Excelsior FC set for USA Cup

Submitted photo Excelsior FC are heading to the USA Cup starting Tuesday.

The Moose Jaw Excelsior FC Under-19 girls soccer team is about to take the field at one of the largest tournaments on the planet.
A total of 1,168 teams in dozens of age categories from all over the world will take to the field at the 54-field National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. for the USA Schwann Cup beginning Tuesday.
It promises to be the experience of a lifetime for the local squad, who open against Lakes United FC out of Minnesota on Tuesday in the Girls U19 Silver Divison.
“For us first and foremost it’s a great experience for the players, getting them out of the normal Saskatchewan soccer environment and trying something different and new and obviously a little larger than we’re used to,” said Excelsior coach Jason Jones. “We want to make sure it’s an amazing experience for them.”
The local elite soccer program has been planning to take part in the event for many years and finally decided to pull the trigger this fall.
“We’ve been talking about doing different things for a number of years and this was finally the year where we said ‘you know what, we’re doing this’…” Jones explained.
“We’ve talked about it since they were Under-13 or 14 and now all of a sudden it’s upon us.
“We’ve planned this out since October 2016 and have been working toward this ever since. Now we’re a couple days away.”
Excelsior will play a trio of teams from Minnesota in their round robin, with Jones hoping to cross paths from one of the foreign squads — their division includes teams from Spain and Mexico, among others — in a playoff round.
Even if that doesn’t happen, Jones has little doubt the experience will be as positive as can be for the team, especially given the overall scope of the event.
“It’s amazing,” Jones said.
“It’s the largest tournament in the Western hemisphere and the second largest tournament in the world.… I love the fact we’re going to be immersed in the game for the week long period. There are so many teams from so many different places, (1,168) teams, just so many people.”
And that’s not to say they’ll be taking the field just as fillers. Even as one of the youngest teams in the division, they’re hoping for some positive results.
“We have one U19 player, a couple of U18s and then on down,” Jones said. “But I think these girls are going to do relatively well.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they cope with a longer tournament because we just play one game a day until Friday, but it’ll be interesting to see how they do and they’ll represent our program and city very well.”
Excelsior faces Eden Prairie EPSC in their Wednesday game and Euro FC Brigatto on Thursday, with playoff positions set from there.