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News from USL

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    Philadelphia Union News Release --

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Philadelphia Union announced today that the club has signed forward Yann Ekra, who spent the previous two years with USL PRO affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders. The Ivory Coast native will be added to the roster pending a medical and will occupy an International roster spot. Per club and MLS policy, specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Ekra began his career in Europe, spending time with French power Olympique Lyonnais’ reserve team, Lyon B, during the 2007/2008 season. The 22-year-old forward then signed with England’s Hull City the following year, where he went on loan to Panionios FC in Greece.

    The Ivorian eventually signed with the Union’s USL PRO affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders in 2012, where he appeared in over 40 matches, scoring 10 goals and tallying four assists in his two years with the club. 

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    PDL News Release

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The PDL is pleased to announce the addition of Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC for the 2014 season. The club will be operated by Dutch Lions FC, which includes the Dayton Dutch Lions of USL PRO and the W-League, and the Houston Dutch Lions of the PDL.

    The Cincinnati Dutch Lions will consist of top college players and several Dutch players, and have a close partnership with the USL PRO team in Dayton.

    “Starting Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC feels like coming home,” said Mike Mossel President of the Dutch Lions Capital Group BV and Dayton Dutch Lions FC. “When Erik [Tammer] and I wanted to start a professional soccer club in the U.S. back in 2009, Cincinnati was our first choice since I went to Xavier University and played as a professional in USL in this market. Back then I already saw the potential and need for a high-level soccer team and professionally run organization.

    “I can’t wait to go back to my old school, Xavier University, and offer the local soccer community a high level of soccer and get people excited.”

    The Cincinnati Dutch Lions will compete in the Central Conference in 2014, playing a 14-game schedule at Xavier University’s Corcoran Field. The Cincinnati Kings participated in the PDL from 2005-12.

    “We’re obviously excited about having a PDL club back in a great soccer market such as Cincinnati, and having the team be another extension of Dutch Lions FC only adds to our enthusiasm,” USL President Tim Holt said. “Mike Mossel and Dutch Lions FC run a first-class operation and produce competitive teams on the field, and we expect nothing less in Cincinnati.”

    The PDL has been the destination league for young college players to continue their development toward the professional ranks, with clubs from across North America not only competing for a championship each summer, but also providing the opportunity for top-level competition for the best players in the college ranks.

    More than 150 former PDL players have been selected in the MLS SuperDraft in the past five seasons, including each of the past two No. 1 picks – Andrew Wenger (Carolina Dynamo) in 2012, and Andrew Farrell (River City Rovers) in 2013.

    In addition to the MLS SuperDraft, a number of former PDL alumni have also been signed to Home Grown Player contracts by MLS clubs, with those such as the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes (Ventura County Fusion), New England Revolution’s Scott Caldwell (Michigan Bucks), FC Dallas’ London Woodberry (Baltimore Bohemians) and the Seattle Sounders FC’s DeAndre Yedlin (Sounders FC U23) all continuing their development in the PDL after leaving their MLS club’s academy to play college soccer. 

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    PDL Feature

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – After falling in its opening game of the season, Northwestern has made a strong move up the national rankings to with four consecutive wins with Chicago Fire PDL forward Joey Calistri leading the way. The Wildcats, who sit at No. 16 in the latest NSCAA rankings, took a pair of victories this past weekend at the NIU Tournament as Calistri took not only Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors for a second consecutive occasion, but also College Soccer News’ Player of the Week honors.

    Calistri led a number of current and former PDL alumni to earn national and conference honors after the third weekend of action in Men’s Division I NCAA soccer. The sophomore had the fourth hat trick in Northwestern history as he led the Wildcats to a 4-0 victory against Green Bay on Friday night, and then scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win against Butler on Sunday to take MVP honors for the tournament.

    Calistri was also a selection on’s Team of the Week, where he was joined in attack by Reading United’s Larry Ndjock, who continued his strong performance this fall for Loyola, Md. with game-winning goals against both Quinnipiac and Campbell. The sophomore now has six goals this season for the Greyhounds.

    Also named to the TDS Team of the Week was former Des Moines Menace midfielder Matt LaGrassa of Cal Poly, who had three goals in two games as a the Mustangs rallied past Penn before taking a 6-1 victory against San Jose State. He was joined by the LA Misioneros’ Trevor Morley, who was named the Defensive MVP of the Lobo Invitational as Cal State Northridge took victory against Central Arkansas and No. 9 New Mexico. Eric Stevenson of Sounders FC U23 was also named as he scored twice to lead Akron to victory against San Diego State on Sunday afternoon.

    In conference honors, the Michigan Bucks’ Matt Walker had a standout week for Xavier to claim Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors. Walker, who had two goals and six assists for Michigan this summer, had a hand in all four of the Musketeers’ goals as he scored the game-winner in a 2-0 against Cal-Irvine, and the assist on the game-winner in a 2-1 win against Kentucky.

    Reading United’s Keegan Rosenberry also took Big East Honors as the Georgetown sophomore was named Defensive Player of the Week, while former Jersey Express standout Rafael Diaz took Goalkeeper of the Week honors for a second consecutive week as he recorded 11 saves in two 1-0 shutouts against South Carolina and West Virginia.

    IMG Bradenton Academy goalkeeper Ryan Coulter claimed Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Week honors as he recorded a pair of shutouts for East Tennessee, including a 1-0 victory against No. 8 UAB. Coulter’s goals-against average this season for the Buccaneers is now 0.18. His teammate at IMG, Ryan Lemasters, claimed the Mid-American Conference’s Player of the Week honor as he led Western Michigan to a pair of victories at the Eastern Illinois 50 Years of Soccer Tournament.

    Carolina Dynamo standout Mamadee Nyepon claimed Big South Attacking Player of the Week honors after leading High Point to a big upset of No. 15 UNC-Greensboro. The forward from Cote D’Ivoire scored twice against the Spartans, and then added a goal and an assist in the Panthers’ victory against Navy to cap the weekend.

    Nyepon was joined in being honored by the Ocean City Nor’easters’ Shawn McLaws, who was named Big South Defensive Player of the Week as he anchored Coastal Carolina’s defense in victories against South Carolina and No. 15 UNC-Greensboro. McLaws, who made 11 appearances for the Nor’easters this summer, transitioned seamlessly between three different positions in the two contests, playing as a holding midfielder, center back and right back at different points.

    Fellow Nor’easters standout Brian Billings was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week as he helped Bradley claim a 1-0 upset of No. 3 Connecticut with five saves. Billings has recorded three shutouts in his first five appearances this season for the Braves after posting a 0.933 GAA for Ocean City this summer.

    Fresno Fuego goalkeeper Cesar Castillo took Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors after he only conceded one goal in two games for Sacramento State during the weekend. Castillo made 16 saves as the Hornets earned a 1-1 draw with San Francisco, and a 0-0 draw with St. Mary’s.

    Panama City Beach Pirates goalkeeper Sean Lewis, who played every minute for the Pirates this summer, claimed the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Week honors, while former CFC Azul forward Peter Jacobson was named Ivy League Player of the Week as he had a hat trick and an assist in Yale’s 4-1 win against Sacred Heart.

    The Westchester Flames’ Kevin Correa took the Northeast Conference’s Player of the Week honors as he had a hand in five of St. Francis’ eight goals in its pair of victories during the weekend. Correa starred in a 4-1 win against Howard, in which he had two goals and two assists to take the conference lead with 12 points.

