The Buckhead-based girls’ club soccer team is back for another try in another age group as it plays in the U15 division at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Germantown, Md., Tuesday through July 27.
Tophat 17 Gold, featuring a number of local high school standouts, will be among the eight teams in the Girls’ U15 field.
“In last year’s nationals, the girls were disappointed,” Tophat coach Troy Garner said. “They finished third place in the country and this year, they set the goal to get back to nationals and to try to win it. It’s been a long year and they’ve played very well. They’ve worked very hard to get back to that point.”
Tophat 17 Gold qualified for the nationals by winning the Girls’ U15 title at the Region III tournament in Baton Rouge, La., June 20 through 26.
In the finals, 17 Gold defeated the Jacksonville, Fla., team, named FC 98-99 Elite, 1-0. Forward Chloe Maize, a rising junior at Baylor (Tenn.) and a Georgia commitment, scored the winning goal in the game’s 72nd minute.
Forward Rachel Jones, a rising freshman at Collins Hill, led 17 Gold in the Region III tournament with eight goals, while Maize and St. Pius X rising sophomore forward Caroline Orman each contributed five and Cambridge rising sophomore midfielder Lauren Chang had four.
“They went down to the regionals in Baton Rouge in very tough conditions,” Garner said. “It was very, very hot and very, very humid. We had to play a total of six games in seven days to win. They played hard.
“They played very well and they were fortunate enough to come out on the good side of it.”
Caroline Orman is joined on the team by twin sister Lexi Orman, a rising sophomore defender at St. Pius, and Golden Lion teammate Teagan Thompson, a rising sophomore forward.
The team also features a couple of rising freshmen Westminster players, midfielder Raegan Kelley and defender Ella Shamburger, along with a number of other local rising sophomore standouts, Lovett midfielder Sarah Elizabeth Matthews, Pace defender Jessica Haidet and Woodward defender Kayla Bruster.