Playing for West Virginia pride
HUNTINGTON -- It was all kiddie stuff, really.
A tug of war between coaches, a mascot 5-on-5 game and a parade of players around the field as music bumped through the speakers.
Lindsey Kerns and Chelsey Maiden didn’t have to be there Thursday. They are 19. The fun and games of the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships opening ceremonies in Joan C. Edwards Stadium weren’t designed for the teams of their age group.
But, the Marshall University women’s soccer players were there. Marching, smiling, happy to take part in the final festivities of their club careers.
“We wanted to be here,” they both said.
“Mainly because it’s in West Virginia,” Maiden said.
Kerns and Maiden are suiting up this week for the U-19 West Virginia Chaos.
About one month from now, they’ll be back in the green and white, beginning training sessions for their sophomore campaigns at Marshall.
“It’s just nice that we get to do it in our home state and it’s our last year (to play club soccer),” said Kerns, a goalkeeper from Hurricane.
“And it’s at Marshall, where we go. So it’s a lot of connections for us.”
The Chaos played its first game of the tournament Friday at the Scott Orthopedic Soccer Complex at the YMCA Kennedy Center on W.Va. 2.
Unfortunately, the Chaos ran into the buzzsaw that is the defending national champion FC Bucks Vipers out of the Philadelphia area. FC Bucks won, 7-0.
Maiden anticipated a stiff challenge.
“These teams, they’re no joke,” said Maiden, a forward from Parkersburg. “But at least we get the good teams to play so we get the highest competition to go against.”
It was certainly a test Friday. Kerns and Maiden are the only players on the Chaos’ roster with NCAA Division I experience. FC Bucks, on the other hand, is basically a who’s-who of young D-1 talent, featuring girls from such schools as Duke and Princeton.
Within three minutes, FC Bucks’ Heidi Sabatura, a Villanova University standout, slipped in free on a well-played through ball, giving Kerns not much of a chance to make a play. Sabtura poked it by, scoring the first of her four goals.
Maiden made good on a couple of diagonal runs to the box, actually generating a scoring chance in the early minutes when she flicked on to teammate Becca Logan, who was streaking toward goal.
Logan didn’t finish, missing just wide, but to Maiden and Kerns, both born, bred and now playing at a high level in the Mountain State, their goals have already been scored by just participating this week.
“It’s just great because I know it brings good money to the state’s economy,” Maiden said. “You know, this is where I go to school so it helps me out in the end.
“It’s just great to have it here in West Virginia.
“Yeah, it’s a good time.”
Maiden, Kerns and Abby Barber of Hurricane, an incoming Thundering Herd player, will continue group play against Maryland’s Betheseda Sharks at 8 a.m. Saturday back at the Scott Orthopedic Soccer Complex.