    Bucknell’s Jesse Klug, formerly of the North Sound SeaWolves, was named the Patriot League’s Offensive Player of the Week as he scored in a third consecutive contest to lift the Bison to a 1-0 win against Albany and 2-0 win against Siena.

    SC United Bantams midfielder Nestor Jaramillo earned the Southern Conference’s Player of the Week award after he scored three goals and added an assist for Wofford as it defeated Liberty and Jacksonville. 

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    USL PRO News Release

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 2014 USL PRO Combine is set for January 23-26, 2014 and once again will be held at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The USL PRO Combine provides an opportunity for elite men’s soccer players to showcase their talents for both domestic and international scouts and professional coaches.

    The annual event, now in its eighth year, will feature 102 of the top players from North America and overseas hoping to land a professional contract. To date, more than 150 participants have gone on to sign professional contracts with USL, MLS and international squads since the debut of the combine in 2006. The event attracts top talent from throughout North America, with a majority of the participants coming from the PDL, North America’s leading developmental league for men’s professional soccer.

    The USL PRO Combine will be led by USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor, who will oversee a comprehensive curriculum that challenges participants while providing coaches with the proper environment for evaluation. Coaches expected to participate in the event will include those from USL PRO, MLS and several current PDL coaches and executives.

    “The past two years have proven that IMG Academy is the best possible location for the USL PRO Combine, so we’re excited to be back to Bradenton in 2014,” Mellor said. “The professional environment at IMG Academy raises the level of the event, both on and off the field, and the players have every opportunity to showcase their talent for the coaches in attendance.”

    Past beneficiaries of the event include 2013 USL All-League selection Gibson Bardsley, who scored nine goals and added seven assists for the Dayton Dutch Lions this past season. A pair of players, Matthew Bahner and Jamiel Hardware, went from the 2013 combine to productive minutes for the Harrisburg City Islanders this summer, while a pair of former USL PRO Rookie of the Year selections, Luke Mulholland (Wilmington, 2011) and Jose Cuevas (Charleston, 2012), were also identified at the USL PRO Combine.

    Other former combine participants have gone on to Major League Soccer, with current Sporting Kansas City midfielder Lawrence Olum (Orlando City) and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Tom Heinemann (Charleston Battery) starring at the professional level in USL before making the jump to North America’s top flight.

    Members of the 2013 PDL All-League Team will receive special invitations to participate. Other players hoping to participate in the USL PRO Combine will be selected based, in particular, the past three years of their playing background and their soccer achievements. The application will be available through the “Events” tab on starting on September 23 with a deadline of November 29. Participants will receive local transportation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, lodging, and uniforms.

    “I’m pleased we’re once again able to invite the PDL All-League Team members who demonstrated during the 2013 season that they deserve the opportunity," Mellor said.

    Goalkeepers will report and begin training for the 2014 USL PRO Combine on Thursday, January 23, followed by field players on Friday, January 24. The event concludes on Sunday, January 26.

    IMG Academy, a division of IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media company, is the world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex. For more than 30 years, IMG Academy has helped countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes reach their full potential in and out of sport, by providing world-class coaching, tailored programs and professional facilities within an energetic environment across a 450-acre campus.

    2014 USL PRO Combine Application

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    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. - The Next Generation Series will make its debut Friday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida when 11 boys and girls teams from some of the top clubs in the southeast gather to participate in professional-level training, testing and education. 

    Inspired by the consistent message from youth coaches seeking a fresh development initiative geared for younger players, NextGen focuses on the U12 and U14 age groups and strives to develop the complete elite youth soccer player through a defined regimen of training, competition, testing, and evaluation. NextGen is a partnership between USL and IMG Academy.

    Participants at NextGen’s kickoff event will not only compete on the field, they will take part in IMG’s world-renowned i360 Athlete Evaluation program and classroom instruction regarding athlete body management, nutrition and mental conditioning. Coaches and parents will also participate in classroom education sessions designed to place the focus on development and reverse results-based trends.

    “No other current youth initiative places the focus so acutely on development while providing players in the U12 to U14 age groups with the knowledge base needed to become elite players,” USL Youth Leagues Executive Director Jason Arnold said. “The players are introduced to the principles and habits that will allow them to achieve their full potential, while coaches and parents learn about the priorities that are needed for that potential to be realized.”

    Clubs taking part in this ground-floor kickoff event for NextGen include Celtic FC Florida, Houston Dynamo of Tampa, Jacksonville Youth Soccer Club, Knoxville Soccer Academy, and the VSI Pinellas Flames. Texas-based NextGen clubs Austin Texans Soccer Club, Samba Football Club and SA United Soccer Club will join in for NextGen’s final inaugural-season event in April.

    Participants will undergo i360 Testing Friday morning, followed by classroom education sessions and technical training. Games kick off Saturday morning, followed by additional classroom sessions and technical/tactical on-field training sessions. The event concludes on Sunday with final games and a coaches’ roundtable session. 

    The world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex, IMG Academy hosts myriad soccer team training camps each year and has recently welcomed clubs such as the Seattle Sounders, the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, the Columbus Crew, Sweden’s Malmö FF, as well as the U.S. Women’s National Team preparing for the London Olympic Games and the Antigua & Barbuda Men’s National Team preparing for World Cup qualifying.


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    W-League Feature

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013
    TAMPA, Fla. – Georgetown’s Daphne Corboz, who tallied a pair of assists for the Pali Blues in their 2013 W-League Semifinal win against the Washington Spirit Reserves, registered eight points in an 8-0 win against Yale to be named Big East Offensive Player of the Week and lead the roundup of W-League players earning NCAA Division I honors this week. The junior midfielder scored a pair of goals and added three assists in the victory, playing in only her second game of the season after missing the first five games with an injury.
    Spirit Reserves winger Ashley Herndon, who led the team with six goals in 2013, was named Colonial Athletic association Rookie of the Week following a goal and an assist in James Madison’s 3-2 victory at Charlotte last Friday. The freshman assisted on Lauren Wilson’s goal that gave the Dukes a 1-0 lead, and tallied the game-winning goal in the 66th minute. She leads JMU with three goals and seven points this season.
    Kristen Hamilton was named Summit League Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after tallying two goals and an assist to lead No. 16 Denver to a 3-0 shutout of Colorado. An All-League selection at forward for the Colorado Rapids Women, the senior put DU on the scoreboard with the eventual game-winner in the 63rd minute, added an insurance goal in the 88th minute and assisted on Anna Willis’ goal two minutes later. In the match, Hamilton broke Denver’s all-time record with 43 career goals.
    Hamilton’s teammate this past summer with the Rapids Women, goalkeeper Kate Scheele, recorded back-to-back shutouts for the third time in her career to help Colorado College post victories against Ball State (2-0) and regionally-ranked Texas (2-0) and earn Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors. The sophomore tied her season high with seven saves against Texas, and equaled last year’s total with her third and fourth shutouts of the season.
    A third Rapids Women player earned recognition when midfielder Jessica Ayers was included in the Team of the Week after scoring the game-winner against Texas for Colorado College on Friday. Hamilton and Corboz were also included on the TDS Team of the Week.
    Continuing the trend of Dayton Dutch Lions capturing NCAA honors, midfielder Kathryn Dolesh from Miami (Ohio) scored three of her team’s six goals this past weekend to earn the MAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week nod. Against Milwaukee, Dolesh played all but six minutes and scored Miami’s second goal to put the ‘Hawks up, 2-1 midway through the second half. In a double-overtime thriller against Big Ten foe Purdue, Dolesh scored twice including a strike in the 81st minute to put ‘Hawks on top, 3-2.
    Rutgers junior Stef Scholz has been named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week after the North Jersey Valkyries standout scored five goals for the Scarlet Knights in two games. She netted her first goal of the season in Friday’s 4-0 win against Bryant, and continued with four goals in her team’s 5-1 defeat of Princeton to become the first Scarlet Knight to score four goals in a game since 1984.
    Toronto Lady Lynx forward Ashley Campbell was named Atlantic 10 Conference Women’s Soccer Co-Player of the Week after the Dayton sophomore tallied three goals and one assist this past weekend for the Flyers. On Friday, Campbell assisted on the first goal of the game before scoring her fourth goal of the season in the 84th minute en route to a 4-0 Flyers win. On Sunday, Campbell recorded both Dayton goals in a 2-2 double-overtime tie against local rival, Wright State, and leads the team with six goals.
    Seattle Sounders Women forward Janine Beckie nabbed Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors after scoring twice for Texas Tech in a 2-0 victory against Arizona at the 2013 ‘Cats Classic tournament in Tucson. It was Beckie’s fourth career multi-goal outing, and she tallied her second game-winning goal of the season and seventh of her career helping Texas Tech to improve to 7-1.

