CONYERS - A second consecutive trip to the Class AAAA semifinals wasn't enough for three Salem soccer stars.
Brittany Beaumont and Jordan Young, who graduated in June, and rising senior Taylor Gates, will be competing for Gwinnett Soccer Association 92 Phoenix Red in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship today through Sunday in Lancaster, Mass.
The 17-under team, comprised of 16 players in seven different Georgia towns, begins a schedule of three round robin games at 11:30 a.m. today.
Beaumont, the Citizen's Salem Athlete of the Year and a Clemson commitment, is the most-seasoned, nationally, of the three. She began playing with GSA as a 14-year old, and head coach Campbell Chapman has seen the value the 5-foot-7 midfielder brings to the pitch.
"Brittany's been with us for a number of years," Chapman said. "She's a hard-working girl. She's got the ability to score goals and make assists as well."
Young, who will continue her career at the University of Georgia, has impressed Chapman with her lightning-quick speed.
"(Young has) got the one component you can't coach - speed," Chapman said. "She's probably one of the fastest girls in this age group anywhere. She's a raw talent."
Gates, the only one of the three with time left at Salem, and the only goal scorer in the semifinal loss to Whitewater in May, is one of GSA's more recent additions.
"She's given us the strength and is a very dominant presence in the middle of the field," Chapman said of Gates. "The three Salem girls, obviously they're committed. They bring different looks to the team and they're fun girls to be around. I like them a lot."
The Phoenix doesn't have to worry about getting motivated for the round robin. They open with the defending national champion Dallas Texans and play last season's runner-up, Eclipse Select from Chicago.
GSA 92 finishes with PDA Fire, a New Jersey team that won the Eastern championship - GSA grabbed the Southern title).
"We have a tough draw," Chapman said. "(But) we're one step away from being crowned the national champions; you win here and you're the No. 1 team in the country."
The dynamite Seminoles are hoping they can help.
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.