Pictured are the three Duran Junior High students, Mia Bentley (first row, first from left), Kayla Dowler (first row, second from left to right) and Cate Eden (second row, third from left). Both Mia and Kayla play forward on the 95 Girl’s Elite team while Cate plays goalkeeper.

Three young eighth graders at Duran Junior High, Mia Bentley, Kayla Dowler, and Cate Eden, have been competing with the Birmingham United Soccer Club for three years. They are all members of the 95 Girl’s Elite team, which is the top team in their age bracket at the club.

The girls have all worked hard and sacrificed to compete on the team at that level.

Hard work is something that the three young ladies know well. Each maintains their schoolwork while making as many as three practices, at night, in Birmingham per week. They have played in tournaments all across the Southeast over the past three years. The team they play on includes girls from Hoover, Mountain Brook, Oak Mountain, Vestavia, Pelham, Childersburg and Huntsville as well as the three from Pell City. The 95 Girl’s Elite team is coached by Jason Lockhart.

Last weekend, the team traveled to the Region III Championship Invitational Tournament in Smyrna, Tenn. The 95 Girl’s Elite Team won the tournament by posting a perfect 5-0 record during the tournament. They defeated teams from Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, and Missouri.

They won the championship game 1-0 by scoring a goal in the last 30 seconds of the game to defeat last year’s Michigan State Champions. This tournament included four age brackets, with oldest being seniors in high school, and was attended by over 60 college level coaches.

The team will travel to Portland, Oregon in May to participate in the Nike Manchester United Cup. Only the top 20 teams in the 14-year-old age bracket are invited to this tournament.

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