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Oct, 2019

Jackson and Nicholas Lead the Way for Internationals SC

During a recent conference preview by the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), 10 Internationals SC players were named “Players to Watch” for the 2019/2020 season.  Two of those players were Grace Jackson and Clare Nicholas.

Jackson is a versatile offensive-minded player that can play attacking midfielder, winger, or forward.  Jackson’s playing style fits perfectly with her ECNL squad as it is all about the team.

“I would describe myself as a possession-style player who likes to do combinations with my teammates,” Jackson said. “I think when a goal is scored, any player who touched the ball before the goal gets the assist.  I like setting up plays and scoring goals or helping my teammates to score goals.”

Scoring goals has not been a problem for Jackson and her teammates.  They were Super Y League champions in 2018 and made their way into the ECNL national playoffs. 

Jackson has also had tremendous success as an individual.  Recently Jackson was selected to participate in the U.S. Youth National Team Talent ID U15 Domestic Camp for the 2005 birth year.  It was held October 6-9 in Kansas City, Kansas and included 59 of the top 2005s in the entire country. 

Nicholas is a standout at both center back and center forward, possessing the skills necessary to play two impact positions.  Simply put, she is a game changer on offense and defense.

“My style of play is both conservative and attacking-minded,” Nicholas said. “I often play simple passes, yet I also try to attack when the space is open, or play a long ball to a teammate.  My role on the field is to help organize the backline, making sure we all read the cues of the game.”

Both players have taken full advantage of the opportunities brought about by playing in the ECNL.

“ECNL games are always very competitive and hard-fought,” Jackson added. “We always know we have to be ready to play.  I like those games because the matchups are always super tough.  Playing that level of competition helps us to be better players and a higher performing team.”

“The ECNL provides great competition because it gives players the opportunity to play against other players and teams who are equally skilled, fast, and strong,” Nicholas continued. “Every team is a little different, so we have to find ways to defensively prevent them from penetrating through us, and offensively exploit them.  The level of play is extremely high, and each team provides a new challenge.  The league gives players an opportunity to face new challenges every game.”

Playing at such a high level has motivated Jackson to set some lofty goals. 

“Our U15 team has the goal to win the ECNL’s Ohio Valley Conference and make it back to the national playoffs,” Jackson said. “We had a good run this past year and fell short to PDA.  We learned we can play with anybody.  It’s given our team a ton of confidence for this year.”

Jackson has also set the goal of playing for a Division I program in college.  That’s certainly possible as over 350 Internationals SC players have made it to the collegiate game with a majority playing at the highest level.

Nicholas has set similar goals.  “My goals are to keep improving my skill level and become more technical as a player,” Nicholas said. “Another goal of mine is to be invited to the ECNL NTC in 2020.  My goals for the future include playing a high level of soccer in college, where I am both challenged, but also receive playing time.”  

Both players have grown and developed during their years at Internationals SC.  Jackson started training with the Internationals in 2011, while Nicholas is beginning her eighth year with the club.

“Internationals and the coaches have taught me everything I know about soccer,” Jackson noted. “Not only have they taught me about soccer, but about how to be a good teammate and how to play the game the right way.  The structure of the program has taught me to be organized with my time and school.  I also like that they focus on being healthy mentally and physically."   

“Internationals has helped me develop as a player by making me more disciplined on the field by focusing on the details of the game,” Nicholas recounted. “They have challenged me with an intense playing environment, and pushed me to be the best version of myself both on and off of the field, with the importance of individual character. They have also bettered me as a player by teaching me the importance of proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.”

Nicholas was also part of the ECNL National Training Camp in 2018.  She was named to the ECNL’s Ohio Valley All-Conference Team in both 2018 and 2019.

Overall Internationals SC Club and ECNL Director Keri Sarver has been impressed with the pair’s progress and development.

“Grace and Clare have both grown up in the club and are great examples of holistic development,” Sarver explained. “They are extremely focused on their individual development by setting goals and executing action plans for the technical, tactical, physiological, and physical aspects of the game.  They also value their education as evident through excellent results in the classroom and engagement in their schools. They are both fantastic role models for our younger generation of players.”

Both players bring something special to the club thanks to their unique skill sets. 

Jackson is known for her maturity as a player.

“Grace has a feel for the game that is well beyond her years,” Sarver added. “Her ability to sense pressure and solve problems technically and tactically is remarkable.  Over the pastyear she has been able to make an impact in her own age group as well as playing up.  This fall, as an eight-grader, she played and trained with our high school players U15 through U19 and fit right in. Additionally, she not only, competed, but impacted the outcome of games against college teams.  She continues to impress us with her ability to consistently improve week to week.”

Nicholas has several qualities that make her an incredible talent. 

“Clare is like a machine,” Sarver concluded. “She has an amazing engine and is extremely versatile.  She also has great soccer intelligence and can read the game at a high level.  Her discipline, maturity, consistency, focus, and training habits will continue to help her reach her goals.  Another quality that separates Clare is her selflessness as a true team player.”

It’s easy to see why so many are excited about this dynamic duo.  They lead a generation of talented players that are ready to take Internationals SC to the next level. 

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