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Girls Mar 15, 2011

Richmond prepares for Jefferson Cup girls’ weekend

Last weekend the Jefferson Cup boys’ tournament drew a veritable army of players, parents, fans and college scouts to Richmond, Va. for three days of elite youth soccer. This Friday it happens all over again – only bigger – as the girls’ weekend kicks off with hundreds of games across Virginia’s capital city.

This year’s event features a bevy of nationally-ranked teams from the East Coast and beyond, including Freestate Elite and FC Frederick of Maryland, Virginia’s Southwestern YA Arsenal, and a growing list of powerhouse clubs from further afield such as Florida’s Kendall Soccer Alliance and the Westside Breakers of southern California.

“The girls’ weekend is actually larger in numbers than the boys’ weekend,” said Richmond Strikers Director of Coaching Bob Jenkins, whose club hosts the Jefferson Cup, in an exclusive interview with Potomac Soccer Wire this week. “We think that’s tremendous. The boys’ weekend went off without a hitch and the girls’ weekend, for the three years that I’ve been here, has always been a really positive experience.

“In the past couple of years, some very high-level teams have come in and it’s great to watch. You can really find some good games and with a couple of the older teams last year, watching the semis and finals, there were some tremendous games.”

The boys’ weekend was nearly marred by heavy rains last Thursday, though a flurry of last-minute rescheduling enabled all of Friday’s matches to take place on artificial turf fields with no games needing be cancelled.

“If anyone ever had a question of whether or not we could pull this off this year, in bad weather, they got their answer [last week],” noted Jenkins proudly. “Oh my gosh, the rain was an absolute torrential downpour that was ongoing for about 24 hours. So to have been able to move everything on Friday over to [synthetic-turf fields at] SportsQuest, to give our grass fields one more day to recover, was just a great picture of how some of the things we’ve done this year really, really helped us out.”

Despite light showers early in the week, the girls’ weekend is expected to take place under clear skies and warm temperatures that figure to be even more pleasant than the mild weather which arrived in time for Sunday’s action. Some of the Strikers’ low-lying grass fields were still soft during the boys’ competition on Saturday, but Jenkins and his colleagues inspected all facilities on Monday and remain confident that their blend of winter rye and Bermuda grasses is prepared for this weekend as well as a full slate of league games this spring.

Jefferson Cup is traditionally known for its diverse, talented slate of participants but its hosts believe the overall event also has much to offer for more casual fans.

“Like always, we’re looking forward to the competition, but also I think it’s a real fun, festival atmosphere at these different sites,” said Jenkins. “So I’m looking forward to seeing the games and talking to some coaches, and just for myself, taking in the atmosphere this weekend.”

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