For those who may have missed it, St Louis Scott Gallagher SC (SLSG) recently announced that they would have a High School girls team playing year round beginning with this Spring season. Covered in-depth by SoccerSTL.net, the roster of 13 players includes one prominent Springfield player.
Nicole Ortega, named to the All-Ozark squad last year as a sophomore, joined the SLSG ECNL squad last Fall. She has chosen not to return the the Springfield Catholic squad this year in order to play year round Club soccer. She follows Dallas Moses of the Catholic boys team in making that decision. Dallas moved to Collinsville, IL last August and attended Collinsville HS while playing for the SLSG Metro Academy program. Both programs are the highest level of play available for the girls and boys, respectively.
I reached out to Nicole to discuss her decision. Here are her answers:
Are you dual-rostering with Springfield SC or will you concentrate on SLSG only?
As much as I would like to play SSC, next season, I will concentrate only on SLSG. It was too much on my body to try and play both, and at this point I need to be pushed by the competitiveness of ECNL.
What were the key reasons leading to your decision to drive to STL to compete with SLSG?
Playing in the SEC has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I knew that playing on an ECNL team would give me the exposure I would need in order to reach my goal. I have improved so much this year playing with SLSG and I know I will continue to be pushed to get ready for college.
When did you begin thinking about Club Soccer as a full time effort?
After last years high school season ended, Steve Pecher (Director of Girls Soccer at SLSG) told me that SLSG would probably have a team in the Spring. It was then that I decided to take the opportunity to play club full time. High school soccer is great, but I need to continue to play at the highest level I can to prepare myself for college.
What advice did Dallas offer in the decision-making process, having made the step first?
Dallas and I had talked about it a lot. He told me that if I wanted to reach my goal of playing in the SEC, I would need to get the exposure a club like SLSG gets.
What were the most difficult parts of the decision to give up high school?
Honestly, the decision was not overly complicated. There are things that I will miss about high school. I will miss playing in the home games and playing for Ben Timson. However, it was pretty clear to me that I need to continue to play ECNL. After playing with SLSG and seeing the level of play at a D1 program, I know I need to be playing at the highest level possible so that I can develop into the player I want to be for college.
What were the most important reasons?
I am really excited to play this Spring because I will have the opportunity to play against some colleges. I know I will really be pushed this Spring and it will help me prepare for college.
note – The full schedule, available at the link above, includes games against five D2 programs based in St Louis and Quincy.
What are your personal goals?
I would love to continue playing after college. Right now though, my goal is to continue to improve and develop into the best player I can be for SLSG and eventually Arkansas.
note – Nicole has made a verbal commitment to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks when she graduates in 2014. The full roster, with college commitments of her teammates, is available on SoccerSTL.net
What has been the biggest change moving to SLSG ECNL?
The speed of play is so much faster and everyone plays at a higher level. It took me a few games to reach that level, but SLSG has really pushed me and made me work harder.
The Catholic squad, which is coming off of a 3rd place finish at State last year, should return yet again as the regional representative but will face some extremely strong opponents from the St Louis area in their pursuit of a Class 1 title. I’ll have more on the Fighting Irish later.