CENTRAL SQUARE — Less than two weeks after the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the 2019 World Cup, a pair of Central Square standouts earned the opportunity to make an impression on the national stage with their club soccer team.
Emma Herrmann and Cora Keohane — each entering their junior year at Paul V. Moore High School — played for the Syracuse Development Academy 16-and-under Gold Team that advanced to the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup held July 18-22 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Herrmann and Keohane, who helped comprise the 16-player roster consisting of Section 3 high school prospects aiming to play in college, each joined SDA this year after playing together on the Syracuse-based Soccer Central club team the previous five travel seasons.
“There were a lot of competitive games and travelling, and it was a really good experience for us as developing players,” said Keohane, a midfielder about to enter her fourth varsity soccer season for the Redhawks that also competes for the varsity indoor and outdoor track teams.
“Everyone really wanted to win and do our best at that (National Cup) tournament, so there were really great games because everyone just put all their effort into it and did their best,” she added. “I was grateful to be able to play against those teams.”
The SDA U16 Gold team finished with a draw against each of the other three clubs in its group at the National Cup — 2-2 against AC Brea from California, 2-2 against Real Arkansas Gold, and 1-1 with Real Colorado Edge Select — to finish third in the quadrant. AC Brea (1-0-2) and Real Colorado Edge (1-0-2) advanced past pool play.
The club stayed in Colorado for five days and was able to work in a few brief tourist visits during the prestigious summer tournament.
“It kind of brought us together,” said Herrmann, a forward that transferred into Central Square last fall after three varsity soccer seasons at Carthage High School. “Everyone was really excited and looking forward to this, and we were focused on it. We really wanted to win this and not let the chance slip.”
Herrmann added: “All the teams we played were at a high level, definitely tough competition, and it just pushed us to play better than we could at all the other tournaments we played. It was a really great environment to play in.”
Herrmann and Keohane helped lift the SDA U16 Gold team to victory in the U.S. Club Soccer Mid-Atlantic Regional on July 2 in Somerset, N.J. to qualify for the National Cup. The club capped off a 3-0-1 weekend record with a 2-1 victory over the PDA Shore Freedom (N.J.) in the tournament championship game.
“I felt like we were the underdogs in that whole tournament, so even being able to make it to the championship for that regional tournament was a big deal for us,” Herrmann said. “Our team lost in the State Cup (earlier in the summer), so this was like a second chance for us and we made the best of it.”
The SDA U16 Gold team also competed in several showcases throughout the spring and summer, such as the Players Development Academy Girls Soccer Showcase held in May on the campus of Rutgers University, and the Eastern Development Program Showcase this past June in New Jersey.
“From when we started, we’ve grown so much as a team and as individual players, we’ve gotten so much better and that’s good to see, and it’s really motivating for next year to see how much better we can get and how far we can go then,” Keohane said.
Herrmann and Keohane have each established a goal of playing college soccer and are in the early phases of the recruiting process. Herrmann, who was named to the 2018 All-CNY Team last year and the 2017 Watertown Daily Times All-North Team following a breakout freshman campaign at Carthage, has made two college visits thus far.
“Any time you play at a high-level competition like that, win or lose, you get a great experience,” said Angelo Carroccio, who is entering his second season as Central Square girls varsity soccer coach. “You’re playing teams from different areas and you’re playing the top teams from all around. That’s something that is valuable. You get to see that process and go against top players from around the country and see where you stack up.”
Despite their busy commitment to the SDA, Herrmann and Keohane each made a point to attend the various Central Square summer team activities whenever possible. The Redhawks held open workouts each Wednesday and Thursday at the high school turf field and competed in the Baldwinsville Summer League.
Central Square finished 12-5 overall and 10-4 in the Salt City Athletic Conference last season and will bring back a majority of its key contributors — including Herrmann and Keohane, last season’s two leading scorers — for the upcoming season, slated to begin with the first practice on Aug. 19.
Herrmann tallied 15 goals and nine assists last season while Keohane registered 13 goals and 11 assists, each finishing as the top two producers in each category.
“That experience is something we can bring to our own game but also to our team,” Herrmann said. “Our team is still developing so we can kind of use our experiences to push other people, and that can transition into our upcoming school season.”