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    W-League Feature
    Wednesday, September 18, 2013
    TAMPA, Fla. – When University of Florida coach Becky Burleigh and her associate head coach Vic Campbell were recruiting Savannah Jordan, something they were told by Jordan’s club coach Brian Moore stayed with them.
    “He always talked about how she liked to challenge herself,” Burleigh said recently.
    A standout in the youth ranks thanks to the work of Moore and the Concorde Fire, that desire to challenge herself, and provide a platform for her freshman season in NCAA Division I Soccer, brought Jordan to the Atlanta Silverbacks and the W-League this past summer.
    “I think over the summer I knew I didn’t want to take a month off, or even a couple of weeks of not playing soccer,” Jordan said. “I knew the Atlanta Silverbacks had a great coach, a great program, it was really competitive, and I think that helped me over the summer work on the things I wanted to work on and get better for the fall.”
    For Burleigh, Jordan’s summer plans were a welcome sign.
    “I was really excited when she told me she was going to play for the Silverbacks, because I knew that was a high-level team and I knew that she would get a good deal of experience playing against much older players,” the veteran coach said. “She had demonstrated some of that in the spring with us, but I think that’s just helped her development, to continue to play in the W-League.”
    The work Jordan put in with the Silverbacks, as she emphasized making good runs into the penalty area and having a stronger presence in more facets of the game, definitely paid off. Not only did Jordan have a standout season in Atlanta as she scored eight goals and recorded three assists to earn All-League honors, she was then able to translate that form into her first games at UF. Named the NSCAA National Player of the Week after scoring five goals in her opening two games for the Gators, Jordan has quickly adapted to the speed and physicality of the college game, with some of the credit going to her experience in with the Silverbacks.
    “Yeah, I think it helped a lot, because things are so much more physical and competitive,” Jordan said. “Like what we saw tonight, the girls were just physical, and I think that helped me a lot to build as a player in every aspect.”
    With eight goals in eight games, Jordan has quickly become a target for opposing defenses as Florida moves toward its SEC schedule, starting against Alabama on Friday night. That was evident in Florida’s game against South Florida, where Jordan’s clear looks on goal were limited as different members of the Bulls’ defense, in particular K-W United’s Leticia Skeete and VSI Tampa Bay FC’s Cara Patterson, tried to contain the freshman standout.
    “I know that it’s hard for me, because I did have such a successful start, that everyone’s on the lookout now,” Jordan said. “It’s a lot harder for me to get those opportunities like I did at the beginning when no-one really knew who I was, but now I think that’s just the challenge for me, fighting through that and overcoming obstacles and still being able to score.”
    The good news for Jordan is she has a strong supporting cast behind her. Burleigh’s hope is her young scoring phenom can continue to build her game as part of the Gators’ program, with her link-up play with attacking midfielders such as Havana Solaun and Annie Speese a key as the side moves toward the postseason.
    “I think she’s going to learn when she’s playing with us that she can give the ball up and get it right back, because of the way we play,” Burleigh said. “I think sometimes she’s so driven to score goals that she wants to do it, and that’s great because it makes her very dangerous, she can spin a defender, but I think also she’s going to learn combination play even to a bigger extent than she already has.”
    As Jordan makes that as integral to her game as her finishing, the challenge will rest with the defenses she faces this fall, and next summer in Atlanta.

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    PDL Feature

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    After helping the Austin Aztex claim the PDL Championship last month, Khiry Shelton has made a good start to the NCAA season with Oregon State. On Sunday, the forward will get to show his abilities on national television as the Beavers host San Jose State on the Pac-12 Network, one of a number of games set to air on television or online this weekend that feature current and former PDL standouts.

    Shelton had three goals and two assists for the Aztex in the club’s four playoff games, and now has four goals and an assist for Oregon State to lead the side to a 5-1-0 record. The Portland Timbers U-23s’ Will Seymore has also contributed to the Beavers’ attack, recording a goal and an assist, while the North Sound SeaWolves’ Daniel Van Vleet has a pair of goals.

    The weekend’s action begins on Friday night as Virginia Tech hosts North Carolina in an ACC clash on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. ET. The Hokies have opened the season with a 3-1-1 record, thanks in part to former Virginia Beach Piranhas midfielder Robert Alberti, who leads the team with 10 points in five games. FC Tucson’s David Clemens has also chipped in a goal and an assist, while defender Devante Dubose, who spent this past summer with the West Texas Sockers, leads the team in minutes played.

    The Hokies will be strongly tested by a North Carolina side that is coming off a 2-2 draw with Maryland in its last outing. Led by Chicago Fire PDL forward Tyler Engel, who has three goals and an assist this season, the Tar Heels returned to their No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA poll this week, with former Reading United defender Jordan McCrary and the Carolina Dynamo duo of Boyd Okwuonu and Jonathan Campbell both playing important roles.

    Also on Friday night, Washington hosts Florida Gulf Coast in a non-conference matchup that can be seen on the Pac-12 Network at 10 p.m. ET. The Huskies moved up to No. 6 in the NSCAA rankings this week, and have been led by the North Sound SeaWolves’ Taylor Peay, who has four goals. The Huskies are without Washington Crossfire standout goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who recently saw his season ended by a broken leg, but were able to maintain their undefeated record in their last outing as the Sounders FC U-23s’ Ian Lange scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Brown.

    FGCU, meanwhile, is looking for an improvement on a slow start to the season that has seen the side go winless in its first four outings. A key will be the Austin Aztex’s Aaron Guillen, who leads the team in minutes, and the SW Florida Adrenaline’s Xavier Silva, who is looking for his first point of the season.

    Action returns to the ACC on Saturday night as Wake Forest visits Pitt at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3. The Demon Deacons are led by former Carolina Dynamo forward Andy Lubahn, who has two goals and three assists in five games, while the Sounders FC U-23’s Sean Okoli has also chipped in a goal and an assist. Another player to watch will be Super-20 League standout Sam Fink, who helped St. Louis Scott Gallagher reach the national semifinals this past summer.

    Saturday night also sees non-conference action as the Orlando City U23’s David Graydon leads St. Louis against Connecticut on at 7 p.m. ET. Graydon has a goal and four assists for the Billikens this fall, while Francisco Vizcaino, who also played for the Lions this summer, has a pair of goals. 

