The U.S. Under-16 Girls’ National Team will travel to Italy and Slovenia to participate in the 3rd annual U-17 Women’s Torneo delle Nazioni, playing four matches from April 25-28.
The USA was placed in Group A and will face the U-17 Women’s National Teams of Iran (April 25 in Rence, Slovenia), Italy (April 26 in Romans d’Isonzo, Italy) and Slovenia (April 27 in Bilje, Slovenia). Each team will play a placement match on April 28 with the two countries that win the two groups playing for the championship. The second-place finishers will play for third, the third-place finishers will play for fifth and the fourth-place finishers will play for seventh. Group B features Japan, England, Russia and Norway.
The USA won this tournament last year playing with the current group of U-17s that will be participating in the CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship later this month in Nicaragua.
This year’s U.S. team is made up of 10 players born in 2002, which is the age group for this year’s U-16 GNT, and five players born in 2003, which puts them in the U-15 GNT age group. In addition, there are five players on the roster born in 2001, which is the age cutoff for the team that will be participating in the Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Nicaragua.
Of those five 2001s, three have seen extensive time with the U-17 WNT this year in goalkeeper Lindsey Romig, defender Tori Hansen and forward Kalyssa Van Zanten. All three played in this tournament last year. Midfielder Samantha Kroeger, who was born in 2002, has also been in consistently with the U-17s and was also very much in the mix for the qualifying roster. Sixteen of the 20 players on the roster play for U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy clubs.
The Torneo delle Nazioni has been held for boys for the past 15 years (including this yera), but this is just the third time it has been held for women. This year’s competition is for players born in 2002 or later. The tournament is being staged at 14 small venues in the northeast part of Italy and just across the border in western Slovenia, 10 of them in Italy and four in Slovenia.
Last year at this tournament, the U.S. U-17 WNT tied Slovenia, 1-1, defeated Mexico 4-0, and defeated England 2-0, to win the group before rolling past Italy in the championship game by a 6-0 score.
In 2016, the U-16 GNT attended this tournament in the inaugural edition of the competition and lost to the Italy U-16 GNT, 1-0, defeated the Iran U-17 WNT, 6-0, and tied the Mexico U-17 WNT, 1-1.
DEFENDERS (6): Baleigh Bruster (NTH Tophat; Smyrna, Ga.), Tori Hansen (NC Courage; Raleigh, N.C.), Nya Harrison (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Kellie Pagador (Placer United; Roseville, Calif.), Lilly Reale (South Shore Select; Hingham, Mass.), Elaine Rouse (NC Courage; Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Aislynn Crowder (Hawaii Rush; Mililani, Hawaii), Jaelyn Eisenhart (LAFC Slammers; Henderson, Nev.), Samantha Kroeger (World Class FC; West Milford, N.J.), Alexis Missimo (Solar Chelsea; Southlake, Texas), Ariella Pitty (Ohio Premier; Brunswick, Ohio), Alexis Theoret (FC Virginia; Oak Hill, Va.)
FORWARDS (6): Trinity Byars (Solar Chelsea; Richardson, Texas), Michelle Cooper (Michigan Hawks; Clarkston, Mich.), Kailyn Dudukovich (Cincinnati Development Academy; West Chester, Ohio), Dilary Heredia-Beltran (Sporting Blue Valley; Overland Park, Kan.), Reilyn Turner (So Cal Blues; Aliso Viejo, Calif.), Kalyssa Van Zanten (Eclipse Select SC; Buffalo Grove, Ill.)