- Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 11:54
- Published on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 11:51
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They are the first King George soccer players to play on the national level. King George High School alumni Chris Gummer and rising junior Perri Chuska are traveling on two parallel soccer journeys that are paved in success.
Chuska’s U16 Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association (FASA) team competed in the President’s Day National Championship in Florida, finishing third in the nation. Gummer, a Bluefield College rising junior, and his USL Super 20 FASA team competed in the final top 16 portion of the National Championship in Florida.
Chuska’s journey began last year, when her FASA Impact Premier 96 team (coached by Elizabeth Cohen)
“We walked in there thinking, ‘This is huge, and we’ve come to play,’”
competed in two President’s Cup games in Richmond, where they finished as runner-ups. On May 24, her team traveled to New Hampshire to play in the President’s Cup Region I Championship. There were eight teams in their age group. Within three days of the tournament, Premeir 96 had become a dominant power, as they defeated Seacoast United (New Hampshire based), South Shore Select Gomes (Massachusetts based), Auburndale Bayside Tigers, and South Shore Gomes (Massachusetts based). Their success earned them a a trip to play in the President’s Day National Championship in Florida.
After three close losses, the Premier 96 avenged an earlier loss to SD United Legacy, by defeating them, 2-1. Chuska had an assist for the winning goal, which earned Premier 96 a third place President’s Cup U16 finish.
“We walked in there thinking, ‘This is huge, and we’ve come to play,’” Chuska said. “Later we competed in Nationals in Florida, where the first two games were tough, but we eventually finished in third place. I learned more as a team player, because I got frustrated a lot. You have to work with your team to be able to get through the game.”
Chuska’s high school team finished with an overall record of 10-7, before losing in the Battlefield District Championship semi-finals to Spotsylvania. As a defender, her off-season experience will pay huge dividends for Foxes during the upcoming spring season.
Of all the 200 U-20 teams in the nation, only 16 teams advanced to the finals. Prior to their lost against a team from Ohio called Pacesetter (5-2), Gummer’s team finished third overall. His team played against teams from Texas, South Carolina (Ironbound), and Ohio. Gummer is no stranger to playing against national competition. His Bluefield College team features athletes from all over the country; however, he was quickly indoctrinated into international competition, as the competition featured players from Mexico, Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The experience has improved Gummer’s game, both mentally and physically.
“My college team prefers to play physical, as well placing a focus on being in shape,” Gummer said. “The Super 20 FASA team is all about technical skills. If you’re not good with the ball, you will not last, and you also have to make quick decisions. While you don’t have to be in shape, you have to know what you’re doing on the ball at all times.”
While in high school, Gummer was scouted by Bluefield College during Showcase Soccer competition. After a brief visit to their campus, which consisted of working out with the team and competing in several scrimmages, Bluefield coaches offered him an athletic scholarship. In addition, part of Gummer’s scholarship was academic.
Next season, due to aging out of the FASA soccer program, Gummer will move up in off-season competition. He will play in the North American Soccer League (NASL), which is based in Ohio. Teams are made up of former professional soccer players. Last summer, Gummer’s coaches set him up with a Ohio soccer program called the Dayton Dutch Lions, where they competed against MLS Super 20 teams from St. Louis, New York and Chicago.