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    W-League Feature

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    After leading the Laval Comets to the 2013 W-League Championship Game, Nkem Ezurike has returned to the University of Michigan with her sights set on becoming the program’s all-time goal-scoring leader. The senior will try to add to her 40 career goals for the Wolverines on Sunday afternoon on national television, one of a number of current and former W-League players set to feature in televised contests during the weekend.

    No. 15 Michigan opens its Big Ten schedule against Iowa on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, with the game available on the Big Ten Network. Ezurike trails current Michigan record-holder Kacy Beitel by four goals, and already has five goals and five assists in seven games for the Wolverines this fall. She is backed by the Ottawa Fury’s Shelina Zadorsky, who has four assists for the Wolverines this season, and Holly Hein, who has started all seven games this season.

    Iowa, meanwhile, enters with a perfect 8-0-0 record that has been powered in part by the London Gryphons’ Melanie Pickert, who is tied for the team lead with eight points on three goals and two assists. Former Toronto Lady Lynx forward Cloe Lacasse has also played well for the Hawkeyes, matching Pickert’s output, while Colorado Rapids Women goalkeeper Hannah Clark has posted a 0.50 goals-against average and five shutouts in her side’s eight victories.

    The weekend’s action begins on Thursday night as Stanford hosts St. Mary’s in a non-conference clash on the Pac-12 Network at 10 p.m. ET. The undefeated Cardinal enter the game led by the Ottawa Fury’s Taylor Uhl, who has six goals in six games to start the season. Also featuring are the Washington Spirit Reserves’ Alex Doll and VSI Tampa Bay FC’s Sydney Payne, both of whom have a goal and assist, while the Pali Blues’ Chioma Ubogagu has a pair of assists.

    The LA Strikers’ Rachel Daly leads St. John’s into action on Friday night as the Red Storm host Dartmouth at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN3. Daly, who was an All-Western Conference selection this summer, has scored 11 goals in seven games for the Red Storm this fall, and leads Division I with 24 points.

    Also on Friday night, the Pac-12 Network features Washington as the Huskies host Gonzaga in a non-conference showdown. The Huskies have been led this season by a trio of former Seattle Sounders Women, with Jaclyn Softli having scored a pair of goals and Lindsay Elston recording a pair of assists. Washington will look for continued creativity from Isabel Farrell, who leads the team with four assists, as it hosts the Bulldogs.

    Sunday sees the action switch to the ACC, where former Colorado Rush goalkeeper Kelsey Wys leads Florida State as the Seminoles host North Carolina State at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3. Wys currently holds a 0.35 goals-against average, with five shutouts in eight games.

    Also on ESPN3 at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Virginia visits Pittsburgh with the Cavaliers led by the Pali Blues’ Makenzy Doniak. The sophomore has five goals and four assists in seven games for Virginia, and will lead the Cavaliers’ attack against a Panthers side looking for its first win in conference play. 

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  • 09/21/13--13:35: NextGen Opens At IMG Academy
  • Next Generation Series News Release

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – The inaugural edition of the Next Generation Series began at the world-class facilities of IMG Academy on Friday, with 11 top-class teams from across the southeast participating in a new player-development initiative aimed at the U14 and U12 age groups.

    Under the watch of USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor, players went through an opening day of testing and classroom sessions, receiving technical instruction, working through a battery of tests, and taking in information about nutrition and mental conditioning from the IMG Academy instructors on hand.

    “Not only does it give the players themselves - even though they’re young - an idea of what they should be thinking about doing to help develop themselves, but I think also for the parents and coaches that are in attendance with those teams,” Mellor said.

    Also included in the opening day’s curriculum was a seminar for the numerous parents in attendance, which included the same information imparted to the players and coaches earlier in the day, and examples of how they could be a strong part of the support system that will allow players to flourish as they continue their development in the youth ranks with clubs such as Celtic FC Florida, the Knoxville Soccer Academy and Jacksonville Youth Soccer.

    The weekend will continue with scrimmages between the teams in attendance that are focused on player development, with each team set to play two scrimmages of three 30-minute periods on Saturday and Sunday, and more classroom and training sessions that will set players on the path to a well-rounded view of the game.

    “This type of environment, and the opportunity to listen and learn something new that they probably haven’t dealt with, can turn on the light for them,” Mellor said. “Suddenly they become more devoted, and more connected to the game in their training and their play.”


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    USL Feature

    Friday, September 20, 2013’s annual 24 under 24 rankings were announced this week, with 10 former USL players, ranging from the top of the organization’s development pyramid in USL PRO to its base, the Super Y-League, being selected by a panel of and national media writers.

    The PDL had the most selections, with three former award-winners among the seven players named to the list. Leading the way was former Cleveland Internationals standout Darlington Nagbe, who claimed top spot in the rankings after his continued progression with the Portland Timbers in the 2013 MLS season. Nagbe, who made 18 appearances for the Internationals, has scored eight goals and added three assists this summer for the Timbers, playing a crucial role in the club’s pursuit of a place in the MLS Playoffs.

    Former Sounders FC U-23 standout DeAndre Yedlin also ranked highly as he claimed the No. 3 spot. A 2012 PDL All-League selection, Yedlin has had a standout rookie season after being signed to a Home Grown Player contract by the Seattle Sounders FC. Having made 23 starts to date, the right back also played a role in the U.S. advancing to the U20 World Cup earlier this summer, and scored his first professional goal against Tigres in the CONCACAF Champions League.

    Another pair of Home Grown signings were also named in the Top 10, with former Ventura County Fusion standout Gyasi Zardes being named at the No. 7 position, and former Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 midfielder Russell Teibert taking the No. 10 spot.

    Zardes, now with the Los Angeles Galaxy, had a standout 2012 season for the Fusion, claiming All-Western Conference honors as he scored eight goals to help Ventura County to a division title. Teibert, meanwhile, made 28 appearances for the Whitecaps U-23 side before being brought up to the first team, and has made a strong impression this summer with two goals and eight assists in 18 appearances.

    Two former Super-Y League standouts were also named to the list, with the New England Revolution’s Juan Agudelo claiming the No. 6 spot, and D.C. United’s Bill Hamid coming in at No. 18. Agudelo began his youth career with the New Jersey Stallions, and was an ODP selection after leading his side to the 2006 Super Y-League North American Finals. From there, he joined the New York Red Bulls Academy, and will soon join Stoke City in the English Premier League.

    Hamid, meanwhile, was part of the D.C. United side that competed in the Super-Y League before signing with the club at the age of 18 in 2009. Since then, the former U.S. Youth international has gone on to make 84 appearances for the club’s first team, and one appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

    Other players to earn selection include the Portland Timbers’ Andrew Jean-Baptiste, named at No. 16, who was sent on loan to USL PRO’s Los Angeles Blues in 2012 to gain experience that has proven essential this summer as the Timbers compete for a place in the MLS Playoffs. Jean-Baptiste had also previously been part of the Super Y-League, earning ODP selection in 2007 as a member of the New York Rough Riders.

    Back in the PDL, former River City Rovers defender Andrew Farrell was named at the No. 9 spot as he bolstered the reputation that saw him selected with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. Farrell, who claimed a Super-20 League championship with the Columbus Crew Juniors in 2011, has been spoken of as a potential future right back for the U.S. Men’s National Team, with he and Yedlin likely to battle for that responsibility in years to come.

    The Colorado Rapids duo of Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers, both former PDL standouts, were also named after playing critical roles in their rookie seasons in Denver. Brown, an All-League selection after he led the PDL with 13 goals in 13 games for Reading United, came in at No. 20 while in the middle of a season that has seen him lead all rookies with seven goals. Powers, formerly of the Austin Aztex, has been a standout in the center of the Rapids midfield, making 27 appearances while scoring four goals and adding five assists.


