It is hard enough to get into the Disney Girls Soccer Showcase, but to come back home with a gold medal from the event is even harder to do.
That’s what four York soccer players did over the holiday break with their club team, HMMS Eagle FC Villa 99. Brittany Arentz and Amanda Bentz of Northeastern, Carsyn Gold of Dallastown and Libby McKeever of Dover all helped their club team win gold in the under-16 division at Disney.
Villa is made up of 17 girls from eight different schools, which includes Northern York, Cumberland Valley, East Penn, Boiling Springs and Lampeter Strasburg. They were the only club team from Pennsylvania to win gold.
“When we went into it we really didn’t know what to expect at all,” Arentz said about the experience at the showcase. “Because every single team we played was from a different state, so we just wanted to go in and play to the best of our ability. We were amazingly shocked that we had the talent to hang with other states. It was just an overall great experience…
“It was just really cool to play other teams and excel down there.”
The Disney showcase is regarded as the No. 1 college showcase in the nation, according to Villa head coach Chris Fox. Showcases are one of several events that help athletes get noticed by college coaches. Over 40 coaches attended the event, which was held from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, from NCAA Division I, II, and III schools.
“We knew going down there that there would be a lot of fantastic colleges,” Fox said. “They do release a list ahead of time as to who is attending, but you never really know who is going to come to your games until you’re actually there… We’re coming away with not only a championship and feel ecstatic about that, but also the number of coaches that came and watched the girls play.”
Some schools have reached out to several of the girls, but because of NCAA regulations there are certain restrictions to how much contact they can have because of their ages.
During their time in Orlando, the girls played four games over four days. They won their first game of the showcase 2-0 over Indy Premier from Indiana. They tied the Triangle Futbol Club from North Carolina the following day and came away with a 3-0 victory over Space Coast United from Florida.
The championship game was a 2-1 win over Concorde Fire Central Elite from Georgia.
The tournament posed several challenges for Villa. From playing in the Florida heat to dealing with the pressure of knowing that there were college coaches watching.
“When we first got to the World Wide of Sports and saw how many coaches were lined up on the sideline, everyone was really nervous,” Gold explained. “But then once we got into a rhythm and when we started playing well the nerves settled down.”
Their club season is far from over – it runs from mid-November to the middle of July – but the girls really came to appreciate the opportunity they had during their four days in Disney.
“Going into Disney they were like this is a really big opportunity for you to get noticed by college coaches,” Gold said. “But I don’t think I understood how many there was going to be there and how many D-I there would be. It was just really cool to know they were watching you. Like they could have wrote your name down and keep you on their list of who to watch for.
Arentz added, “To have all the big D-I (schools) in the nation to be there and to get your chance to showcase what you can do...is just amazing and awesome.”