My Season Review by Holly Rawcliffe

Holly R.jpg


After a lot of time to reflect, recover and review our season, I have decided to write this blog giving an overview of what we achieved during the fall of 2017. We ended our season with a 17-3-1 overall record, and there were definitely many highs and lows encountered. Looking back, starting off with an overtime loss to Lenoir Rhyne was not what we expected, but it was taken as more of a positive than a negative. We knew that we were in for some tough games during the season and that was proved to us right off the bat. After that disappointment, we bounced back and managed to win 14 of our next 16 games, drawing one of the other two, and losing one. The game we drew was against Queens University of Charlotte, and was arguably the most competitive game I have played in since coming to Limestone. We definitely felt like we should have won that game, but to be fair to Queens they gave us a really good game. It was definitely a very enjoyable game to play in.

The game prior to Queens was away at our rivals Belmont Abbey and we managed to clinch the regular season title after winning 2-1. After losing the deciding regular season championship game 2 years ago we felt it was our chance to get revenge and we definitely did this. Our final regular season game saw us grind out a 1-0 win at Erskine and then we were ready to go into tournament play. We were playing well going into conference tournament, and we knew we had to keep our standards high to achieve the 3-peat we were looking for. As cliché as it sounds, anything can happen in tournament play, and so we knew we had to stay focused. We ended up playing Erskine twice in three days as we faced them again in the first round of conference tournament. As hard as it is to beat teams twice, we knew that playing them on our home field gave us an extra advantage. We came out 2-0 winners in that game and advanced to the semi-finals. North Greenville University awaited in the semi-final, after a tough first half against a solid NGU defense, the game opened up in the second half and we put 3 more goals in to run out 4-0 winners.

We went into the final of the tournament feeling confident, we were ready to play our game and win our third championship in a row. Lees-Mcrae College stood in our way. In the first half we had our chances to take the lead but could not convert, but we managed to get the deciding goal just four minutes into the second half. A third championship in the same amount of years was ours and we could finally celebrate. This win meant that we had an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, and we learnt that we would travel to Columbus State University, GA, to face Flagler College. It would be the battle of the Saints and we were ready for the test. The feeling in and around the team was one of positivity, optimism; we felt like we could go there and win. Unfortunately we fell at the first hurdle, we lost the game to Flagler and therefore our season was over. The score line reads a 3-0 loss for us, but that was not a true reflection of the game. It is easy to say now, but we should have been 2 or 3 nil up inside the first 20 minutes. The game should have been over but unfortunately we could not convert. At the end of the day, Flagler took their chances and we didn’t. It was a very hard pill to swallow and the team was very disappointed.

After a successful season we could not advance in the national tournament. However, we know that these tough games and these losses only build us; it gives us something to work on. We are back now for Spring 2018 and are ready to work hard towards our next goals. Click here to read more about Holly and her time in the States.

Holly R 2.jpg



In the United States, there are ultimately three paths to pro; being drafted directly out of college, attending open tryouts hosted by clubs, or attending professional combines held by outside agencies. Unfortunately only about 1% of players get drafted professionally while the rest of the players begin the long road and process to the professional game. Players who were named in the draft but not chosen will be forgotten. Take a look at this table below:



Note: this table represents ONLY NCAA players. So only 6 of the 81 players also represented: NAIA, NCCAA, Junior College and Community college players.

So what is the next step? As common sense one would think to join a semi-professional team and move up the ranks! Prove yourself at one level and you’re bound to move forward! Unfortunately players begin to see how “semi-professional leagues” in the United States prove to be a vicious whirlpool. No promotion. No relegation. No progression. Players find themselves stuck. With this in mind, to play at a true semi-professional level and move up the ranks, it is very important to play overseas. This allows you to prove yourself at one level to play at the next. With so many professional leagues across the world, challenging yourself overseas is a necessity.

Why attend a Pro Soccer Combine - College Soccer 101

There are a total of 60 professional teams in the United States: 22 in the MLS, 30 in the USL and only 8 in the NASL. After college, if you are not selected into one of these teams the extent of your game turns back to Sunday league teams where the competition is low and you’re lucky if there is one practice a week. You’re back to training with a few other players that have similar mindsets and find yourself spending a lot of time passing against a wall. Many players get stuck in soccer purgatory; if they are not drafted, they begin to see how difficult the process is.


This is why it is important to attend a pro combine; it allows you to be seen by other agents and professionals who have more direct contacts to clubs not only in the U.S. but also across the world! As a player, you’ll find that professional leagues are littered across the globe. For example, in the Spanish third tier alone, there are a total of 80 senior teams! That’s more than the entire US in one country and in one tier alone. Coaches, agents and scouts love to find a diamond in the rough, and that is exactly what pro combines can offer.

MLS Player Combine 2018


He’s a teammate of former Ballon d’or winner Kaka as well as former AC Milan and Italy star Antonio Nocerino. He is also seen by some as one, if not the best young player in the MLS and already has 19 appearances for Canada. Of course we are talking about Orlando City’s Cyle Larin who himself has been through the MLS Player Combine!



Cyle, who has an astonishing 43 goals in 85 gamres for Orlando City was the first pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. The SuperDraft setup is similar to the draft you would expect in other sports in the USA. Players will attend the Adidas Major League Soccer Player Combine in Los Angeles in early January where their talent will be evaluated in three games over five days and individuals who impress will be entered into the SuperDraft.