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    Next Generation Series News Release

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The inaugural event for the Next Generation Series came to a close today as 11 boys and girls teams from some of the top clubs in the southeast were able to enjoy a taste of professional-level training, testing and education. With the Phase I event complete, teams will put NextGen’s development-focused lessons into practice for the next six months before returning for the second NextGen Series event in April, 2014.

    Inspired by the consistent message from youth coaches seeking a fresh development initiative geared for younger players, NextGen focuses on the U12 and U14 age groups and strives to develop the complete elite youth soccer player through a defined regimen of training, competition, testing, and evaluation. NextGen is a partnership between USL and IMG Academy.

    “I think we’ve had a great weekend. Everything went as planned and the feedback from the players and parents in particular, has been first class,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “That’s the type of response we want to hear to know we’re on the right track for developing these young athletes to move forward.”

    In addition to on-field training and games, participants at this weekend’s kickoff event took part in IMG’s world-renowned i360 Athlete Evaluation program and classroom instruction regarding athlete body management, nutrition and mental conditioning. Coaches and parents were included in classroom education sessions designed to place the focus on development and prepare players for the commitment necessary to reach the elite level.

    “Overall this was a great learning step for all the players,” VSI Pinellas U13 and U14 boys Head Coach Eddie Loewen said. “It was a professionally-run event and we’re going to take a lot of data from the performance testing so we can see how we improve during the coming months. It’s going to be important for the players to now apply the knowledge they learned in the classroom sessions about nutrition, how to prepare professionally for a game, and how to deal mentally with pressure and difficult situations.

    “It’s a key that they get the message now, and I wish when I was younger that I’d had the opportunity to do these kinds of things. Right now they’re in the golden stage of learning, they’re anywhere between 12 and 14 years old, and that’s a great time for players to learn the basics that will help them to be the player they want to be, whether it’s a college player or a professional player. If you want to be a professional you have to act like a professional, and it’s good for them to learn it now.”

    Clubs taking part in the kickoff event for the NextGen Series included Celtic FC Florida, Houston Dynamo of Tampa, Jacksonville Youth Soccer Club, Knoxville Soccer Academy, and the VSI Pinellas Flames. Texas-based NextGen clubs Austin Texans Soccer Club, Samba Football Club and SA United Soccer Club will join in for NextGen’s final inaugural-season event in April.

    “This is a very impressionable age, and coming to a facility like IMG and playing on beautiful Bermuda fields and going through a well-structured program during the weekend, if that doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what will,” Mellor said. “I think everything about the weekend has been very positive, and we believe as a league that this is the route they should be taking for player development.

    “Again, I think we’re onto something good. We’re looking forward to all these parents and players going back to their environments and spreading the word about NextGen.”



    The world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex, IMG Academy hosts myriad soccer team training camps each year and has recently welcomed clubs such as the Seattle Sounders, the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, the Columbus Crew, Sweden’s Malmö FF, as well as the U.S. Women’s National Team preparing for the London Olympic Games and the Antigua & Barbuda Men’s National Team preparing for World Cup qualifying.

    To learn more about the NextGen Series please visit

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    USL PRO Feature

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    At first glance, the key moment in Nate Robinson being named the 2013 USL PRO Rookie of the Year was when Richmond Kickers Coach Leigh Cowlishaw decided the then 22-year-old had what he was looking for at the club’s Pro Combine in March.

    According to Robinson, however, the path to his individual success this season began in the PDL with the Michigan Bucks in the summer of 2012.

    “The year before [2011] with the Bucks, we had so many people coming in and out, you would go out to train and if they don’t think you’re up to par then they say you can’t come back to training, and that’s what happened to me, that I wasn’t even invited back to train in a pool of 30 players,” Robinson said by phone recently.

    “Coming back to the Bucks [in 2012] and being able to contribute, I mean, Coach Gary Parsons put a lot of faith in me, and the team was awesome. It was an awesome experience.”

    Robinson helped the Bucks claim the 2012 PDL Regular Season Championship, and while the side lost out in the playoffs, the experience he gained ahead of his senior season in college gave him the confidence he would be able to have a chance at making it in the pro ranks.

    The opportunity to do that came from the Kickers, who announced Robinson’s signing the day before their opening game of the USL PRO season. Determined to avoid spending much of the season on the substitutes bench, Robinson worked his way into the Kickers’ starting 11 for the club’s third game of the season, and immediately picked up two assists in a 4-1 win against Rochester.

    “I think when any player starts contributing, and feels comfortable on the field like they’re making a contribution to the lineup, that’s when your confidence starts picking up,” Robinson said. “You ride on that from there, and then each performance hopefully gets better and better from there.”

    While the Kickers returned a veteran squad, Robinson’s performances made it difficult to omit him from the starting lineup. After picking up five assists in the Kickers’ opening seven games, Robinson scored his first goal in a 2-0 win against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

    “There’s a picture in the Richmond Times-Dispatch of me and Mike Callahan, and the look on my face is just pure emotion, basically,” Robinson said. “I felt like I’d been knocking on the door all season long to score a goal, and to finally break that barrier was just such an emotional high I can’t describe it.”

    As Robinson’s playing time increased, so did his confidence. He also tried to quickly apply the techniques he learned from his more experienced teammates, such as All-League First Team selection Joseph Ngwenya, a veteran of Major League Soccer.

    “[He] seems to know when he has just a half-second to turn, or exactly where a defender is and what positions he can get into and do what he does best, which is dribble at players and go at speed,” Robinson said. “I feel like I have the same attributes as he does, and just watching him, the biggest thing I learned was spatial awareness and just being mentally engaged the whole game. That’s really helping me going forward.”

    Robinson and the Kickers had an outstanding regular season, claiming the Commissioner’s Cup by a point from Orlando City in part thanks to a 22-game undefeated streak. Robinson played a role in that success, finishing the season with four goals and nine assists, but as he and his teammates tried to remain focused on one game at a time, one of the most telling characteristics of the side was the way different players stepped up at difference moments, with late goals from unlikely sources proving key throughout the remarkable run.

    “Those types of games are when you just have certain players step up and put in goals,” Robinson said. “Like Shane Johnson at Phoenix. That’s a guy who started a lot last year, played a ton of games, and this year didn’t play as many minutes. But when he was called upon in a tough road game, he went out and got a huge goal for us.

    “To me, that’s a learning experience I had while I was with the Kickers, that some games you’re not going to play great, but what makes a great team is being able to have certain players step up in that moment, and the whole team wanting to win. Once you step on the field, no outside feelings, just pure grit, and that’s what some of those wins and results came from.”

    Now, Robinson is hoping to use the experience he gained this season. After training with the Kickers’ partner in Major League Soccer, D.C. United, and appearing for the New York Red Bulls’ reserve team in their game against Toronto FC’s Reserves on September 15, Robinson is hoping his award-winning season will open doors for him at the next level.

    “When I first saw that I was a finalist, I was just humbled,” Robinson said. “All of a sudden, everything had come into one little award, and I felt so grateful for that. To move on sometimes in your career, you need to have that, you need to have the accolades, and I think that’s something that’s really going to help me in the future, and I’m really grateful for.”

    Where Robinson has reached, and where he might be headed in the future, also make him think back to where it began.

