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Archive for June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013 — PREVIEW: National Futures Tournament

So, for the first time, I’m actually writing an advance on this tournament. And it’s not the easiest thing to do, given the fact that, for the last couple of years, the rosters of the teams have been pretty much a blind draw to prevent Pennsylvania Region 5 from winning the gold medal.

That being said, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

U-14 NFT
There are eight teams competing for the gold medal in this division. Many of these players are still in middle school or are rising ninth-graders. The tournament does an unusually good job of identifying the next generation of star player; Tara Puffenberger and Michelle Vittese are amongst the athletes who have come through with immense performances when they were at this age group.

Neither Erin Matson nor Margaux Paolino, the two 14-year-olds on the senior indoor national team, are in this competition. Either could be a reason for any of these to win gold, but instead the coaches are going to have to rely on what they have.

Instead, Team Salt Lake City appears to have a strong chance; three of the members of the team are from hockey families. Allison Biting’s older sister Morgan won a state championship last fall with Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.). Mackenzie Kile’s older sister Morgan also won a PIAA title last fall, but with Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.). Olivia Perrone’s older sister Gianna, who played her field hockey at Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), is matriculating to the University of Louisville.

Another team to watch is the de facto “home” team, Squaw Valley. Three Virginia Beach residents — Liliana Clarkson (Norfolk Academy), Charlotte De Vries (Cape Henry Collegiate), and Riley Fulmer (Norfolk Academy) — are in the side. Will they give this team home-field advantage? We’ll see.

U-16 NFT
As usual, 16 teams compete in this division. And, like in the U-14 title, hopes rest on the shoulders of players who helped win championships a year ago on their varsity teams.

Grenoble midfielder Abby Julius is a hard-working rising junior at Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.), the current PIAA Class AAA champion. Not to be outdone, Team Melbourne has Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) rising sophomore Elizabeth Dessoye.

I think one team with a good chance in this age group is Mexico City. Sofia Palacios of Herndon (Va.) is a good all-around player who can pass or shoot. Look also for Team Beijing, who is likely to be led by Dana Bozek, whose two older sisters played with distinction at Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.).

But the team that could possibly run the table in the tournament is Sochi. The team is the only one with two athletes — Emily Carbone and Alanna Gollotto — from the sending districts that feed Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), plus New York’s Baylee Burghardt, who comes from a field hockey family.

U-19 NFT
Of the 16 teams in this year’s competition, one jumps right out at you, and that’s Team Stockholm. Taylor Omweg is a highly-skilled player from Yorktown Tabb (Va.), and Kyla Cordrey plays for a successful program at Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.).

I think Team Moscow will do very well; Brooke Hiltz from Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) should benefit from having played at the National Training Center on numerous occasions. Berlin should also contend, but it will have an interesting dynamic. On the roster is Jade Dixon of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), who will be coached by Lisa McCoy, whose daughters Emily and Erin played for Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) a year ago, and faced Eastern in a thrilling 5-4 contests that rated as the No. 1 Game of the Year last fall.