Randy Angel

U.S. Soccer bans players from high school teams

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Redondo’s Celine Gehrig (left) joins Jaydn Bell and Ayala Lopez as team captains of this year’s Sea Hawk squad. File photo by Ray Vidal

by Randy Angel

Girls high school soccer will have a new look this season. US Soccer has implemented a new rule where athletes participating in its Academy program are not eligible to play for their high school teams.

“It’s going to be a different kind of soccer season this year with US Soccer requiring many top players to skip their high school year,” Redondo head coach Shelly Marsden said. “There has been a big backlash from families affected. But for this year, it is giving new opportunity for many players to play at the varsity level. Fortunately, Redondo Union is deep in talent and perhaps will not be as affected as much many other local campuses.”

In the first tournament of the season, Redondo is set to defend its championship when the 38th Annual Girls Varsity Tournament takes place Friday and Saturday Dec. 8-9, Saturday Dec.16 and Monday, Dec.18.

Most of the games of the 24-team tournament are being played on the campus of South Torrance High School, with some of the games being played at Redondo High School.

Competition begins Friday at South with Pools G (West, Hawthorne, Peninsula) and H (Bishop Montgomery, North, Palos Verdes). Redondo begins at home Saturday competing in Pool E against Torrance (8 a.m.) and Ventura (2 p.m.).

“We return only three varsity players from last year — Jadyn Bell, Ayala Lopez and Celine Gehrig — and they are this year’s captains and expected top performers,” Marsden said. “We have an unheard of nine freshmen on the team this year, so with few returning pieces from last year, it is difficult to gauge our style and our personnel. But at RUHS, I have been blessed with the quality of people that come through our door. We have solid chemistry, work ethic, genuine desire and we look forward to creating together a new era of success in our girls soccer program.”

Freshmen Ava Watson, Taylor Ho, Elle Marine look to get big minutes and an early indication is that Tanner Cahalan will hold down the middle,

Sophie Crouts provides strength up top, Saige Stock will add speed on the sides, and the Sea Hawk defense will be anchored by Kirin Smith.  

Mira Costa begins action at South on Saturday against Pool A foes Cantwell Sacred Heart (8 a.m.) and Notre Dame Academy (2 p.m.).

“I’m really excited about our up-and-coming team. We have four returners and a confident, strong team with great chemistry,” Mira Costa head coach Patty Perkinson said. “It will be interesting this year with the new rule adopted by US Soccer. It’s the beginning of a new era and we’re ready for the challenge.

“I love the South Tournament. Redondo won it last year and we won it the year before so we want to be the Queens of the South Bay again. We return our goalie Ashley Naylor but the entire team as a whole is ready for the season. We have great support from the parents and what I like most about my 30 years of coaching high school soccer is that we get players from all of the local club teams and get to make one team.”

The Mustangs opened the season defeating El Segundo 2-0 last Friday then beat Santa Monica 2-1 Monday. Following the first weekend of the South Tournament, Mira Costa hosts Torrance Monday in a 3 p.m. contest.

Along with Mira Costa and Redondo, other tournament teams beginning play on Saturday are Pool B (Santa Monica, Narbonne, Granada Hills), Pool C (South, Immaculate Heart, Cleveland), Pool D (Marymount, Lawndale, West Ranch), Pool F (El Segundo, Banning, Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks).

Bracket play begins Saturday, Dec. 16 with final games held at South on Monday, Dec. 18. The championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Tournament brackets and results are available at SouthHighSoccer.com.

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