    “It’s been a ride. That’s the best way to describe it, you know?” he said. “That thought rarely escapes my mind, how lucky I feel, and also how much hard work has gone into it, not just my hard work, but my parents’ hard work, and its finally coming to solidify. It’s such an amazing feeling, and I’m going to take that energy and use it to train harder and work harder.” 

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    USL News Release

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – The 2013 United Soccer Leagues Annual General Meeting (AGM), a celebration of a year of accomplishments and professional growth as well as an important working and educational weekend, is set for December 11-15 at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. The event draws hundreds of owners, executives and coaches from USL’s professional and amateur teams, as well as influential figures from national and international soccer organizations.

    This year’s annual gathering will feature a new class of USL franchises joining the 100-plus existing teams for a combination of business and social activities, including operational, educational and scheduling meetings and annual team and executive awards presentations at the USL Hall of Fame Awards Dinner. The Clearwater Beach setting provides a getaway for families and a welcome escape from winter for the representatives of USL’s professional and amateur clubs that will attend from throughout North America.

    For the third consecutive year the USL AGM will run in conjunction with USL’s Major Beach Soccer National Championships, which will be held on Clearwater Beach December 14-15. This is made possible by the support of the City of Clearwater Parks & Recreation Department and the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission

    “Having the AGM on Clearwater Beach the past two years has revitalized the event, creating a highly productive working environment within a pleasant atmosphere for teams and partners in attendance,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “With the new initiatives USL has begun, and the partnerships we have entered into in 2013, we expect this to be our most important AGM in USL’s 27-year history.”

    The 2013 MBS National Championships will bring more than 130 teams from throughout the U.S. that qualified through a series of 11 Major Beach Soccer and Soccer in the Sand tournaments this summer. They will compete for titles in the Co-ed Open, boys, and girls (U14-U18) age groups on pristine Clearwater Beach, just steps from the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach and the USL AGM.

    The 2013 USL AGM will get underway on Wednesday, December 11 with new franchise orientation, with the majority of teams arriving on Thursday, December 12 for registration and a kickoff social event. Friday, December 13 includes a full day of meetings and special seminars including individual league meetings, player registration, broadcast operations, international affiliations, marketing and communications, and social media.

    The annual USL Hall of Fame Awards Dinner concludes Friday’s festivities as the teams gather to honor the teams and executives for their performances during 2013 and the induction ceremony for the USL Hall of Fame. The AGM continues Saturday, December 14 with continued league meetings and scheduling, and closes the morning of Sunday, December 15.

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    NextGen Series Feature

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – One of the major components of the NextGen Series, which opened this past weekend at IMG Academy, is the program’s focus on training and development. As part of the on-field work incorporated into the weekend’s sessions, the U12-U14 boys and girls in attendance were put through Ignite 360 testing by IMG staff to gauge their performance levels as they begin the process of becoming well-rounded players.

    “It’s a testing protocol we developed after about 30 years of work we did here looking at things like strength, stability, movement, both laterally and linearly,” said Dr. Taryn Morgan, IMG Assistant Director of Athletic & Personal Development. “We wanted to see how we could put together a score, basically, of where people are starting and where they get to. We use a lot of different tests to evaluate that, and it comes up with one overall score out of 360.”

    Players were put through nine different tests as part of the opening session, with standard tests such as the broad jump, vertical jump and “L-Cone” run being employed alongside tests that were designed with soccer players in mind. While explosiveness and agility is a key in many sports, the endurance required in soccer meant the addition of a 300-yard shuttle run and interval test to challenge the players both physically and mentally.

    The testing also gave the IMG and USL instructors on hand a chance to watch the players up close, with details such as running technique being put into focus as well as the player’s techniques for passing, heading and tackling.

    “We see here young players doing the 40-yard dash,” USL National Technical Director Peter Mellor said. “You look at their running technique, their styles, whether they’re flat-footed, not pumping their arms the way they need for speed, at this very early age you can start to correct those basic problems with movement.

    “The game, particularly at the top level, is very fast, and obviously your technique in terms of your running becomes very important, but even change of direction, and we have change of direction exercises, and being able to check out going left and back to the right is crucial in a player’s make-up.”

    Each of the players in attendance will continue to work on their explosiveness and endurance as part of the training curriculum as they return to their clubs for the upcoming months of training and scrimmages, with the goal that when they return to IMG in the spring their I360 scores will have improved.

    Morgan believes that the baseline this weekend’s testing will give the players a goal to reach for as they work alongside their teammates to improve all facets of their game, on and off the field, with the hope that they will take one overriding lesson away from the weekend.

    “I think just seeing how integrated everything can be, and how much different things are a part of soccer,” Morgan said. “This is the first step, this is where you’re starting, now let’s learn and train and educate and get better, and then let’s see where we can get you to through your hard work and your effort that you’re putting in out on the field.” 

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    PDL Feature

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    TAMPA, Fla. – Northwestern’s contingent from the Chicago Fire PDL continued to play a key role this past weekend, with Chris Ritter being the latest to step up as the Wildcats moved up to No. 7 in the latest set of NSCAA Division I rankings. Ritter, a graduate of the Fire Academy, had the game-winning goal in each of the Wildcats’ victories this past weekend to lead the PDL alumni taking national and conference honors for their performances in the past week.
    Ritter was named the Player of the Week as Northwestern extended its winning streak to six games thanks in part to his first two goals of the season. The senior, who was also the third consecutive Wildcat to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors, opened the scoring in a 3-0 victory against St. Mary’s on Friday night, and then converted from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win against Fairleigh Dickinson, which earned him MVP honors at the Lakeside Classic.
    Ritter’s teammate with the Fire PDL, Harrison Shipp, claimed’s Player of the Week honor after he led Notre Dame to a win and a draw during the week. Shipp scored the game-winning goal as the Irish took a 3-0 win against Michigan, and then scored the equalizer as his side earned a 1-1 draw on the road against Boston College.
    A number of PDL players joined Ritter on the TDS Team of the Week, with Houston Dutch Lions defender Bradley Bourgeois earning selection as he played a key role in Tulsa’s 4-0 win against Valparaiso, where the Golden Hurricane limited their opponents to four shots. Bourgeois also claimed Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance. He was joined by former Orange County Blue Star defender Steve Birnbaum of Cal, who scored in both of the Bears’ victories against Colgate and the College of Charleston.
    The Ventura County Fusion’s Connor Drechsler was also selected as he helped Cal Poly extend its undefeated streak to four games. The senior scored in both contests as the Mustangs defeated San Francisco and Yale. The Ottawa Fury’s Abe Keller earned selection as the midfielder led Dayton to wins against Ohio State and IUPUI with three assists in two games.
    The Baltimore Bohemians’ Geaton Caltabiano, who had 15 points in 14 games this summer, earned his selection after he recorded two goals and two assists in a pair of wins for UMBC. The Retrievers took a 3-2 overtime victory against Navy last Tuesday, and then defeated Loyola, Md., which Caltabiano previously played for, 3-1 on Sunday afternoon. Caltabiano also claimed the America East Player of the Week award, joining Bohs and UMBC teammate Pete Caringi, who has twice won the award this season.
    In conference honors, former PDL standout Patrick Mullins was named ACC Player of the Week after he scored twice in Maryland’s 3-1 victory against Clemson. A standout for the New Orleans Jesters, Mullins is the reigning MAC Hermann Trophy holder, and now has four goals and three assists this fall.
    The Portland Timbers U-23s Mark Sherrod, a 2012 PDL All-League selection, earned American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors as he had a goal and an assist in Memphis’ 2-0 victory against Cincinnati in the Tigers’ opening conference contest. He was joined by Reading United’s Jimmy Ockford, who took Defensive Player of the Week as Louisville shut out Central Florida 3-0.
    Sherrod’s teammate with the Timbers U-23s, Eric Miller, was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week as the U.S. U20 international led Creighton to a 1-0 victory against St. John’s in its conference opener. The Real Boston Rams’ Fabio Machado was also honored as he earn the Big East Offensive Player of the Week award after he scored both goals in Providence’s 2-0 win against Boston University to keep the Friars undefeated (5-0-2).
    Austin Aztex goalkeeper Devin Cook, who helped his side claim the 2013 PDL Championship, was named the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Week as he recorded a pair of shutouts as Coastal Carolina claimed a pair of victories. Cook made three saves in a 4-0 win against Presbyterian, and four in a 1-0 win against then No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth as the Chanticleers upset the Rams.
    OC Blues Strikers forward Enrique Cardenas claimed Big West Offensive Player of the Week as UC Irvine upset No. 11 UCLA 3-1. Cardenas had a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to give him four goals this season.  He was joined by former Ogden Outlaws goalkeeper K.C. John, who took Defensive Player of the Week honors after he recorded 11 saves across a pair of contests for UC Riverside. John had five saves in a 1-1 draw against Cal State Bakersfield, and then six as the Highlanders took a 2-1 win against UNLV.
    K-W United goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod claimed the Missouri Valley Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week honors as he recorded back-to-back shutouts in his first two starts for Drake. The freshman had a standout performance as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 victory against No. 14 New Mexico as he made six saves for the program’s first win against a ranked program since 2009.
    Former Western Mass Pioneers goalkeeper Borja Angoitia was named the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Week as the Quinnipiac junior recorded 10 saves in a 0-0 draw against Army for his second consecutive shutout.
    Former North Sound SeaWolves forward Jesse Klug claimed the Patriot League’s Offensive Player of the Week award for a second consecutive week as he led Bucknell with both goals in a 2-0 victory against Seton Hall.

