), Olivia Wade (LaRoca FC; Kaysville, Utah), Summer Yates (Pac NW; Pasco, Wash.).
FORWARDS (5): Rachel Jones (Tophat SC; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Sophie Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Francesca Tagliaferri (PDA; Colts Neck, N.J.), Jordan Taylor (Ohio Premier Eagles; Wadsworth, Ohio).


U.S. U-17s (Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer.)

Young U.S. U-20 women's squad heads to Honduras

Coach Michelle French has named a 24-player roster for a Sept. 19-25 training camp in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The team is preparing for the the 2015 Concacaf U-20 Women's Championship in Honduras in December from which three teams will earn spots at  2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papau New Guinea.

With women’s college ball in season, French has picked only pre-college players, who range from 1997 to 2000 birth years. The age cutoff for 2016 U-20 World Cup is for players born on or after Jan. 1, 1996.

U.S. U-20 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.), Amanda Dennis (Slammers FC; Murrieta, Calif.).
DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (De Anza Force; Menlo Park, Calif.), Julie Doyle (San Diego Surf; Laguna Nigel; Calif.), Mia Gyau (McLean Soccer Club; Silver Spring, Md.), Samantha Hiatt (Crossfire FC; Newcastle, Wash.), Zoe Morse (Michigan Hawks; East Lansing, Mich.), Taylor Otto (CASL; Apex, N.C.), Kiara Pickett (Eagles; Santa Barbara, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Alissa Gorzak (Eclipse Soccer Club; Naperville, Ill.), Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting; Sachse, Texas), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (9): Marissa Bosco (Eclipse Soccer Club; St. Charles, Ill.), Kirsten Davis (SLSG – Missouri; Chesterfield, Mo.), Emily Fox (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Meghan McCool (Penn Fusion; Glenside, Penn.), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zoe Redei (Eclipse Soccer Club; Highland Park, Ill.), Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.), Ella Stevens (GSA; Grayson, Ga.).

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