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Recreation

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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
UCLA freshman Sarah Killion, a former Bishop Dwenger soccer standout, will try out for the U20 women’s World Cup team. She’s played with the team in Spain and Panama recently.

Still getting her kicks

U20 World Cup tryouts are next

– You can’t say Sarah Killion has been dreaming of this moment forever. In her personal context, after all, forever is almost literally that.

“How old were when you started playing soccer?” she is asked, one sunny spring afternoon. “Three years old,” she replies.

So, no, playing soccer for her country in a World Cup competition wasn’t on the radar the first time someone rolled a soccer ball across the grass toward her.

It does fill it up these days, however.

The UCLA freshman and former Bishop Dwenger standout will head to a tryout camp for the U20 women’s World Cup team Monday, and her chances are better than good. A veteran of various national programs since she was a high school sophomore, she’s played with the U20 national team in Spain and Panama in the last couple months, so it’s not like she’ll show up at camp as a stranger.

“It’s good they saw me that much,” she says. “I think it definitely helps my chances.”

She came by those chances honestly.

Her dad, Jeff, played at Saint Francis, so it’s no accident she’s been playing the game since before she can remember. And in all the years coming up through youth and high school and club soccer, she’s never lost her passion for it.

“I think I’ve always loved it,” says Killion, a three-time Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year and former ESPN Rise and National Soccer Coaches Association of America youth and high school All-American. “It’s something that stuck with me. There was never really a time when I’ve been sick of it. It’s always been something I want to go out and … I want to go out and kick around.”

Where all that kicking around goes from here, she has no idea just yet. The process of picking the team is a convoluted one; the team on which Killion just played competed in the World Cup qualifier that just concluded in Panama, but now, Killion says, “it kind of opens up again,” with other players brought into the aforementioned camp and a couple of others.

“They’ll pick a team from that,” she says. “I’m not really sure when, though. The team goes to Japan in June, so I don’t know if they will pick the team at the end of May or if they’re gonna go to Japan come back and pick the team then.”

Either way, it’ll hardly be unfamiliar waters for her if she qualifies. Her national and international experience means Killion knows not only most of her prospective teammates, but also what it’s like to play away games, so to speak.

“It’s definitely different, because I think it’s very obvious that Americans have a different style than the Europeans do, and that carries over to the women’s game just like it does with the men’s game,” says Killion. In addition to her trips to Spain and Panama, she played on an Olympic Development Program Region II team when she was younger that toured Costa Rica, Portugal and Germany.

“Playing internationally against Germany and Switzerland and Norway, teams like that, it’s definitely different. They definitely have a different style. But it’s something we kind of know and we’re ready for when we go over there.”

Ready for then. And, if everything goes right, ready for later.

bensmith@jg.net

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