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My Season Review by Holly Rawcliffe

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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.

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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! 

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Don't know what you want to do??

 

I bet this question comes in to your head a lot… I don’t think many of us exactly know what we want/wanted to do at your age either. As a young lad, I made a decision that for me was definitely life changing. Like many others at 17/18 years old you have to start making decisions about your future. Do I go to university? Do I get a job? I wouldn’t mind going on a gap year, I have the opportunity to move abroad to continue playing football

 

 

All of these ideas in your head are quite hard to make a decision and to know what exactly the right decision for you is. Having been your age and having these thoughts in your head, also making the decision to move to America, completing four years of full time football, and a degree, and finally presenting to student athletes from the age of 16-23 I understand what you are going through. This is why it is very important that you receive all the information you can about all the different opportunities that are available to you.

 

I have been in to several different programmes/colleges over the last couple of months and I have seen a lot of confused faces, a lot of comments made by student athletes that they haven’t thought about what they are going to do once they finish college/6th form/university in the summer. The phase ‘not even thought about it’ is often used, this to me is a little worrying because it can be so easy that you go down the wrong path, or that you lose focus and drive to do something positive with your life. Please start thinking about your future because before you know it, it will be here and then what??

 

Ask you tutors about what they think you should do, speak with your football coaches, talk to your brothers/sisters, mums and dads, speak to people/companies like Soccer Smart. Everyone I have just mentioned wants the best for you, so take their advice, listen to what they say, take on board what you think is important and hopefully this will make you have a better idea of what you want to do.

I will always come back to the opportunity that I took to move to America, play full time football for four years and furthering my education with gaining a degree. This to me was the best decision I have ever made. You might think ok well America isn’t something I would like to do, it may be travelling for a year, and it may be playing football in another country or even just experiencing life away from home…

 

My advice to you is, do it!! If you have the opportunity to see the world then do it, and if you can play football at the same time then great, just get out there and experience life because I know for sure that when you get a little older and you settle down, you will regrets that you never did it!!

If you want to have a chat with any of our consultants then please get in touch with us via our website www.soccersmart.net or by email @ chris@soccersmart.net, we are here to help!!