The 2012 Thanksgiving ODP Inter-Regional Tournament is set to kick off in Casa Grande, Arizona on Thursday, November 22nd. The event consists of four 18 player teams, one from each Region of the United States. The process for selecting the teams started nearly one year ago with district ODP trials during the winter followed by state combines in June, the inter-state tournament and finally the Region II Hold-over camp. From that extensive process, which included players from 13 different states in the midwest (ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IL, WI, MI, OH, IN, IA, MN, KY), 18 players were selected to represent the Region II team at the Thanksgiving Inter-Regional Event. Two players selected for that 18 man roster are from Southern Illinois and both are members of the SLSG Metro Pre-Academy program.
SLSG Metro '99 Pre-Academy player, Jack Maher ('99) is one of only two players selected to the 18 man roster who were born in the second half of the birth year. According to SLSG Metro Pre-Academy Director, Blake Decker, "Jack's inclusion as one of the youngest players in this team which is dominated by players born in the first 3 months of the year is no surprise. In addition to being a two footed player with a high level of technical quality, he possesses a tactical insight, level of competitive maturity and leadership quality that are well beyond his age. He is an extremely committed young player who has a bright future in the game." Maher, who was a member of the BFC-SLSG Metro Pre-Academy South program in 2010 and 2011, currently captains the SLSG Metro '99 Pre-Academy team which competes in the Midwest Developmental League and has also appeared for the '98 Pre-Academy on several occasions.
According to SLSG Metro Director of Coaching, Jeremy Alumbaugh, "Its an exciting opportunity for Jack Maher to be representing the Midwest Region at the ODP InterRegionals. An opportunity that he has earned by putting in extra time during the past number of months. Jack has a great personality on the field and that has allowed him to adjust to different playing environments, whereas some players when they are out of their comfort zone tend to become more quiet, Jack excels. This opportunity is also a reflection of the talented teammates that Jack plays with here at SLSG Metro and the competitive training environment they create for each other."
Jack will be joined by a fellow Pre-Academy player, Gabriel Kash ('99). While only in his first season of training and playing under the direction of the SLSG Metro Pre-Academy program, Kash, who hails from Marshall, Illinois has already made his presence known. Most recently, he scored the game winning goal in SLSG Metro's final National Premier League match of the fall season thereby securing the '98 Pre-Academy's 1st place finish in the Gateway Conference of the Midwest Developmental League for the fall 2012 season. According to Decker, "Gabe has been a wonderful addition to the program and has tremendous potential as a young soccer player. In addition to a high level of athleticism and technical skill, Gabe has a very innate school yard soccer sense and creativity that is not typical of many players in the midwest. His "outside the box" view of the game makes him a very dangerous and effective attacking player."
The Region II ODP team will compete in matches versus Region I, Region III and Region IV during the 5 day event which will be scouted by National Staff making Maher and Kash part of a growing list of young SLSG Metro players who've have been identified and selected to National Team Identification programs in the past several years. Most recently in October, Orlando Arreola ('99), Lexi Grote ('98) and Emily Holton ('99) attended the US Club ID2 camp held at the Oakwood Soccer Complex in Connecticut. In the past 5 years, SLSG Metro has placed 3 players directly into Youth National Team camps, 9 players into Youth National Team Identification programs and 6 players into regional identification camps.
The SLSG Metro staff congratulates both these dedicated young men on their wonderful achievement and wish them the best of luck in Casa Grande this week. To follow their progress, view scores as well as receive live updates from the 2012 Thanksgiving Inter-Regional event please click HERE.