The Leesville varsity women’s soccer team kicked off the season with a scrimmage against Fuquay-Varina. The Pride defeated Fuquay 8-1 in a lop-sided battle.
One part of the Pride’s success would be newly added attacking midfielder, Kelsey Reeves, freshman. The young Reeves started off her high school career with one assist. “She played great and she will probably be starting for us as a freshman,” said Coach Paul Dinkenor.
However, earlier in the year Reeves was not sure if she would be playing high school soccer. Already playing competitively for CASL, (Capital Area Soccer League) Reeves would have to make a decision whether or not to keep playing CASL or try out for the Leesville team.
CASL had previously only offered a fall season for high school girls, giving them the option to play high school in the spring. However, CASL now is offering both season to its players and coaches are pushing their players to stay with their CASL team year long.
Coach Dinkenor first discovered Reeves during her seventh grade year at West Millbrook; he also knew that she would be attending Leesville high in two years.
Coach Dink knew that she had great potential to become a strong player. “She was by far the best player on the field [during a middle school game],” said Dink.
Reeves continued playing soccer for CASL until this summer when Coach Dink contacted her. “I wanted to let her know about what a great experience playing high school soccer is.”
Dink did not want to push Reeves to play high school soccer like CASL coaches push their players to only play in their league. Reeves did make the decision to play both CASL and high school soccer, and so far has no regrets. “The first game went better than expected,” said Reeves, “it was really fun.”
Many high school players like Reeves can balance playing for both a CASL and a high school team, but it is not only the freshmen who have to make the decision. Caroline Gentry, sophomore, also decided to play for the varsity team. Because she has made the commitment to Leesville, she now only practices with her CASL team about once every three weeks. Gentry will also travel with her CASL team to some tournaments on the weekend.
Gentry “likes the variety,” of high school soccer because it allows her to interact with the school and community. Gentry likes the experience of playing high school soccer, but also believes that CASL will help her more with getting a scholarship to play soccer in college.
The CASL teams continue playing national tournaments year long, giving players more opportunities to be noticed by college scouts.
Claudel Pilon, senior, has played for the Leesville varsity women’s soccer team since her freshmen year. Her decision to play high school soccer did pay off with a partial scholarship to North Carolina State University. Pilon had been playing CASL soccer since the age of ten, but decided to play for Leesville when she reached high school because it would be a great experience and a better challenge. “Playing with 18 year olds when I was only 14 helped me get stronger and become a better player,” said Pilon.
Although Pilon did get a partial scholarship to NC State, she still believes that CASL helps players tremendously when it comes to getting looked at by college scouts. “I think if players are looking to play out of state then CASL helps them get recognized by those schools, but if they want to play in North Carolina, most coaches are willing to come watch their high school games to look at them,” said Pilon.
It seems to be a trend throughout Leesville women soccer players that the best way to prepare for the next level is to stick with CASL but also balance high school soccer because of the great experience it gives players.