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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Soccer players travel to the Holland Cup

20 valley girls further their skills in Europe

Express Correspondent

For the first time in the Wood River Valley an all-local Sawtooth United F.C. girls’ high school soccer team has journeyed overseas to compete against Europe’s young talent. They left Boise July 15.

Headed by four local and enthusiastic coaches, a selected group of U-17 girls trained at a three-day soccer clinic in the Maastricht, Netherlands last week and played a friendly game with a fellow American team Monday in Aalden.

Monday night, they made their way to the prestigious Holland Cup tournament, which started Tuesday, July 20 and continues through Saturday, July 24 in the city of Almere outside of Amsterdam.

The Sawtooth United Premier team returns to Boise Sunday, July 25 after a memorable 11-day trip.

The girls’ ages range from 15 to 17. Sawtooth United Premier consists of 20 girls—nine sophomores, three juniors, and eight seniors. Five of the players come from The Community School and the remainder from Wood River High School.

Players for the trip are Ellen Ard, Sara Berman, Calley Brown, Tara Cappel, Krista Detwiler, Cassidy Doucette, Margii Driscoll, Kacie Femling, Kaitlin Gasenica, Brianna Hull-Mullins, Ireland King, Ashley Mardian, Erin McQueen, Gussi Ochi, Jessi Pieschl, Lexie Praggastis (captain), Nicole Schulz, Danielle Smith, Laura Speck, and Gina Thomas.

The young coaching staff consists of Rob Butterfield, Laura Gvozdas, Greg Gvozdas, and Farrell Swain.

Along with putting in practice time, the coaches took it upon themselves to organize the entire trip. Greg Gvozdas and Farrell Swain are the newly-named Wood River High School varsity girls’ and boys’ head coaches, respectively.

The experience on the coaching staff is very deep.

Greg Gvozdas coached many of the traveling girls on his 14-0-1 Wood River JV girls’ soccer team last fall. He played for the DePauw University men’s soccer team for four years. Laura Gvozdas, a 1997 Wood River High School graduate, played four years for the DePauw University women’s soccer team in Greencastle, Ind.

Swain has coached the WRHS JV boys’ soccer team for the past two falls and was also a member of the University of New Hampshire women’s soccer team for four years. Butterfield was a member for the Boise High boys’ soccer team and the UC Davis men’s soccer team. He was also an Olympic Development Player for Idaho.

Also helping with the team this summer were trainers John Koth and Karoline Droege of Ketchum.


Recent results

Sawtooth Premier did well in its first two friendly matches this past week.

On Sunday, the local girls defeated Noorbeek Dutch 8-1. Margii Driscoll and Tara Cappel each scored twice. Single goals came from Ashley Mardian, Cassidy Doucette, Nicole Schulz and Erin McQueen.

Sawtooth Premier was a little weary when the Hailey girls clashed with Jersey United Monday, but they still held the big city girls to a 1-0 half-time lead. Jersey United finally prevailed 4-0 in the friendly match.

Playing in the rain Tuesday, Sawtooth Premier opened its Holland Cup quest playing to a 1-1 draw with TSV Reichenbach, Germany. Driscoll scored in the third minute on an assist from Gasenica as Sawtooth dominated play. Germany equalized on one of its few shots, a first-half free kick.

Today, Wednesday, Sawtooth Premier was due to play three games to wrap up the first round of action, against teams from Switzerland, Denmark and Mission Viejo, Cal.

For more on the Holland Cup, visit www.hollandcup.nl


Tryouts, fitness training

It was during last fall’s soccer season that Laura and Greg Gvozdas decided to hold an interest meeting on the possibility of a Sawtooth United European trip this summer.

The idea was to further the soccer and travel experiences of the high school girls.

Getting a strong turnout of 35 girls, the two coaches held tryouts and ended up with a team of 20 girls for the trip.

The Gvozdas’ asked Swain and Butterfield for assistance because of their strong soccer background and because they wanted to drop the player-coach ratio of Sawtooth Premier from 10-to-1 to 5-to-1.

Sawtooth Premier has been hard at work for six months in preparation for the high level of talent they expected to face in the Holland Cup.

The coaches implemented mandatory monthly fitness tests from January through May. Starting in June, the girls began practicing three times a week with their coaches.

The goal was to make sure the girls were in great shape, according to the coaches.

"Ever since June 1, the girls have been extremely enthusiastic and the energy level has been very high," Greg Gvozdas said. "The girls have taken this trip very seriously because they know that the level of competition in Europe is going to be very high."

The team arrived in Europe on July 15 and practiced in the Royal Netherlands Soccer Federation soccer clinic July 16-18.

On Monday, the team met up with Laura Gvozdas’s former travel team, the Jersey United Soccer Club based in Ridgewood, N.J. In the summer of 1996, between her junior and senior years at Wood River, Gvozdas traveled to Europe with the Jersey United Soccer Club coached by Jeff Yearing.

In this week’s Holland Cup Tournament, Sawtooth United Premier competed with teams from Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, and another U.S. team from California.

"Technically we don’t know how we might stand up to the European competition," Laura Gvozdas said before Sawtooth United Premier’s departure. "But we are definitely going to be as fit as possible."

The cost of the trip for each player was $2,069 including travel, accommodations and meals.

Fundraising was a major focus for last few months. Sponsors for the trip were Sawtooth United, Great Northwest, Sun Country Management, Kearns Builders, Smith Sport Optics, Smiley Creek Lodge, Power Engineers, Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton, and Koth Physical Therapy.

The contributions from these businesses helped pay for the coaches’ trips and the team’s uniforms. Each girl received two full uniforms, team jackets, three practice shirts, and travel bags.

Andy Berman and Doug Brown also contributed items for trading. The girls and their coaches will trade items with each team they play after the game, a tradition for teams traveling abroad.

Other fundraising opportunities were with Sun Valley Car Wash and Clearwater Landscaping.

Married for a year, Greg and Laura Gvozdas hope to establish a tradition from this trip in sending local athletes abroad. They hope Sawtooth United Premier will provide a future goal for young valley players.

Although they don’t anticipate taking a team to Europe next summer, they are aiming for Europe again in the summer of 2006.

Next summer, the program hopes to travel to some West Coast tournaments during the summer and possibly train back east, in New York or New Jersey.


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