FAYETTEVILLE – Even though they have signed national letters of intent and are getting ready for their first semesters of college, six University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer recruits are still on the field participating in the United States Youth Soccer Regional Tournaments.
Last weekend Boise, Idaho’s Kylee Mesler and Littleton, Colorado’s Kathleen Paulson played their way through the region 4 tournament and beginning on Friday, a quartet of Lady Razorbacks including Fayetteville’s Jackie Booker and Sophie Wentz, Rachel Smith from Charlotte, N.C., and Kat Moffett from McKinney, Texas attempt to win their respective region 3 tournaments.
“One of the things that I am excited about is that these tournaments keep our incoming players competitive throughout the summer,” Arkansas head coach Gordon Henderson said. “They get to play at some of the highest levels and compete against the best teams. If they were not playing, then their competitive seasons might end in May and not be on the pitch from then until August is a long time. It keeps the players fitness levels up and gives them that competitive edge that they’ll need heading into the fall.”
The regional tournaments are designed in similar fashion to the ongoing World Cup Soccer Tournament in that teams are divided into groups and must finish in the top two of their group to advance to the knockout round. In the Under 19 girls division, Moffett leads the Sting Dallas Royal ’87 team in group A while Booker and Wentz each play for the Oklahoma WC HFC 88 Lundy squad.
“There is no under 19 team in northwest Arkansas at the moment,” Henderson said. “In order for Sophie and Jackie to continue their playing experience they had to make a choice between Tulsa and Little Rock and picked Tulsa because it was closer to home.”
The North Texas squad plays South Texas on Friday, Tennessee on Saturday and Oklahoma NOKC on Sunday while Oklahoma WC faces Louisiana on Friday, Arkansas on Saturday and Georgia on Sunday.
Smith is playing in the under 18 division for her North Carolina CSC Blue squad over the weekend in what might be the toughest group of the under 18 tournament. Her team faces Georgia on Friday, PL West (Texas) on Saturday and Mississippi on Sunday as they look to advance to the knockout stage.
For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.