FAYETTEVILLE – Incoming University of Arkansas Lady Razorback soccer player Kelly O’Connor of Bentonville, Ark., was selected to U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program’s (ODP) Region III Team and invited to participate in the national team tryouts Lady Razorback head coach Gordon Henderson announced on Thursday.
Considered the best player in the state of Arkansas in 2007, O’Connor was a standout performer for both Bentonville High School and the Ingram Futbol Club. She scored more than 90 goals during her high school career and was named a high school all-American, the Gatorade Player of the Year for Arkansas and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s State Player of the Year.
“First of all this is a great honor for Kelly and also for the state of Arkansas,” Henderson said. “She is a home bred player and to the best of my knowledge there are only one or two others from the state have gone this far.”
O’Connor was selected at a pre-college training camp held at the University of Montevallo in Alabama where she played against the best players from the widespread 11-state region. That group of players hailed from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas with only 25 players getting chosen for the elite regional team.
“I also think that it is a testament to Kelly’s will and determination as she struggled through injuries the past two years,” Henderson said. “I think that she is well aware that this is a major hurdle that she cleared and will be ready for perhaps the biggest one in front of her. We are very proud of her.”
As a team member, O’Connor’s participation with the Region III team is put on hold through the fall so that she can participate with the Lady Razorback soccer team. She was asked to stay in top shape through the next five months until the end of December or beginning of January when she will fly to Carson, Calif., to participate in a four-day inter-regional training camp.
Conducted at the Home Depot Center, home to the MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy and new star David Beckham, O’Connor’s Region III team will play games and participate in training sessions with the 25-person squads from Regions I, II and IV. The best of those players will be asked to fill roster spots vacated on the United States’ U20 roster.
O’Connor and the rest of the Lady Razorback soccer team report to fall camp on Aug. 13 with their first game scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31, against the University of Tulsa. For more information about Lady Razorback soccer or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.