Strikers' season ends in semifinals

Strikers' season ends in semifinals

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Strikers' season ends in semifinals

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Alan Oates coached the first Murfreesboro Strikers team to ever play in a US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships last year when an 18-under Strikers team reached as an alternate to help fill out a bracket.

Now, Oates has coached the second.

Oates was the head coach of the Strikers 95 that reached this year’s Southern Regionals, which is currently being held in Greeneville, N.C. The only distinction from last year was this year’s team was the first in Strikers’ history that qualified for the Division I regionals.

The Strikers 95 reached the semifinals before bowing out of the tournament with a 4-1 loss on Monday to FC Alliance, which is based in Knoxville.

“It was a great experience for us,” Oates said. “This is a good group of girls on this team.”

The roster is comprised of players from Blackman, Oakland, Siegel and Smyrna. The majority are rising sophomores with a couple of upcoming juniors.

“It would have been awesome to go farther,” said Siegel sophomore Callie Ruf, a defender on the team. “I”ve been playing with this team since I was 10. We’re like a family.

“It was hard to lose, but we had a good experience. I hope we can do it again.”

The Strikers finished the season with a 19-6-8 record. They went 2-1 at the state tournament, finishing third and 2-1-1 in the regionals. The Strikers qualified as a premier league team.

“We were second in the premier league behind Brentwood,” Oates said. “Overall, a lot of them started on their (high school teams) as freshmen.”

Oakland sophomore Madeline Rose said advancing to the semifinals helped raise the team’s soccer level. It forced them to play at a high level.

“We got to play teams that were really good,” Rose said. “That made us step up as a team, and showed what we can do. I know many didn’t think we could do it, but we’ve worked hard this past year.”

Rose said she watched the Southern Regionals last year. It was held at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex with 184 teams from across the southeast. Rose was one of many local volunteers at the event.

“I went last year and helped out,” Rose said. “We were able to see the teams that made it and how they enjoyed it. We worked harder this year to be able to do it ourselves and enjoy it.”

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