EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — There’s some pretty high-level soccer being played in central Illinois this summer.
MSC Peoria is a semi-pro team playing in a national league called United Womens Soccer. Most of the players are in college, using the summer competition to get better.
“I was looking to play competitive soccer over the summer so I could be prepared to come to school in the fall,” said Dunlap’s Sierra Cenek, a player at Illinois-Springfield. “This is a really good opportunity to meet new girls and have a new set of coaches.”
The MSC Peoria roster includes several local players.
“It reminds me of being back at Notre Dame again,” said Notre Dame grad Kayla Johnston, who plays at Lincoln College. “All the skill you have in one place. There’s so many girls on this team.”
The team practices during the week and plays on Saturday nights. MSC Peoria plays its home games at EastSide Centre.
The team’s goal is to give downstate players a spot to showcase their talent.
“Womens soccer is definitely looked down upon,” said Pekin’s Paige Smith, a player at Mississippi Valley State. “I think we can hang with any team around here. And some men’s teams.”
None of the players on this semi-pro team are paid, they’re just in it for the experience. And in some cases, they hope this experience opens the door for opportunities in professional soccer.
“I want to play professional after college,” said Western Illinois University player Carolina Gomes from Brazil. “I get this opportunity to be here and play semi-pro. It’s my first year. I’m loving it.”
The MSC season runs through July.