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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Region III U16s: TNFC out to make Impact

By Chris Ackels

Each of the past two seasons, the Tennessee FC 96 Impact team has made the Region III Championships. And both times, they were eliminated by the eventual regional champion.

This time around coach Tommy Cochran likes his team’s chances and knows that his team is ready to play at the highest level.

“We really do a good job of playing fundamental soccer,” says Cochran. “We put the ball on the ground, connect passes, and just play the game the right way.”

Cochran coaches a roster that includes 11 state ODP players, and almost all of them have started to get looks from Division I colleges. He says the girls’ versatility and their understanding of the game is what has driven them to success in the past.

“The girls really have committed to playing fundamental soccer,” he says. “They have to know how to control the ball, pass the ball, how to move, and how to play the game without the ball. I want them to be comfortable no matter where they play on the field.”

Liza Harbin is a good example. The midfielder covers a lot of ground, and Cochran says that her greatest attribute is her overall athletic ability. Korrie Sauder is a year younger than everyone else on the squad, but she is the sparkplug to this team's offense. Josie Deere, another forward, stands out for her one-on-one abilities.

Cochran knows that Tennessee isn’t known for its soccer, and even says that sometimes the lack of strong local competition could be considered a crutch. The regional tournament, he says, is a good indicator of the gap between bigger soccer states and smaller ones.

“A group like this is closing that gap.”

Pre-Event Favorites

Tennessee FC (Group D) – Hoping it’s “third time’s the charm”
NASA Elite (Group D) – NASA and Tennessee FC are the only two teams returning from last year’s knockout stages
Tophat (Group A) – The Georgia State Cup champions were finalists at the Disney Showcase
West Florida Premier (Group C) – Last year’s Premier League champion is this year’s Florida State Cup winner
Albion Hurricanes (Group A) – They’ve competed in the Natoinal League and Premier League, and they are South Texas State Cup champs

Under-16 Players to Watch

Liza Harbin, MF, Tennessee FC – Covers a lot of ground and sets the pace for Tennessee
Amy Falkin, NASA Elite – Chance to help control pace for NASA
Debra Hahn, F, West Florida Premier – Her offense could define the weekend for West Florida
Beth Coleman, NASA Elite – Region III ODP
Michaela Abam, AHFC – Region III ODP and youth national team player