Our region has seen many teams and individuals achieve soccer success at a state, and even national, level.
Coaches Maurice Taylor and Mike Pastore won the state championship with their Blazer and Hooligans squads, and FC814 coach Mark Frye and his Energy girls team played for the national title in the Presidents Cup last year.
Today our area has connections to the United States Women’s National U-17 team. USWNT forward Mia Oliaro has strong family roots in the Hollidaysburg area.
Oliaro’s grandfather was longtime local attorney Mike Dorezas, and his mother, Jeri, was a former standout basketball player at Hollidaysburg Area High School who also played on a scholarship for American University, before moving to his home in Chapel Hill, NC
Mia’s father, Scott, is head athletic trainer and associate director of sports at the University of North Carolina.
Mia had the opportunity to coach former World Cup players and play all year round for one of the club’s best teams – the North Carolina Courage. He vowed to play college soccer at UNC, as one of the top recruits in the country. North Carolina is a perennial contender for the women’s NCAA championship.
Oliaro, a junior in high school, was a multi-sport athlete until his freshman year in high school, when his focus went to soccer. Oliaro was selected for the roster of 20 players for the U-17 Women’s Youth National Team by coach Natalie Astrain from a national player pool to represent the USA at CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Carribean Association Football) Women Under-17 Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Three teams will qualify for the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India later this year. WYNT played in Group G and defeated Grenada 20-0, Puerto Rico 13-0 and Costa Rica 5-0. In the round of 16s, the team defeated Curacao 11-0. In the semifinals, it beat Canada 3-0 for a spot in the U-17 World Cup, then in the finals, defeated Mexico 2-1 to win the tournament.
Oliaro played every game for the squad and scored three goals and two assists. The team scored 58 goals in seven games and dropped one. Oliaro helped USA get the ball 70 percent of the time. This is the third consecutive CONCACAF U-17 championship in the USA. Oliaro and the USA U-17 Women’s Team should be one of the most interesting teams India will watch at the World Cup.
n The US Men’s National Team has already qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar after a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica on the final day of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match. With the result, the US finished third in the Octaganal standings tied with Costa Rica by 25 points – but well ahead of the goal differential – and so the USA grabbed one of the Confederation’s three automatic berths to the World Cup.
n The Costa Rican game in America ended a seven -month campaign with 14 games. The average age on the U.S. team is just 23 years old, the youngest in team history in the qualifying cycle. The USA will return to action during the June international window, which will include the first games of the 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League.
Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.