The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 20, 2014

Youth soccer: Valley AYSO team bound for West Coast

Selinsgrove U12 win bid to Nationals

Daily Item

---- — By Todd Stanford

The Daily Item

SELINSGROVE -- Go West, young ladies.

That's just what 11 girls from the Selinsgrove area are doing next weekend. On Sunday, June 29, a U12 AYSO team from Selinsgrove will board a plane for California to compete in the AYSO National Games. The week-long tournament takes place in the Southern California cities of Torrance and Riverside.

"The girls have really come together," says Selinsgrove's George Davis, who coaches the team -- called the "River Rippers" -- with his wife Amy. "It's a real pleasure to watch them because you can tell they really want to be with each other."

Selinsgrove AYSO put in a bid for the trip last year and won a lottery for the right to send a team. Montoursville also won the right to send a U12 team, but declined the bid. A U10 team from Montoursville will play at the National Games.

"The girls are ecstatic," Amy Davis says. "I think they're a little nervous as well. ... Some are hoping that they're going to meet famous soccer players. Others are hoping they make new friends."

After months spent on fund-raising efforts, the girls can now just focus on playing.

"It's definitely a relief to know that all the finances are taken care of," George Davis says. "The parents have been very good in their dedication to the team with the fund-raising and getting them to practice. It's been a lot to ask of 12-year-old girls for the last year, and everyone has done well."

The team is guaranteed five games at the tournament, with a chance to advance to the semifinals. Before the games even begin, the players will be involved in "Soccerfest," in which the actual teams are dispersed for the day and players participate with new teams made up of girls from throughout the country.

"They're looking forward to playing with other kids," George Davis says.

The River Rippers -- who include players from throughout the Selinsgrove area and one player from Lewisburg -- have had a successful year. They won their age group in the "Harvest Classic" near Gettysburg back in the fall.

"The girls are amazing," Amy Davis says. "They're encouraging each other, and there's constructive criticism."

Considering the time they're going to be spending together over the next few weeks, that communication could be important.

"We do a lot of team-building activity," George Davis says. "It's not just about soccer; it's about getting the girls to work together. They're going to live in a house together for a week."

River Rippers: Evette Davis, Alivia Ravy, Kaitlin Shaffer, Aleah Longacre, Bailey Slotter, Raine Fultz, Erin Mullen, Sydney Shatzer, Anna Gephart, Grace Long and Sofia Waughen.