What High Schools team play the beautiful game?

I am curious. For those of you (refs mainly) who see a lot of different teams in a season, what HS teams would you say play the game the way it was meant to be played?

I am not talking about teams that win on physical soccer, set plays, flip throws, corners, etc.

One could argue that set plays and direct style are a critical and legitimate part of the game, but let's save that for another day. I am talking about creative, skilled, fun to watch, possession type soccer.

This is not about winning games. It is easy to win by sacrificing style, finesse and creativity.

I am tired of seeing highly skilled players not being successful in HS because they can't win balls out of the air, aren't big enough to run through people, or are not physical enough.

Again, I realize that physical play is part of the game, but I am talking about playing the beautiful game. It frustrates me as a youth trainer that we spend hours and hours on ball skills when kids are young and they get to HS and sit the bench because they don't run through people or crunch others on headers.

So who are your teams? I would like to come and watch them in the tourney and congratulate their coaches after the game for taking the high road.
 

ohiosoccer1

New member
I think most coaches would love to play this style, but with a season that is only three months long, and pressure from stakeholders to win, and a roster of much more varied quality than any club team, implementing this style can be hard. Some kids are multi sport athletes and don't play club, but can still make an impact with speed or athleticism.

I agree with you that the high school model may not be best in total overall development of players, but I think most coaches work with what they have to the best of their ability. It is just a different game.
 
This is a bit of a silly question. (1) I don't know that the "beautiful game" exists in girls high school soccer. (2) Who cares how "beautiful" the game is if you aren't physical enough to win/keep the ball? (3) Those associated with the best high school teams will take physical, athletic players over smaller, weaker, more "skilled" players every time. (4) Ball skills are very important, but only to the extent players are physical enough to bang bodies and keep the ball.

That's what sets players like Alexis Goins, Brooke Harden, and Becky Dean apart - they're physical, strong, and also technically gifted players. There is a baseline of physicality necessary to succeed at the highest level of high school soccer. You can have all the fancy footwork in the world, but if you can't meet that baseline, you won't see much of the field for the top teams. Period.
 
This is a bit of a silly question. (1) I don't know that the "beautiful game" exists in girls high school soccer. (2) Who cares how "beautiful" the game is if you aren't physical enough to win/keep the ball? (3) Those associated with the best high school teams will take physical, athletic players over smaller, weaker, more "skilled" players every time. (4) Ball skills are very important, but only to the extent players are physical enough to bang bodies and keep the ball.

That's what sets players like Alexis Goins, Brooke Harden, and Becky Dean apart - they're physical, strong, and also technically gifted players. There is a baseline of physicality necessary to succeed at the highest level of high school soccer. You can have all the fancy footwork in the world, but if you can't meet that baseline, you won't see much of the field for the top teams. Period.
I'm guessing that a beautiful game includes executing your style of play with an efficiency that shows good coaching and technical skill. I would say that it relative to the level of play.

In reference to Beavercreek. I've only watched them a for 3 or 4 games over 3 years now. Their CM plays on the same club team as Alexis Goins. Their forward is an ECNL All-American on the 02's and their center-back played on the same team as Goins and the BC CM, but now plays for the OP ECNL. This BC team is loaded with talent. I think people who regularly watch GWOC would say that level of talent has them playing a more coordinated, efficient style this year, with skilled players in the middle on each line.
 

Bucknut3

Member
I'm guessing that a beautiful game includes executing your style of play with an efficiency that shows good coaching and technical skill. I would say that it relative to the level of play.

In reference to Beavercreek. I've only watched them a for 3 or 4 games over 3 years now. Their CM plays on the same club team as Alexis Goins. Their forward is an ECNL All-American on the 02's and their center-back played on the same team as Goins and the BC CM, but now plays for the OP ECNL. This BC team is loaded with talent. I think people who regularly watch GWOC would say that level of talent has them playing a more coordinated, efficient style this year, with skilled players in the middle on each line.
What clubs do Becky Dean and Brooke Harden play for? I don’t think the club is as important as some believe but HS teams who emphasize athleticism are those who tend to dominate and win. Marcella Cash is a physical beast and developed in the CUP system early on and has taken that style to OE. Beavercreek becomes special because of her ability to dominate 1 on 1 matchups. Sometimes this physicality is embraced and other times it’s discounted or seen as a detriment to a slower paced team.
 
What clubs do Becky Dean and Brooke Harden play for? I don’t think the club is as important as some believe but HS teams who emphasize athleticism are those who tend to dominate and win. Marcella Cash is a physical beast and developed in the CUP system early on and has taken that style to OE. Beavercreek becomes special because of her ability to dominate 1 on 1 matchups. Sometimes this physicality is embraced and other times it’s discounted or seen as a detriment to a slower paced team.
Actually, I think she only played CUP 1 year and was sparsely used. She came up through the Celtics.
 