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    W-League Feature

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    TAMPA, Fla. – Siena’s Brittany Pfaff continues to dominate the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this season, earning her third MAAC Offensive Player of the Week nod in the season’s first five weeks. Pfaff, who led New York Magic – F.A. Euro with eight goals and an assist in 11 games in 2013, notched her first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal in double overtime, in the Saints’ 3-2 win against Vermont on Sept. 18. Pfaff twice brought the Saints back from deficits late in the second half, before ending the match in double overtime.
    A pair of Atlanta Silverbacks were honored by the SEC this week, with Georgia’s Laura Eddy named Offensive Player of the Week and Florida’s Savannah Jordan named Freshman of the Week. Eddy, a 2010 Silverback, scored the second goal in a 2-1 win against 17th-ranked South Carolina. It was her first goal since Oct. 17, 2010 – a total of 1,069 days – after missing the last two seasons with ACL injuries.
    Jordan, a 2013 All-League forward who was recently featured by the W-League, turned in her fourth multi-goal match of the season, scoring both goals in the opening half of Florida’s 3-0 win against Alabama. She is the first Gator to have four multi-goal matches through a season’s first nine matches.
    Former Colorado Rush goalkeeper Kelsey Wys continues to be one of the dominant college keepers in the country, leading FSU to 1-0 shutout wins against North Carolina State and then-No. 1-ranked North Carolina to earn ACC Player of the Week honors. It was the third player of the week honor of her career for Wys, who pushed her league leading total to seven this season. She faced 20 shots and totaled 11 saves, including a season-high nine in FSU’s win against North Carolina.
    Wys and 2013 Pali Blue Mackenzie Doniak of the University of Virginia were the only two W-League players included in the Team of the Week, with Doniak tabbed after she scored the tying goal and then assisted on the game winner in a 2-1 defeat of Boston College. She then tallied twice at Pittsburgh, including the game winner, raising her goal total to eight.
    A pair of W-League regulars earned American Athletic Conference honors this week, led by Laval’s Valerie Sanderson, who was named Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after a three-goal weekend and a 2-0-0 stretch by Memphis. She totaled seven points on the road, scoring once in the Tigers’ 2-1 win against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday and adding two goals and an assist in a 4-0 shutout of FAU on Sunday.
    UCF junior Carleigh Williams, a 2012 member of VSI Tampa Bay FC, earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after anchoring a UCF defense that broke No. 10 Georgetown’s 16-game home winning streak on Thursday, earning a 1-1 draw in Washington, D.C. The Knights then returned home on Sunday to rout FGCU 4-0, holding the Eagles to only two shots on goal.
    Long Island Rough Riders goalkeeper Diana Poulin, who 6-4 in 10 games this season, was selected as Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after she made 14 saves to help St. John’s play to a scoreless draw against Dartmouth. The freshman owns a 0.26 goals-against average this season.
    Toronto Lady Lynx goalkeeper Hope Sabadash was named Southland Conference Goalkeeper of the Week after she recorded five saves each 1-0 road wins for Southeastern Louisiana against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and McNeese State. The freshman has not allowed a goal in her past 425 minutes in the net and currently leads the conference and ranks 11th in the nation with a 0.35 goals-against average.

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    PDL Feature

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – After being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the University of Indiana has taken a precipitous fall out of the rankings after struggling in non-conference play. The Hoosiers will try to turn things around on Sunday, with the help of some Chicago Fire PDL alumni, as they open conference play with a visit from Ohio State that can be seen on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m. ET.

    The Hoosiers, who began the week with a record of 3-3-1, will look for strong performances from former Chicago Fire PDL forward Jacob Bushue, who is tied for the team lead with six points and two goals. Fellow Fire PDL players Dylan Mares, Harrison Petts and Patrick Doody will also be expected to step up after recording in a goal and an assist apiece in the Hoosiers’ opening seven contests.

    The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have received key minutes from VSI Tampa Bay FC’s Alex Harrison, with the English senior having chipped in a goal in his seven appearances this season after appearing 10 times for VSI this summer. Joining Harrison in the Buckeyes defense has been Mississippi Brilla defender Alex Bujenovic, who made 10 appearances for the Brilla before returning to Columbus.

    The weekend’s other televised action comes from the west coast, where Stanford visits UC Santa Barbara for a non-conference clash on at 10 p.m. ET on Friday night. Both teams contain players from the Ventura County Fusion, with the Matadors being currently led by Achille Campion with three goals and one assist. Former Chicago Fire PDL midfielder Goffin Boyoko also has three goals for UCSB.

    Stanford, meanwhile, is led by the Fusion’s JJ Koval, who has a pair of goals in six appearances for the Cardinal this fall. Fellow Fusion player Brandon Vincent has started all six of the Cardinal’s contests this fall, and has been joined in the side’s defense by the Sounders FC U23’s Aaron Kovar, who has recorded a pair of assists in his sophomore season.

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    NextGen Series Feature

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    BRADENTON, Fla. – While most elite youth soccer leagues are focused on competition, the NextGen Series was born from a different mindset. The focus of NextGen is on getting to the players at a young age and teaching them all the facets needed to become an elite-level player, while also educating coaches and parents to produce a support team pulling in one direction.

    One of the most important – and unique – aspects of the NextGen Series is the off-the-field classroom instruction that players, coaches and parents from 11 teams took part in at NextGen’s kickoff event at IMG Academy. Classroom sessions run by IMG Academy’s world-renowned experts included Athletic Body Management, Nutrition & Mental Conditioning, and Parent Education.

    It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for the young NextGen participants.

