HAMILTON, Ohio - Badin High School soccer standout Malia Berkely has dreamed of having an opportunity to play in Europe.
This weekend will be the start of realizing that dream.
Berkely, Ohio’s Ms. Soccer and the Gatorade state player of the year this past season, leaves Saturday to accompany the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team to La Manga, Spain for three matches against U-19 European teams, Badin announced in a news release.
The trip is part of an annual event in southwest Spain. Berkely, a Florida State signee, competed with the national team in Mexico and Costa Rica previously.
“These continued invitations are a great honor for Malia,” said her father, Badin coach Todd Berkely. “She’s just been willing to put her head down and work hard for a very long time.”
Berkely, 18, is listed as a defender on the 22-player squad. The U.S. team will play Denmark March 3, England March 5 and Norway on March 7.
“I’m so excited – I can’t wait,” Malia Berkely said. “It’s a great opportunity and I know it will be a great experience.”
All of the women on this team are age-eligible for the team that will participate in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The ultimate goal for this age group is to ultimately qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
“She’s been looking forward to this opportunity for quite some time,” Todd Berkely said. “Much of her training is focused on playing in Europe, which is what she would like to do after college. This is a big first step.”
Berkely had 15 goals and four assists last season for Badin (14-4-2), which made it to the Elite 8 of the Division III state tournament.
She had 66 goals and 33 assists in her high school career. She was a two-time member of the Division III state championship teams in 2013 and '14.