Franklin Regional soccer player excited for national title opportunity
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Cassidy LeDonne's first trip to the regional soccer championships turned out as well as she could have expected.
Now, she's hoping for even more.
LeDonne, a rising senior at Franklin Regional, was a member of the Beadling Soccer Club team that won the under-17 title at the Region I Championships earlier this month in Kingston, R.I. The team, called the Thunder, will now compete at the 2013 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, which will begin Tuesday and run through July 28 in Overland Park, Kan.
“I never imagined myself winning regionals because I've never been on a team that was real competitive and had a bunch of girls that were as dedicated as I was,” LeDonne said. “So becoming state cup champion and then becoming regional champion this year all in one year was so exciting for me.”
This year marked LeDonne's first at Beadling Soccer Club. She played previously for a team called PA Crew, which never advanced to the semifinals of the PA West Cup. Only the PA West titleist advances to the Region I Championships.
LeDonne was recruited to play for Beadling after playing against the club last year in a tournament.
“I want to play soccer in college, and I just felt like Beadling was a good choice for me to get exposed to college coaches,” LeDonne said. “I realized if playing in college was something I really wanted to do, I had to make myself a better player. (At) Beadling, the girls on the team were at higher competition, so it made me a better player and gave me exposure to colleges.”
LeDonne, who plays center back, believes practicing against the top forwards at Beadling — the team has several Division I prospects — made her a better defender.
The team also plays against top competition from around the country during the fall and spring travel seasons.
“I'm honestly playing (against) the best forwards in the country,” LeDonne said. “And I like that challenge, just because it makes me a better player. The competition is very high-level. These girls have tons of skills, (and) the movement of the ball is very fast.”
At the Region I tournament, Beadling was matched up in a four-team pool that included Match Fit Chelsea Beat, a New Jersey-based team that was the No. 1-ranked team in the country at the time. The Thunder beat Match Fit, 1-0, and advanced out of the pool with a 2-0-1 record.
In the semifinals, Beadling defeated ISA Sting from eastern New York and moved on to the championship game, where the Thunder defeated Massachusetts-based Aztec Soccer, 3-1.
LeDonne said the team would be practicing a lot harder in the days leading up to the national championships.
The winners of all four regions advance to the tournament. Beadling is ranked No. 3 in the country heading into the tournament.
“We're just going to have to give it our all at practices,” LeDonne said. “We're going to have to have fun, but not necessarily mess around a lot because we all have a goal to win nationals. We have to work a lot harder in order to be best prepared for it.
“Honestly, any team can win on any given day, but I feel like we have a pretty good shot at winning it.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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