LVS competes against Nationally Ranked opponents in Florida
The Nolan Catholic Women's Soccer team travelled to Florida during the break. They played host to the 1st Annual National Elite Prep Showcase in Florida. NEPS was born 18 years ago in Texas and this year is the first year the event has broken off to form a satellite event out of state. Aside from LVS, ranked #30 in the country, the event included, national ranked and former National champs, St. Thomas Aquinas and American Heritage along with Lourdes Academy from Miami.
LVS head coach and NEPS director, Jay Fitzgerald said, "High school gets a bad rap but when you find the best high school programs in the country and you play them against each other, it mirrors top select soccer and club competition. That is what we have done for almost 2 decades with the National Elite Prep Showcase. Next year we will bring the satellite event to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL."
The Lady Vikings took their unbeaten record to the east coast matching up against the best teams from Florida starting with Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami. Traveling in mid-week, the Lady Vikings rested up, spent some time training on the beach before heading to Miami to take on one of the largest all-female private schools in the country. The weather was not your normal Florida atmosphere as the rain continued to pour all day and all night, the wind was howling, but the temperature was holding close to 70 at kick-off. The game was delayed almost 45 minutes waiting for the officials.
Wasting no time after kick-off the Lady Viking generated a flurry of opportunities going forward, building out of the back, and finding space behind the Lourdes backline only to have those chances pushed away by a stubborn backline. The Lady Vikings were very consistent on both sides of the ball creating chances and not giving up any until 18 minutes left to play in regulation as Lourdes was able to get on board which as the eventual game-winner. The Lady Vikings dropped their first game of the year, 1-0.
Game two can the very next evening against national powerhouse, St. Thomas Aquinas, a 7-time national champion. The start was extremely uncharacteristic for this Lady Vikings team as they found themselves down 2-0 in the first 8 minutes of play. Fitzgerald mentioned, "That start was not us, we were static and reactive but aside from that, this was one of the best games we have played all year and the goal we scored was one of the best goals we have scored all year.
Junior, forward Laci Earixson scored her 14th goal of the season. The game was a little out of reach even after the Lady Vikings pulled within two. The Lady Vikings dropped to 8-2-3 on the season as Aquinas avenged last years Lady Vikings victory at home by the very same score 3-1.
Game 3 came early the next morning at 11:00am against national ranked #20, American Heritage. The tone was set early from the Lady Vikings staying extremely organized against a very athletic Heritage team. With legs heavy after playing 2 games in the last 30 hours, the Lady Vikings needed to count on their organization to get them they first win in the event. "I thought last night was our best performance of the year, but today blows last night out of the water, " said Fitzgerald.
The Lady Vikings mounted several nice build ups throughout both halves, even after they gave away a late counter goal right before the middle of the second half. After creating several corners and half chances in front of the Heritage gaol, the Lady Vikings got a free kick right at the top of the box and senior, midfielder, Mya Ulloa got her direct shot deflected by the wall. Sophomore, forward, Avery Hutka also missed a good chance as Earixson sent a ball across the goal and Hutka just missed at the near post.
The event ended with the Lady Vikings not able to add another win to their prior unbeaten mark coming back from Florida with a 8-3-3 overall record. The Lady Vikings pride themselves on playing the strongest schedule possible and with 2 national events on their schedule and playing some of the top public and private schools in Texas, you can't argue the challenges the Lady Vikings are faced with.
With a good 4 day break including Christmas Day, the Lady Vikings are back at it the day after Christmas in preparation for a scrimmage against UIL 6A power, Keller on New Years eve.