5x26

Member
Cash is amazing at Creek. And if you ask her what made the biggest difference she'll tell you playing at OE. Creek is amazing this year.
 
They DONT. One center back just plays a little deeper and the other center back just has the 'step forward' responsibility. The only team I know that still plays a 'traditional' stopper/sweeper is False. And they will win the state championship again sadly.
 

SoccerNut

New member
Cash is amazing at Creek. And if you ask her what made the biggest difference she'll tell you playing at OE. Creek is amazing this year.
That’s is what she is suppose to say about her current club. What college is she verbally committed to?
 
This is a bit of a silly question. (1) I don't know that the "beautiful game" exists in girls high school soccer. (2) Who cares how "beautiful" the game is if you aren't physical enough to win/keep the ball? (3) Those associated with the best high school teams will take physical, athletic players over smaller, weaker, more "skilled" players every time. (4) Ball skills are very important, but only to the extent players are physical enough to bang bodies and keep the ball.

That's what sets players like Alexis Goins, Brooke Harden, and Becky Dean apart - they're physical, strong, and also technically gifted players. There is a baseline of physicality necessary to succeed at the highest level of high school soccer. You can have all the fancy footwork in the world, but if you can't meet that baseline, you won't see much of the field for the top teams. Period.
Your last sentence saddens me. I think this is the crux of my post and a serious problem for us. I get that if you are getting pushed off the ball every time that is one thing, and I hope that is what you are saying. But if we are valuing physicality over skill then .....well I don't know what.....Maybe our officials need to call a tighter game and give out more cards as a solution.


1. Disagree. I know there are teams that possess the ball, play with skill, are creative in breaking down a defense, string together multiple passes, score goals on play other than corners and brute force, etc. I just want to know who these teams are.

2. What makes you think you need to be physical to win the ball and maintain possession? Win the ball with skill. Play one-touch. Use the space. Use your speed. Spread out the field. Keep the ball on the ground. etc.

3. and this is the problem. You actually make my point for me here. Why do those associated with the best HS teams take more physical players? Why not take the high road and develop a program with skilled players? In the long run your program will be better. Maybe if more coaches quit looking for the quick fix HS soccer wouldn't be such an ugly game.

4. Nope, you are completely wrong here. There is no need to rely on physical play if you have skill and speed. Some of the best players in the world are the smallest and least physical.

And I would not call those players you mentioned "technically gifted". There are players that are far more technically sound on their teams. Plowing through opponents is not something to be proud of. You are mistaking playing with heart, hustle and grit with playing physical. Physical play is often a mask for weaker skilled players. I know bc I was one of them. I was fast and physical but my skills were suspect. I used my aggressive play to make up for that skill, as many players do.
 
Your last sentence saddens me. I think this is the crux of my post and a serious problem for us. I get that if you are getting pushed off the ball every time that is one thing, and I hope that is what you are saying. But if we are valuing physicality over skill then .....well I don't know what.....Maybe our officials need to call a tighter game and give out more cards as a solution.


1. Disagree. I know there are teams that possess the ball, play with skill, are creative in breaking down a defense, string together multiple passes, score goals on play other than corners and brute force, etc. I just want to know who these teams are.

2. What makes you think you need to be physical to win the ball and maintain possession? Win the ball with skill. Play one-touch. Use the space. Use your speed. Spread out the field. Keep the ball on the ground. etc.

3. and this is the problem. You actually make my point for me here. Why do those associated with the best HS teams take more physical players? Why not take the high road and develop a program with skilled players? In the long run your program will be better. Maybe if more coaches quit looking for the quick fix HS soccer wouldn't be such an ugly game.

4. Nope, you are completely wrong here. There is no need to rely on physical play if you have skill and speed. Some of the best players in the world are the smallest and least physical.

And I would not call those players you mentioned "technically gifted". There are players that are far more technically sound on their teams. Plowing through opponents is not something to be proud of. You are mistaking playing with heart, hustle and grit with playing physical. Physical play is often a mask for weaker skilled players. I know bc I was one of them. I was fast and physical but my skills were suspect. I used my aggressive play to make up for that skill, as many players do.
I'm surprised you mentioned the girls as not technically gifted. I don't know the other two but I'd say Goins is one of the most technical players I've seen.

Let's face it. Beauty is relative and very few schools have the number of elite girls to play a smooth possession game. I think of beauty as an obviously well coached system with players who run that system efficiently. There's an Indy school we play in the playoffs who has as many ECNL girls as any Cinci or Dayton team, and they love to drop/send it over the top and their wickedly efficient at it.