Athletes of ours who excel while out in the States do have the possibility to be involved with this extremely prestigious event! 


College Sport On The Up!

The NFL is without a doubt, the biggest of all US Sports. The whole college sport setup itself dwarfs other sports in the nation with coverage of it as in depth as we may see here in Britain with the Premier League. According to Sporting Intelligence, in 2015 the NFL’s 23 professional teams averaged over 68,000 fans per game with the top 30 college programs averaging even more at 81,000. This is staggering and if combined, would make it the highest attended sports league on Earth. Soccer scholarships in the USA are big business and at Soccer Smart we know all about this!

soccer scholarships usa

This level of popularity has allowed US colleges to create some of the most advanced facilities anywhere in the world which dozens of our Soccer Smart Athletes have been able to discover first hand during their time in the states. Take for example Sean Holmes, Danny Carroll and James Halpin who have excelled during their time out there! Dino James played summer league in front of 8000 fans which is something very few people get to do.

It’s not only the facilities that have been effected by the sizeable revenue of college sports with coaches and staff being paid huge salaries. The defensive coordinator at the University of Oregon has a reported $1.15 million annual salary package which is enough to hire 10 assistant professors! There are several college sport coaches around America with similar salaries to this. As you can see below, some coaches at this level are on absolutely staggering salaries which would rival coaches in premier divisions of other sports all around the world.

American Football coach salaries at college level.

The issue with all of this is that NCAA has a philosophy regarding amateurism and says…

“Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics. The collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”

It will certainly be interesting to see how far this rapid expansion goes and whether the NCAA will have to move away from their ethos in the coming years. College sport is certainly on the rise.

Get in touch with Soccer Smart for more information on soccer scholarships in the USA as well as information on our Spanish Soccer academies! 

Why attend a UK Football Trial?

Why attend a UK Football Trial?

UK football trial in United Kingdom - USA scholarship trial - trials to play in Australia - soccer trial UK - UK football trial London - UK football trial Manchester - UK football trial Birmingham

What to do after being released? Here is Jamie Vardy's story...

Have you ever been released from a football club? Well no need to worry, so was Jamie Vardy. Jamie Vardy got released from Sheffield Wednesday FC when he was 16 years old and now he is playing for Premier League Champions, Leicester City FC. Your football career has only just started! Did you know that Soccer Smart can help you get a club in the UK as well as abroad? You can learn how to get a soccer scholarship in USA from the United Kingdom. So if it’s staying in the UK like Jamie Vardy or going to America and progressing like Luke Mulholland, Soccer Smart would be the smart choice for you! (We can also help you get a club in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Gibraltar and Canada!)

In this blog we are going to find out what steps Jamie Vardy took from being released, to where he is now. 

As soon as Vardy got released from Sheffield Wednesday FC he joined Stocksbridge Park Steels FC in their youth system. From the youth set up, he made his way through the reserves and made his first team debut in 2007. One thing that Vardy had was a passion for football. After getting released, he didn’t just give up, he had the mentality to carry on playing football and wanted to prove himself as a player at Stocksbridge Park Steels FC which would hopefully get his name known and bring opportunities for him to progress further! 


In June 2010, he signed for FC Halifax Town. Within his first season at the club, Vardy was the top goal scorer with 26 goals and he also got the player’s player of the season award. 

A year and a half later he signed for Conference Premier Side, Fleetwood Town. He won yet another award, the Conference Premier Player of the month award in November. Vardy got 31 league goals that season and helped Fleetwood town get their first ever promotion to the Football League. He also was the top scorer in the Conference Premier! 

Did you know that Blackpool manager Ian Holloway wanted Vardy and offered Fleetwood £750,000 for him? Fleetwood declined as they wanted £1million for Vardy and a loan back to the club!

In May 2012, Vardy signed for Leicester City for £1million, which could be worth £1.7million with add-ons . Vardy wanted to quit football after his first season at Leicester as he lost his form and got some stick from Leicester City fans on social media. 

In the 2013-14 season Vardy found his form and got 16 league goals which helped Leicester City win the Championship, getting promoted to the Premier League and he also got named Leicester’s Player’s Player of the season award! 

In the 2014-15 season, Vardy got nominated for Premier League Player of the Month in April and helped Leicester City finish 14th in the Premier League. 


In the 2015-16 season, Vardy got Premier League Player of the Month in October & November . The fifth ever player to win the award in consecutive months. He then beat Van Nistelrooy’s record by scoring in 11 consecutive games. Vardy is in the PFA Team of the Year and helped Leicester City FC WIN the Premier League! Lets not forget to mention he is also playing for England!

Is it all about the money?

If football is your priority and not money, the money will soon enough come. Jamie Vardy started on £30 a week for playing for Stocksbridge Park FC . He also had to work 12 hour shifts in a factory! His wages at Leicester City have recently doubled from £40,000 to £80,000 per week! He now gets paid 2,667 times more money than what he did when he started! £79,970 more to be exact! PER WEEK! Plenty of money for Jamie Vardy's Parties! 

Not quite got where you want to be in football? Don't quit, Vardy didn't and look where he is now! Soccer Smart can help you if you have recently been released or haven't quite made it to where you want to be. UK or abroad, we can help! Sign up for our next trail at by clicking HERE

Learn how to get a soccer scholarship in USA from the United Kingdom by attending one off our UK Football Trials