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Women's team Rochester United FC leaning local

Third-year women's soccer franchise Rochester United FC has a pack of local players this season who figure to be impact players.

Gardner soccer
Winona Cotter senior Olivia Gardner is a member of this season's Rochester United FC soccer team. It plays in the Women's Premier Soccer League.
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The Rochester United FC women’s soccer team began its third season on Saturday. Only this time it was with a decidedly local flavor.

Unlike its first two seasons, when the Matthew Fatehi-owned Rochester United FC team trotted out a pack of women from around the world, including some Division I college players, this year’s team is predominately from a tri-state area — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

That includes a pack of players from the Rochester area, some of them about to graduate from high school.

A couple that jump out are from Class A state champion Winona Cotter, Olivia Gardner and Sera Speltz. Gardner, who scored 43 goals this past high school season, was a four-time All-State selection and was this season’s Ms. Soccer in Class A, as well as the Post Bulletin’s Player of the Year.

The speedy and powerful forward will play in the fall at Division II University of Mary (N.D.). Speltz was named All-State as a junior when she nabbed the Post Bulletin Player of the Year honor. She spent much of this past season with Cotter recuperating from a variety of injuries, including a torn ACL from the final game of her junior season. The midfielder will play in the fall at Division II Northern State University (S.D.).

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Among other locals are Century senior twins Kristen and Melanie LaDue. Kristen was a star defender for an outstanding Panthers team last fall while Melanie was a star midfielder. Also on the team are Century senior defender Brooke Hedin, Mayo senior midfielder Maya Basnyat and Eastview senior forward Sienna Latta.

Rochester United FC remains in the Women’s Premier Soccer League and led off Saturday with a 4-2 loss to the Maplebrook Fury at Mayo High School.

Among Rochester United FC's coaches is 37-year-old Christine Bright, a former Division III college player and coach. Bright, in her first season with Rochester United FC, likes the look of this team.

“This group has been awesome,” Bright said. “One of the things that has been cool is some of the players have been training together over the winter. There has been a focus by (Fatehi) to grow the talent from folks who were available regionally. We’ve been doing lots of stuff indoors with them that makes people great soccer players. It’s fun to see the hard work that they’ve put in.”

Rochester United FC will play an eight-game schedule, the final one July 1, on the road against Dakota Fusion FC.

ROCHESTER UNITED FC ROSTER

Sheila Sanchez, goalie; Melanie LaDue, midfield; Kristen LaDue, defense; Ilana Izquierdo, midfield; Samanth McClanahan, defense; Sharon Fung, midfield; Salem Birkholz, defense; Daniela Ortiz, midfield; Anna Reinholz, forward; Maya Basnyat, midfield; Shelby Packard, midfield; Maria Garcia, forward; Brooke Hedin, defense; Elizabeth Harlos, defense; Sera Speltz, midfield; Sienna Latta, forward; Lindsey Monnet, midfield; Addy Spaeth, midfield; Tessa Anderson, forward; Sarah Class, midfield; Celenka Hommel, goalie; Sarah Evans, defense; Olivia Gardner, forward; Kristin Treichel, midfield.

ROCHESTER UNITED FC SCHEDULE

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(All home games at Mayo High School)

May 28 — Maplebrook Fury, 7 p.m.

June 2 — at Minnesota Thunder, 7:45 p.m.

June 5 — at Joy AC, 7 p.m.

June 15 — at Manitou FC, 6:30 p.m.

June 19 — Sioux Falls City FC, 6 p.m.

June 24 — Mankato United Soccer Club, 7 p.m.

June 26 — Salvo SC, 7 p.m.

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July 1 — at Dakota Fusion, 4 p.m.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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