GREEN TWP. – The Cincinnati West Soccer Club is heading to the big time. Cincinnati West’s U17 girls’ team won four games to win the Region II championship in St. Louis in June to advance to the President’s Cup National Championships for the first time in club history, per Kevin Spraul, Cincinnati West’s director of coaching.
Nationals are July 9-12 in Overland Park, Kan., against teams from three other regions, where the U17 girls will have three pool-play games, then either a championship or consolation game. The other teams still remaining hail from Washington, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Spraul, who coaches the U17 team in addition to being the girls’ varsity soccer head coach at Walnut Hills High School, said the U17 team is comprised of athletes from Harrison High School, East Central (Ind.), Mercy, Oak Hills and McAuley.
“We have really come a long way in terms of the players we’re starting to get,” said Spraul, who’s coaching the U17 squad for the first time this year. “This is our top team in our club, and the first time a team (from Cincinnati West) has ever advanced to Nationals.
It’s quite the accomplishment for a club team that’s been around since 2003, Spraul said.
“It doesn’t happen all that much,” he said. “They’ve gotten to the Midwest Region Championship before, but never past that.”
Spraul isn’t worried about nerves rattling his team on the big stage.
“They’re not nervous, they’re very excited … they don’t know what to expect. We’ve had a three week break and they’ve been kind of waiting for it (nationals) to get here,” Spraul said. “We’ve played a lot of high-level teams. I probably get more nervous than them. The atmosphere doesn’t seem to phase or affect them.”
Even more impressive is the turnaround this team has made since last fall.
“In the fall, when we played after the high school season, I don’t think we won a game, I think we went 0-6-1,” said Spraul. “We had some players leave and new players come in. The biggest thing has been them buying in and playing for one another. We really rely on team chemistry.”
In the spring, Spraul’s squad really progressed to form, and didn’t lose a game. Spraul said Heather Runk (Mercy) led Region II with five goals, and goalkeeper Logan Lake (Harrison) led Region II in shutouts (three) and fewest goals against (one).
Megan Aufderbeck, Claudia Dawson, Jenna Gresham, Claire Herzog, Nicole Hopkins, Kelsea Kinnett, Ashley Kuchenbuch, Logan Lake, Sammie Petri, Maddie Rechel, Kaitlyn Reid, Kiley Rodgers, Heather Runk, Hannah Schloemer, Gretchen Smith, Madison Wiedeman