La Roca joins US Soccer's girls development academy program; teams finalized

Sunday , June 04, 2017 - 10:28 PM

RYAN COMER, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — U.S. Soccer has provided youth male soccer players an advantage over their female counterparts for the last 10 years.

If the boys are good enough, they can be invited to train at a professional club’s academy, such as Real Salt Lake’s academy in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Starting this year, girls will enjoy a similar benefit. U.S. Soccer is launching the Girls Development Academy Program. The girls program will utilize similar principles to the boys program, which according to the U.S. Soccer web site, “serves as the elite player development model for the country and has significantly improved the everyday environment for players, coaches and clubs.”

69 clubs, including Layton-based La Roca, will be part of the girls academy.

“It’s an incredible honor,” said Adolfo Ovalle, technical director for La Roca. “I’m sure that the number of clubs that applied to be part of this league was hundreds and hundreds … but you have to meet certain requirements.”

Each club in the academy will be broken up into four age groups (U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19). See La Roca’s rosters for each team below. 

Each of the four teams will play the same schedule. The regular-season schedule for the 2017-18 season was announced Thursday, and La Roca will play 21 games, starting and ending with contests against Portland Thorns FC.

La Roca will start the season at Portland on Saturday, Sept. 2, and conclude the season Saturday, May 19, 2018, with a home game against Portland. The playoffs will conclude in July.

The academy is broken up into seven regions with La Roca in the Northwest Region. La Roca will play teams from California, Oregon and Washington.

La Roca’s home games will be played at the Regional Athletic Complex in Salt Lake City.


Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 — at Portland Thorns FC

Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 — Crossfire Premier

Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 — PSV Union FC

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 — San Jose Earthquakes

Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 — at Lamorinda SC

Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 — at Placer United SC

Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 — Portland Thorns FC

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 — at Crossfire Premier

Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 — at Seattle Reign Academy

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 — Burlingame SC

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 — at San Jose Earthquakes

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 — at California Thorns FC

Saturday, March 3, 2018 — Placer United SC

Saturday, March 10, 2018 — California Thorns FC

Saturday, March 24, 2018 — at Seattle Reign Academy

Sunday, March 25, 2018 — at Crossfire Premier

Saturday, April 21, 2018 — Lamorinda SC

Saturday, April 28, 2018 — Seattle Reign Academy

Saturday, May 5, 2018 — at Burlingame SC

Sunday, May 6, 2018 — at PSV Union FC

Saturday, May 19, 2018 — Portland Thorns FC

Players in the academy will not be permitted to play in outside competition, such as for high school teams or the Olympic Development Program. La Roca will still field premier teams, and players on those teams will have no such restrictions.

Ovalle said those in the academy will enjoy stronger competition and greater exposure to college coaches and scouts from the U.S. Women’s National Team.

La Roca Director of Operations Heidi Wheelwright, whose son, Joseph, played in the Portland Timbers academy and is now playing at Utah Valley University, said it’s “just a whole other level for the elite player.”

“They want to become professionals or they want to get college scholarships, so they’re all so focused,” she said.

La Roca’s academy rosters were released Sunday with 62 girls named to the four teams. The U-18/19 and U-15 teams are comprised of 15 players each while the U-16/17 and U-14 teams each have 16 players.

La Roca’s academy rosters are as follows:

U-18/19 (Head Coach: Pancho Ovalle)

Emily Garcia – Judge Memorial

Kendyl Baker – Davis

Grace Nelson – Syracuse

Alyssa Ulugalu – Weber

Rylee Hunsaker – Fremont

Sofi Papastamos – Skyline

Makenna Mumford – Waterford

Olivia Wade – Davis

Courtney Talbot – Fremont

Marli Niederhauser – Mountain Crest

Anna Escobedo – Olympus

Baylie Christensen – Clearfield

Macy Martinez – Murray

Sadie Noble – Sky View

Ellie Maughan – Weber

U-16/17 (Head Coach: Felipe Diaz)

Hallie Fernandez – Timpanogos

Devi Dudley – American Fork

Rachel Twede – Alta

Paola Garcia – Maple Mountain

Rebecca Siddoway – Bingham

Alyssa Huff – Fremont

Maggie Reynolds – Bonneville

Sidney Roberts – Weber

Rylee Tatton – Weber

Kate Harrison – Viewmont

Heather Stainbrook – Alta

Lauren McConnell – Mountain Crest

Abbie Kotter – Ridgeline

Adree Johnson – Weber

Taliana Kaufusi – Skyline

Paige Easter – Skyridge

U-15 (Head Coach: Adolfo Ovalle)

Sophie White

Aspen Seaich

Sae Obayashi

Gabrielle Carlson

Makiya Christensen

Laleh Lonteen

Oakley Rasmussen

Madeline Callahan

Adelyn Boer

Taryn Barraclough

Halle Van Yperen

Ellie Walbruch

Rylee Lopaz

Elizabeth Carlin

Abby Bloxham

U-14 (Head Coach: Felipe Diaz)

Swayzee Arnell

Karime Antonio Lopez

Tayiah Lambert

Marielle Andiarina

Karli Burton

Aya Obayashi

Berlyn Dibble

Celine Butters

Whitney Avei

Ellie Kotter

Grace Kirby

Brooke Taylor

Caroline Bitner

Victoria Kalista

McKenzie Taylor

Hailey Gadd

Contact Standard-Examiner sports reporter Ryan Comer at Follow him on Twitter at @RyanComerSe and on Facebook.

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