Players from across the U.S. and Canada gathered in Canton, Ohio this July to participate in the Samurai Sportswear Soccer Combine Presented by Mercy Medical Center. The event is certainly an original one, serving as North America’s first and only free soccer combine for elite players.
The high school girls event took place on July 8-10, 2011 and featured nearly 80 players from across the Midwest U.S. and beyond. Forward Madison Williams (Perrysburg, OH) registered the best times in the 40 yard and 100 yard dash, while goalkeeper Taylor Stano (Massillon, OH) came away with the top kick speed.
Forwards Catie Crumb (Delaware, OH) and McKensey Cross (Canton, OH) emerged from the event as legitimate D-I prospects along with Williams. Freshman striker Marisa Swindell (Salem, OH) was another player to watch after she put in a solid performance over the three-day event.
The boys event, which took place on July 15-17, attracted over 85 players from across the U.S. and Canada. Lake HS standout Kurt Wolf claimed bests in the 40 yard dash, 100 yard dash, and kick speed along with three goals in exhibition matches. Anthony Flowers (New Albany, OH) led all keepers in saves, while Issifou Kankarafou (Pawtucket, RI) led all players in assists.
Thierry Lemay (Gatineau, QC) impressed college coaches with three goals of his own and goalkeeper Corbin Rodriguez (Denton, TX) landed a pair of goals after splitting time as a forward.
Overall the talent assembled at both events was impressive. Bluffton University Assistant Coach Brandon Ponchak agreed. “Ohio, in my opinion, is one of the best soccer states,” the former Dakota Wesleyan assistant stated in an interview with ISNSoccer.com. “There is a lot of talent in Ohio.”
The combine represents a unique model in youth competitive soccer, giving players access to an elite level of soccer at absolutely no charge. In a day and age where money and politics have gained greater importance in the beautiful game, this event gives everyone an opportunity to advance to the next level and beyond.