    “It’s a normal, everyday thing that we do here at IMG Academy, but so many athletes outside of our walls unfortunately are not exposed to it, or the exposure comes late, whether it’s in college or even after that,” said Dr. Taryn Morgan, IMG Academy Assistant Director of Athletic & Personal Development. “The earlier we can educate and the earlier we can expose them to some of these things, it makes them aware of it so that they can grow and get better and learn about it. It also gives them a clearer path of things that can help enhance their soccer, rather than just the on-field.

    “They learn about athletic body management, which is how to manage before practice and games, during, and after. Also taking care of their body, regeneration, pre-generation - all the different things that can help them sustain and hopefully avoid or prevent injuries as well.”

    Nutrition was a large part of the weekend’s focus, with players, coaches and parents all learning the secrets to improved performance.

    “Nutrition is such an essential thing - the fuel that you’re putting in your body,” Morgan said. “Are you putting the basic unleaded gasoline, or are you putting premium fuel in the body? They learn what are the right choices? What’s the timing? How do you get yourself hydrated the best you can?”

    Coaches are a key element in the NextGen philosophy. The youth initiative was developed after more and more coaches bemoaned the increasing focus on game results in youth soccer, and the lack of focus on player development at the younger ages. Helping coaches to change that mindset among players and parents is a key.

    “I think parent education is an important part of the whole puzzle in player development because not only does the player need to know what he needs to do to get better, but if the parent knows too it helps the parent to reinforce on a daily basis those things that have been taught to the player, and then it becomes habit,” said Eddie Loewen, U13 and U14 boys coach at the VSI Pinellas Flames.

    “It’s also important for the parents to learn the basics about nutrition for athletics and how to physically prepare before a game and before training, regarding rest and time management. They also learn how to communicate to their kids and how to help them in different situations. With the parents knowing this they will be able to positively support the players.”

    Many of the parents in attendance were impressed by what they heard during the weekend, and took some valuable lessons home with them.

    “Based on the knowledge side, and what they’re trying to teach the children, it helped us as parents to know how to ask questions of our child,” parent Todd Seitzer said. “It’s important not to say, ‘how was the game, did you win?’ It’s more of asking them ‘how did you play? How did you think you played?’ Try to get them up and try to get their experience of what they got out of the game.

    “Now I’m not going to try to say, ‘you need to always go out there and win,’ it’s more, ‘you need to go out there and give 100 percent, try your best. You win or you lose, it doesn’t matter what the score is as long as you do your best.’”

    Seitzer said the entire weekend was an eye-opener.

    “I know with my child, he’s loved everything out here,” Seitzer said. “It’s an experience to see what it would be like to be in this type of environment 24-7.”

    Morgan said it was important to reach the players at a young age, so the lessons learned could become habitual and afford the athlete every opportunity for achievement.

    “The more additional things you can do, and the more tips and tools you have in your toolbox, the better you can be out there when it’s a pressure situation, or it’s that last minute of the game, or going in strong to win a header or win a tackle,” she said. “The more tools you have, and the earlier you get them, the better off we think you will be.”

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  • 09/26/13--11:53: Pali's Doniak Leads Virginia
  • W-League Feature

    Thursday, September 26, 2013

    TAMPA, Fla. – No. 1-ranked Virginia faces off against No. 18 Duke on Thursday night, with W-League alumni on both sides in a key ACC clash that highlights the weekend’s NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer schedule available online and on national television.

    The game, which will air on the ACC Digital Network at 7 p.m. ET, will feature the Pali Blues’ Makenzy Doniak, who leads the Cavaliers with 21 points and eight goals this season. Doniak is backed by the Washington Spirit Reserves’ Molly Menchel, who has four goals this fall as Virginia sits on top of the standings with a 9-0-0 record.

    The Blue Devils haven’t fared as well, going 4-4-2 overall and just 1-2-1 in conference play. They have been led, though, by the Long Island Rough Riders’ Kim DeCesare, who has three goals and an assist, while former Cary Clarets standout Mollie Pathman has two goals and two assists.

    The SEC and Florida freshman standout Savannah Jordan take center stage on Sunday afternoon as the Gators visit Missouri on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET. Jordan, who was an All-League selection this summer for the Atlanta Silverbacks, has 10 goals in nine games this fall at UF, and is looking to add to that total as the Gators aim to remain undefeated in conference play.

    The Tigers, meanwhile, have had an up-and-down season, but are hoping for a good performance from former LA Strikers midfielder Dominique Richardson. The senior has scored two goals and added three assists this fall, helping Missouri sit just above .500 overall.

    Elsewhere, key conference contests are featured across a number of networks, with Thursday night seeing former Long Island Rough Riders standout Crystal Dunn leading North Carolina as it visits Pittsburgh on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. ET in pursuit of another victory in ACC play. Dunn has scored nine goals in nine games for the Tar Heels this season, while Satara Murray, who helped the Pali Blues claim the W-League Championship this summer, has played almost 700 minutes in 10 appearances, including six starts.

    Also on Thursday night, LA Strikers All-Western Conference selection Rachel Daly leads St. John’s as it hosts Xavier on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. ET. Daly leads the Red Storm with 11 goals in eight games, and will play a crucial role as her side looks to start conference play with a victory. To do so, she’ll have to get past former Dayton Dutch Lions goalkeeper Katie Marksbery, who has five shutouts and a 0.74 goals-against average in eight starts this season.

    The Pac-12 Network features Washington State’s visit to Oregon on Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET, with the Cougars having received strong performances so far this fall by former Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Nicole Setterlund. The junior sits second on the team with three goals and one assist, while fellow former Whitecap Gurveen Clair has posted 0.34 goals-against average with six shutouts in nine appearances.

    Sunday afternoon sees games from the ACC on the air, including Virginia hosting Maryland in its second big contest of the weekend on at 2 p.m. ET. The Terrapins have received solid production from Washington Spirit Reserves midfielder Ashley Spivey, who has four goals and two assists, while her Spirit Reserves teammate Shannon Collins leads the team with five assists.

    Also on Sunday, Florida State and reigning College Soccer News Player of the Week Kelsey Wys travel to take on Clemson, also on ESPN3 at 1 p.m. ET. Wys, who previously played for the Colorado Rush, has recorded a 0.29 goals-against average and seven shutouts for the Seminoles this fall, but could be tested by a Clemson side led by the Carolina Elite Cobras’ Tabitha Padgett, who has three assists while leading the Tigers to a 5-2-2 record.

    Michigan and Laval Comets standout Nkem Ezurike also feature on Sunday afternoon as the Wolverines host Minnesota on the Big Ten Network at 1 p.m. ET. Ezurike leads the Wolverines with six goals and six assists, having recorded a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win against Iowa in their last outing.

    Meanwhile, out west, the Pac-12 Network has three games available, with Washington and Seattle Sounders Women players Isabel Farrell and Lindsey Elston visiting Oregon State and Sounders Women teammate Jenna Richardson at 5 p.m. ET.

    UCLA’s game with Arizona is also available at 5 p.m. ET, with the Bruins currently being led in assists by the Pali Blues’ Sarah Killion, who has five. Fellow Blues standout Abby Dahlkemper leads the Bruins in minutes with 740, having led a defense that has conceded only three goals in nine games.

    Killion and Dahlkemper’s teammate with the Blues this summer, Elizabeth Eddy, will feature in the second game of the Pac-12 Network’s doubleheader as Southern Cal visits Arizona State at 7 p.m. ET. Eddy leads the Trojans with five goals this fall, while former LA Strikers goalkeeper Caroline Stanley has posted a 0.88 goals-against average.

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