WAV United rolling through competition, eyes nationals|[6/16/05]
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005
Sports fans in Warren County have often wondered how a team made up of the area’s best players would do against the best from other parts of the state.
Thanks to the WAV United soccer team, they don’t have to wonder any more.
WAV United, an under-19 girls team made up of former Vicksburg Soccer Organization and current high school players from around Warren County, has decimated nearly every opponent that’s crossed its path in the last 10 months.
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The team has compiled a 33-1-1 record since September and will chase a national championship this weekend when it travels to Little Rock, Ark., for the U.S. Youth Soccer National League Director’s Cup for Region III. The tournament features teams from 12 southeastern states, ranging from North Carolina to Texas, and begins Friday morning.
The WAV United qualified for the Director’s Cup by winning the President’s Cup last month in Vicksburg.
“We’ve played mainly Division II teams. Every Division II tournament we entered, we won. That’s in Mississippi and Louisiana,” United coach David Case said, referring to the lower of two levels in youth soccer. Division I is for full-time select teams, while Division II allows more time for players to participate in high school or recreational soccer.
“The reason they’re as successful as they are is because they work hard,” Case added. “They put their heart into it. This group of girls is willing to play, to do the hard stuff.”
The WAV United is an unusual collection of all-stars. Most of its members play high school soccer in Warren County, and several are bonafide stars.
Goalkeeper Kristi McCain, for example, signed to play at Pearl River Community College after helping Vicksburg High to the Class 5A South State finals. Kari Lieberman was Warren Central’s leading goal scorer, while Erin and Rebecca Sigh were key members of St. Aloysius’ girls team.
The long-term relationships built from playing for the United have spilled over into the high school game, McCain said, and kept any rivalries from getting too out of hand.
“It’s not really a problem. We’re all friends out here and we all have our rivals. We do trash talk out here, but we have fun with it,” McCain said. “Our chemistry is great. We get along really well, and being together as long as we have, it helps a lot.”
Although the WAV United seems like a select team, Case bristles at the suggestion.
The core of the team has been together for about five years, and is made up solely of players from the VSO. It also regularly plays up in competition. The team is open to players under 19 years old, but only three are older than 16.
“I don’t know that you’d call us an all-star team. We’re just a rec team. We’ve played all these years as a recreational team,” Case said. “We’re listed as U-19, but we’re actually a U-16. We only had three 19-year-olds that played for us, and that’s why we had to roster as a 19-year-olds’ team.”
The strange mix of skill and handicaps has Case unsure of what to expect this weekend.
On one hand, his team is obviously talented enough to have a good showing against some of the best teams in the region. On the other, many of those teams are coming from states that are rich in soccer tradition, have been together as long as the United, and may have older, stronger players.
“When you’re playing teams from places like North Carolina, they have a rich soccer history,” Case said. “There’s some anxiety about playing some of these teams. But they’ll do fine.”