Physicality is part of the game like any other sport. Our HS rival has excessive physicality/aggressiveness as their signature. They're a bunch of athletic non-club girls surrounding one ECNL girl. The way they compete with the metro area schools by trying to pressure them hard, turning the ball over, and getting the ball to their scorer. We have to mentally prepare our girls for that game and adjust our style.

Maybe I'm too practical, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
 
Your last sentence saddens me. I think this is the crux of my post and a serious problem for us. I get that if you are getting pushed off the ball every time that is one thing, and I hope that is what you are saying. But if we are valuing physicality over skill then .....well I don't know what.....Maybe our officials need to call a tighter game and give out more cards as a solution.


1. Disagree. I know there are teams that possess the ball, play with skill, are creative in breaking down a defense, string together multiple passes, score goals on play other than corners and brute force, etc. I just want to know who these teams are.

2. What makes you think you need to be physical to win the ball and maintain possession? Win the ball with skill. Play one-touch. Use the space. Use your speed. Spread out the field. Keep the ball on the ground. etc.

3. and this is the problem. You actually make my point for me here. Why do those associated with the best HS teams take more physical players? Why not take the high road and develop a program with skilled players? In the long run your program will be better. Maybe if more coaches quit looking for the quick fix HS soccer wouldn't be such an ugly game.

4. Nope, you are completely wrong here. There is no need to rely on physical play if you have skill and speed. Some of the best players in the world are the smallest and least physical.

And I would not call those players you mentioned "technically gifted". There are players that are far more technically sound on their teams. Plowing through opponents is not something to be proud of. You are mistaking playing with heart, hustle and grit with playing physical. Physical play is often a mask for weaker skilled players. I know bc I was one of them. I was fast and physical but my skills were suspect. I used my aggressive play to make up for that skill, as many players do.
We clearly are not talking about the same thing - at least I hope not - because there's not much controversy in what I said. When I say physical play, I don't mean being a brute. I mean having enough strength and athleticism to jostle for position and win a ball out of the air, or to shield off a defender to maintain possession or get a shot off - things like that, which are widely accepted as fundamental to the game of soccer. Every single player who has success at any significant level has to be able to do that. There is no counter-example. (You seem to define this as "heart, hustle and grit." Fair enough. I think they're not exactly the same thing but tend to go hand in hand.)

In high school soccer, teams that have bigger, stronger, more athletic girls with moderate to above average skill tend to beat teams with smaller, more skilled players, unless you have an all-star level team of club players who can ping the ball around with one or two touches. I've been around high school soccer a long time and cannot think of any team that was able to do that without having to get physical, grind for 50-50 balls, and tug on a jersey here and there. That's what I mean when I say the "beautiful game" as you describe it doesn't exist at the high school level. Teams just don't have that level of skill across the board to be able to play like that consistently.

And I named the players of the year in the GMC, ECC, and GGCL - as voted by coaches. You don't get recognition like that without being technically gifted. You are hurting your credibility here by discounting these players.
 

Bucknut3

Member
We clearly are not talking about the same thing - at least I hope not - because there's not much controversy in what I said. When I say physical play, I don't mean being a brute. I mean having enough strength and athleticism to jostle for position and win a ball out of the air, or to shield off a defender to maintain possession or get a shot off - things like that, which are widely accepted as fundamental to the game of soccer. Every single player who has success at any significant level has to be able to do that. There is no counter-example. (You seem to define this as "heart, hustle and grit." Fair enough. I think they're not exactly the same thing but tend to go hand in hand.)

In high school soccer, teams that have bigger, stronger, more athletic girls with moderate to above average skill tend to beat teams with smaller, more skilled players, unless you have an all-star level team of club players who can ping the ball around with one or two touches. I've been around high school soccer a long time and cannot think of any team that was able to do that without having to get physical, grind for 50-50 balls, and tug on a jersey here and there. That's what I mean when I say the "beautiful game" as you describe it doesn't exist at the high school level. Teams just don't have that level of skill across the board to be able to play like that consistently.

And I named the players of the year in the GMC, ECC, and GGCL - as voted by coaches. You don't get recognition like that without being technically gifted. You are hurting your credibility here by discounting these players.



Well said!!! Far too often the ability to “win” balls or beat someone 1v1 or provide pace on the outside is discounted when there is an “in clique” at a high school of lower level club girls who tend to play a slower , more deliberate style which involves a lot of “ kick and run” as the only option to score. The technical divide of high school and club gets wider each year.
 

Soccer Toe

New member
I guess it depends on your definition of beautiful ... I love comments like "what HS teams would you say play the game the way it was meant to be played?" So who says how it was meant to be played. At any level that is considered competitive, the way is was meant to be played is the way that gives your own team the best chance to succeed.
 
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