Pine-Richland’s Ava Boyd turns heads at soccer showcase

Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Ava Boyd boarded a plane to Florida knowing she was going to play in a soccer game with some of the best girls in the country.

She came home with an experience to remember.

Boyd, a junior at Pine-Richland, showcased her talents in the Elite Clubs National League U16/17 national selection game Jan. 8 at The Premier Sports Campus in Bradenton, Fla.

Boyd represented the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy at the event. Players were selected by ECNL staff through a combination of scouting and recommendations based on performance. There were 36 players chosen for the game out of the 80-plus teams in attendance.

Boyd was on the East team, which won 6-4.

“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. … It was the best experience ever,” Boyd said. “The ECNL directors picked players throughout the league to play in this game. They split the teams into East and West and we met for the first time when we warmed up. All the players were amazing.”

Sydney Lindeman (Franklin Regional) represented the Riverhounds in the U18/19 selection game.

There were plenty of Division I coaches in attendance to scout. With covid changing the landscape of recruiting, the showcase provided a big opportunity for college prospects to be scouted in person.

Riverhounds Academy director Scott Gibson wasn’t surprised to see Boyd picked for the selection game. Along with training with the Riverhounds, she has trained virtually with the US National U17 team.

“She’s big, strong striker and very good in front of goal,” Gibson said. “She holds the ball up very well and certainly has a bright future. At the selection game, every single school you could think of was in attendance. She’s got a big decision coming up in the next month to six weeks on where she’s going to verbally commit to college. She’s going to have some big Power Five schools knocking on her door.”

Boyd is still working through narrowing down where she wants to play in college.

“The whole process has been fun,” Boyd said. “I’ve been able to talk to a bunch of different coaches on the phone and get to hear everything they have to say. I’m really excited to commit and see where that takes me.”

Boyd also played in two of the three games the Riverhounds played in at the showcase, and the team went 1-0-1 in the games she participated in. She had to sit out the first game of the Riverhounds’ weekend slate because she was playing in the selection game the same day.

Aside from playing with and against top talent, another element that enhanced the experience at the selection game was having all the girls from teams at the showcase in attendance to watch. That included her teammates from the Riverhounds, who Boyd said gave her plenty of support.

“They brought signs for me and cheered, which made for a super cool environment,” Boyd said. “There were maybe 1,000 people there and for me, it was an adrenaline rush. All the girls in that game have learned how to play under pressure, so it helps you more than it hurts you. For some it might be nerve-wracking, but I think the nerves help.”

The Riverhounds have one more showcase in Houston in February before getting into ECNL league play in the spring.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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