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The Girls Academy Jul 11, 2024

Players to Watch: Girls Academy 2024 National Finals

(Pictured Above: Class of 2026 Tophat 08 Gold standout Sydney Snow)

The Girls Academy National Finals kickoff July 11 with teams from across the league competing to win top honors and cap off their 2023-24 season with a National Championship.

From July 11-14, the GA’s best U14-U17 teams from across the country will travel down to Richmond, Virginia for the postseason event. The U13 and U19 Championships were decided at the GA National Playoffs and Summer Showcase Tophat SC Gold (U13) and So del Sol (U19) winning their respective age groups.

Ahead of the National Finals, here are some players to know from this year’s event. Players are listed according to their graduation year.

You can nominate also nominate a player who has stood out this season that will be attending the event through the following link.


Kiera Sleicher


After a tough 3-2 loss in their Group G to Lou Fusz Athletic, Philadelphia bounced back to rip off two consecutive wins against RNY FC Youth (6-1) and Tonka Fusion Elite (1-0) to book their spot in the Quarterfinals. Sleicher played a pivotal role in their resurgence building attacking chances through the center of the pitch. In open space, she is comfortable using either foot in driving at opponents and making the little cuts necessary to avoid losing possession.

Bagged three goals and added two assists, including a critical pass for the game-winner against the Michigan Jaguars to book the Galaxy’s spot in the playoffs. Barriball weaves through defenders, using her speed and precise touches to break defensive lines and give her team the best chance at goal. She can play at either the forward or winger positions and is more than comfortable at using either foot while moving towards goal.

Nicole Sacek | Midfielder-Forward
Galaxy SC 09 (IL)

An expert at creating space, Sacek’s distribution skills have opened up play for Galaxy all season and helped them maintain their shape. She can drive into the attack when needed, but is also more than capable of servicing a teammate with a diagonal pass on either wing. She was selected to participate in this year’s Midwest Talent ID event and has previously been invited to a USYNT ID Center training in 2023.


Delia Loughnane | Attacking Midfielder-Forward
South Shore Select 09 (MA)

Named to the USYNT U14 Talent ID camp last year, Loughnane has continued her strong run of form this season for South Shore. The 2023 Girls Academy National Finals Golden Boot winner scores goals for fun and can hit shots on target from anywhere inside of the eighteen yard box. She led a scoring barrage for Select in the Group Stage, who buried ten goals in the back of the net to win Group A (2-0-1, 7 points).


Morgan McKelvey | Forward
FC United Soccer Club 09 (IL)

Takes on multiple defenders and always seems to find a way to break through giving her teammates great service in the box. A hard-nosed forward that will do whatever takes to put her team in good situations, McKelvey leads by example and will be difficult for defenses to hold back.


Lily Heron | Forward
Phailadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 09 (PA)

Provided a consistent attacking presence up top for the Ukies in the earlier playoff round, scoring three goals and adding two assists. Heron has excellent ball control and uses it to break defensive lines. Her crosses into the box always seem to be on point and she can deliver high and low balls right at teammates.


Finley Newell


Playing up as 2026 on Lonestar’s 07s Newell has looked more than comfortable playing in an attacking position against older opponents. She also showed that she can deliver in clutch moments, scoring the equalizer against Long Island SC to deliver a critical draw. In addition to playing for the Republic of Ireland at the youth level she will also be the captain for Georgetown High School next season.

Payton Norman


Alternates between the center back and right back positions for Fram’s 08s using her tactical savvy and precise tackling skills to hinder opponent’s advances towards goal. Norman was a key cog in Fram’s five league shutouts this season earning herself an invite to the GA’s Southwest Talent ID event. She has lightning speed (in track and field her personal best in the 100 meter dash is 13 seconds) which she uses to make quick track backs on the counter-attack.

Sydney Snow | Midfielder-Forward
Tophat 08 Gold (GA)

Alternating between the midfield and forward positions Snow galvanizes the Tophat attack with her darting runs at goal and precision passing. She has an excellent sense of when to put her foot on the gas and when to step off, giving her team time to reorganize and, if they are holding the lead, eat up the clock. She was selected to participate in the upcoming GA National ID Event but will be unable to participate due to Tophat making the Quarterfinals.


Malia Shen | Midfielder-Forward
Galaxy SC 08 (IL)

Possessing a crafty right foot that can bend balls around defenses and on target, Shen is a dangerous attacking piece for Galaxy’s 08s. This season, the Galaxy scored an impressive 6.74 goals per game while maintaining a perfect record in Midwest Conference. Shen played a major role for their attacking success using her technical prowess to break defenses down and creating attacking chances. Shen and Galaxy SC have proven that they can deliver under pressure, having won two USYS National Championships with Shen adding two high school titles with Naperville Central.


Kayla Butki | Defender-Winger
Nationals 08 Blue(MI)

Seamlessly transitions Nationals from the defense into the midfield slotting crisp one-touch passes to her teammates throughout the pitch. Butki has excellent field awareness and can sense when opponents are moving closely into her passing window. Alongside her 08 teammates, Butki has won multiple championships in the Girls Academy titles (2022 National Championship and three Champions Cup) and will be looking to add one final trophy into their cabinet before heading to the ECNL.


Brooklyn Anthony | Outside Back-Forward
Lonestar SC Red 07 (TX)

Operating mainly as a wingback, Anthony can use her speed and clean touches to push Lonestar into the attack and give her defense some respite. She also has a knack for sensing when to hold on to the ball and focus on possession giving Lonestar a measure of flexibility. Lonestar had three tough group games in California, but showed their resolve in pulling off a close 1-0 victory over Baltimore Armour and a pair of draws against Long Island SC (0-0) and Columbia Premier Soccer Club (1-1).


Parker Dieck | Center Back
Lou Fusz Athletic 08 (MO)

Proved in the Group Stage why she is one of the best center backs in the country by holding two potent attacks in Sockers FC (5-0) and Keystone FC (5-0) scoreless. With attackers on her back, Dieck always seems able to make the right decision at the right time. Her coolness under pressure will help LFA in the Quarterfinal stage.


Brimmer Mather | Midfielder
NEFC 08 (MA)

Provides relentless energy through the midfield for NEFC, funneling passes from the defense up into the attack. Mather has an excellent sense of timing and can gauge when the right time to pounce is in the transition. Off of the ball, she can also make the right moves to give herself space to create attacking chances.


Jocelyn Blahnik | Goalkeeper
SC Wave 07 (WI)

Booked Wave’s second consecutive appearance in the National Finals with back-to-back shutouts against FC Tucson (3-0) and NEFC (2-0) in the National Playoffs. Blahnik thrives under pressure and can make the difficult saves in crunch time that can rally a team when they need it the most. She is a three-time ODP Regional Team member and a three-time State Champion with De Pere High School.


Ava Gialanella | Defender
IMG Academy 07 (FL)

Provided a high level of support in the defensive third for IMG, playing a pivotal role in their back-to-back 1-0 victories to finish out Group A play and clinch their spot in the Elite Eight. Gialanella marks her opponents closely giving them little space to work with. She can also play in the midfield giving her a strong understanding of how to maintain possession. Ava has verbally committed to playing college soccer in 2025 at Northeastern.

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