Makes Try
Simon Becher, center, of Woodstock Academy tries out for a national soccer team. Courtesy photo.

For The Woodstock Academy senior Simon Becher, now is the worst part. The waiting game.
He recently returned from the U(nder)-20 Men’s soccer National Team camp in Bradenton, Fla.
Becher was one of 36 players invited to the camp.
“I think I did well,” Becher said. “I think there is a chance that I will get called back in.”
There are more camps to come in Europe, Central America and Brazil, all in preparation for the U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament in the fall of 2019.
The ultimate goal would be to make the National team.
“The less you think about it, the better,” Becher said. “It’s a great opportunity, but if I don’t get called back again, it’s fine, it’s not the end of the world. At the end of the day, I’m doing what I love. As long as you’re doing it because you love it, the pressure doesn’t get to you.”
But even if he doesn’t, Becher has a lot to look forward to.
One of five siblings from a soccer playing family in Brooklyn, Becher grew up playing the game and the large family doesn’t hurt when it comes to improving one’s skills.
 “We try to get together as much as we can. My older brother played (at The Academy), my two sisters and my younger brother and my Mom and Dad (Mary and Mike) will come and kick it around with us. Whenever we can, we get a few friends and come up to The Academy or Bentley and play a good 6-v-6 game,” Becher said.
His older brother, Adam and two sisters, Emily and Elaina, all played at Woodstock Academy. But he, and his younger brother, Nathan, have never played for the Centaurs.
Becher made the decision to play for the Oakwood Soccer Club, based in Glastonbury and his younger brother has followed in his footsteps.
Simon has scored 45 goals over the last three seasons for Oakwood, but the success has come at a cost. One of the rules of playing for a program like Oakwood is that, according to USA Soccer, an Oakwood or similar Academy athlete cannot play high school soccer. “I think it’s the price you pay, it’s a sacrifice,” Becher said.
But it’s still only an opportunity and it’s the athlete who must make the most of it.
Becher said he has teammates at Oakwood who are going on to play Division I soccer - like he will at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester -  some who are not going to play in college. There are some on National teams, some aren’t.
“It’s an opportunity, but it’s a risk. I put a lot of hard work into it. I would have loved to play high school with all my friends, but it was something I had to give up,” Becher said.
One of the advantages to playing at Oakwood is the more likelihood to be seen and evaluated by those up the ladder.
USA soccer scouts generally attend Oakwood matches.
Oakwood also travels to showcase events in December and June in Bradenton where the different Academy clubs play one another. College and National scouts are always in attendance.
“It’s one of the reasons why I went there,” Becher said.
Becher plays center-attacking midfield for Oakwood and caught the eye of the National team scouts.
The U-20 head coach, Tab Ramos, called Becher personally and invited him to Bradenton for the camp in early January.
“I was really happy. It’s something that I have been working toward for quite a while,” Becher said. “There were possibilities that I was going to be called down before, but it never fell into place. It was a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
But he was one of the few high school products in attendance.
Twenty-five of the 36 players who were called down play professional soccer.
“It’s their full-time job and they’re training every day with grown men who are in their 20s and 30s,” Becher said.
What made it worse for Becher was that he suffered a concussion in late November. He was cleared to play in the showcase in Florida, but then the team took a break for the holidays.
“I had probably three weeks off because of the concussion and had to go down and play three games in the Florida heat which was brutal,” Becher said.
Due to the experience of the players around him, Becher quickly learned play was a lot faster, something that took a little adjustment on the part of The Woodstock Academy senior. That, finishing and scoring, and fitness were areas that Ramos said Becher had to work on.
“(Ramos) said I did better than expected. I think there is a chance that I get called back in,” Becher said.
In the meantime, Becher is getting ready for the next level.
“Holy Cross is the focus,” Becher said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I want to come in and make an impact.” To help make that happen, he plans to train and work out with his uncle’s United Soccer League franchise, the Penn FC, this summer. “I’ve trained with them before, but this will probably be a longer stint,” Becher said. The 18-year-old hopes that and Holy Cross will be another stepping stone to the National team.
“(Ramos) told me that the U-20 team won’t play together fully until (the qualifying tournament) begins. They are always calling in different kids, seeing different faces and how they work together. I have college, I will always be able to play. This is what I love to do, it’s another opportunity, and a chance to represent my country. I’m not putting the pressure on myself. I’m just having fun doing it,” Becher said.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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