Grapevine’s Christine McCullough (14) heads a ball in district play last season. A new development academy rule could impact the rosters of top teams like the Lady Mustangs next season. Stephen English senglish@star-telegram.com
Grapevine’s Christine McCullough (14) heads a ball in district play last season. A new development academy rule could impact the rosters of top teams like the Lady Mustangs next season. Stephen English senglish@star-telegram.com

Girls Soccer

Development academy rules to impact high school girls soccer

The Lonnquist Notes, by Kevin Lonnquist

klonnquist@star-telegram.com

July 10, 2017 04:41 PM

It’s no secret that Northeast Tarrant County is one of the hotbeds for high school girls soccer. You don’t have look hard to figure out why.

Within the last 10 years, Southlake Carroll won a state championship and played for another title. Grapevine played in consecutive state tournaments, including a state championship game. Trophy Club Nelson has also played in a state tournament. Keller also played in the state tournament.

Talent and depth go together with these programs enjoying such success. They could simply out talent an opponent.

However, the look of NET girls soccer could be changing drastically. Coaches are pensive. Depth of rosters likely will be impacted.

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Beginning this fall, the top girls soccer players are going to be asked to choose between playing for either their high school team or development academy team. U.S. Soccer, which governs the sport, is doing this because it wants to advance the caliber of world-class female players at a faster rate.

I am hoping the players value high school enough to choose not to [play for a development academy team]. But this is going to impact our program.

Philip Salyer, Trophy Club Nelson girls soccer coach

This isn’t only applicable to NET. It’s statewide, nationwide. Soccer between January and April won’t look the same.

Ultimately, U.S. Soccer wants to create enough youth girls national teams that when it comes to selecting the U.S. Women’s soccer team for the Olympics or the World Cup, the standard will be at such a high level that the United States will never yield its rule of the game. Under 14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 teams divisions will be created. Boys soccer has been doing this since 2007.

Nelson coach Philip Salyer knows of one incoming freshman who isn’t going to be playing. He’s also aware of several players who have been offered spots on these year-round programs. Salyer isn’t sure how many will accept.

Carroll coach Matt Colvin speculated that three to eight of his players are evaluating academy opportunities but haven’t made a decision yet. Grapevine coach Steve McBride also has several weighing the pros and cons.

“I am hoping the players value high school enough to choose not to do it,” Salyer said. “But this is going to impact our program.”

Players have to determine how much time they will see on the field should they accept these offers. For those who are willing to do it, they should find out within the first few weeks where they stand.

The good news is that this isn’t an all or nothing scenario. If players realize that they are not seeing the field like they thought, they can rejoin their high school team. Coaches are only concerned about the known factors of their programs. They cannot count on those fringe academy players returning.

As the 2017-2018 school year draws closer, decisions will have to be made. NET won’t see the end of exemplary girls soccer. Carroll, Keller, Nelson and Grapevine will continue to field solid teams. They just may not look like the unbeatable forces they once were.

Notable

After two decades of running the softball program at Grapevine, Steve Bottoms retired and decided to enjoy life a little bit. In June, the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD school board replaced him with Angelina Curtis, who had previously served as an assistant at Coppell. Curtis also spent some time in her career playing semi-pro softball in Germany.