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East meets West at Harvard-Northeastern college identification camp at Sacred Heart

Soccer: Harvard and Northeastern women's coaches conduct college identification clinic on local campus.

July 25, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Players scrimmage during a soccer camp conducted by college coaches from Harvard University and Northeastern University at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy on Monday.
Players scrimmage during a soccer camp conducted by college… (Libby Cline )

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — As he gazed out at the assembly of girls' high school soccer players dotting the picturesque on-campus field, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy soccer Coach Frank Pace uttered an adage that cut right to the essence of Monday's Harvard-Northeastern college identification camp.

"You can tell a lot more about a player by the way they practice than by the way they play in a game," said Pace, who organized the event that brought Harvard women's Coach Ray Leone and Northeastern women's Coach Terry Leone to La Cañada for the day.

For three hours, a group of about 30 players, culled mostly from area high schools, but with some ranging from as far as San Diego, were put through their paces by the husband-wife coaching duo, which kept a steady eye on the group in search of college prospects.

The purpose of the camp was twofold — provide local players a rare opportunity to glean from some respected East Coast coaching minds, while offering the Leones a peek at Southern California talent up close.

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"California's loaded with great players," said Tracey Leone, who already has two players from last year's Sacred Heart squad committed to her program in Breanna Koemans and Krista Meaglia. "It's going great. [There's] a lot of talent, [it's a] really coachable group that really translate information well. They're really coachable and hungry and willing to really work hard.

"Time's flying right now, it's amazing. When time's flying like this, you know that you have a group of players that are working very hard."

Ray Leone, who guided Harvard to Ivy League championships in 2008, 2009 and 2011, and Tracey Leone, a three-time NCAA champion during her playing career at North Carolina before serving as the head coach for the United States Soccer Federation Under-19 women's national team from 2000-03, came to Southern California as a family vacation. Tracey said that Pace, a good friend of theirs, was able to persuade them to mix some business with pleasure.

The word of mouth quickly spread and Pace said there was a waiting list for the clinic among players eager to take attend the camp that doubled as a valuable learning experience, as well as an audition of sorts.

"I'm really interested in going to Harvard and I thought it would be good to attend this camp," said Taylor Ramos, 16, an incoming junior at San Diego's Coronado High. "[The camp is] really fun, I like it.

"I just really want to be the best I can be in anything that I do."

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