The Dakota Alliance Soccer Club’s U13 team is heading to the national tournament.
The team is advancing after winning the U.S. Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Presidents Cup in June. They’ll be the first South Dakota team to play on this big stage since 2013 when the South Dakota United Legacy U16 team advanced.
The Dakota Alliance U13 program’s made up of 45 players, but only 18 athletes will participate in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup next week.
Head coach Brandon Barkus says it’s that work ethic that has this team moving on.
“To be able to coach a group of kids that are eager and willing to you know work hard and get after it has been very, very enjoyable and to see they’re progress over the last couple of years, it’s been really cool,” Barkus said.
Nearly three weeks after clinching its spot in the national tournament, the team’s preparing for the next round of opponents.
“I’m excited for the competition and like ready to see how we do and hopefully we can play how we always play and just maybe win,” team member Sophie Smithback said.
“We play a team from Dallas, a team from Boise, Idaho and a team out of Maryland and so seeing some different competition will be really kind of fun,” Barkus said.
Barkus is keeping his message to the team simple heading into tournament play.
“We haven’t really changed much, we haven’t practiced extra, we’ve just done everything we’ve been doing,” Smithback said.
“I think the reality is just doing what we do and that’s try to be as much blue-collar as we can be and just approach it with a really good, positive attitude,” Barkus said.
Now, that the reality is sinking in, players are excited for their chance to win it all.
“Once we won regionals we were like, ‘Wow, we’re actually going to nationals! It’s a really big deal,’ and so our parents have been really supportive and everyone’s really excited,” Smithback said.
The four-team tournament begins Thursday, July 12 with the championship game on Sunday, July 15.
The unexpected win at the regional tournament has brought unexpected costs for the national tournament. If you would like to help the team click here.