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Madison Hald and Bella Giuliano are essentially attached at the hip. They both play on the same club soccer team, they both love soccer, and, at times, they dress the same.
And, in a few months, both Hald and Giuliano will head to Auburndale for the first of two training sessions before they head to Alabama as part of Florida’s Olympic Development Program player pool. There, they will be two of about 52 players from Florida — broken up into three teams — competing against teams from Region 3, which includes southern states such as Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and parts of Texas.
This marks the second year in a row both Hald and Giuliano were selected.
The two will train April 20-21 and July 8-9, in Auburndale, before heading to Alabama July 6-10.
“The obvious (benefit) is the training,” said Pete Hald, Madison’s dad and FPC girls soccer coach. “Training with high-quality players. No matter what team you’re on, they are pretty good. (Also), having your resume say that you’re a state player is impressive.”
In Alabama, the 52 players are broken up into three teams: an A team, and then two B teams.
Hald, speaking as the Lady Bulldogs coach and as both players’ club coach, said playing ODP helps prepare younger players for the high school level.
Both Hald and Giuliano are slated to attend Flagler Palm Coast next season. Playing together since they were about 8 years old in the Flagler County recreational soccer league, they are best friends.
That goes a long way on the field.
Hald typically players forward, although she has been selected as a defender for ODP. Giuliano is a center midfielder.
“She knows my strengths,” Madison Hald said.
“We know each other really well, so it’s easier to play because I know what she’s going to do,” Giuliano added.
That’s key, especially for a midfielder-striker combination.
“You want your center midfielder to find that forward in a position where they can be a threat,” Pete Hald said.
That combination has seemed to work so far this year — at least in club. Their FC United U14 club team is 8-0 this season, outscoring opponents 27-3 and winning two tournaments, most recently the Gator Showcase, in Gainesville. In fact, they had just got back into town Monday afternoon after winning in the finals, 2-1.
Both were wearing jeans, white shoes, tie-died T-shirt and brown headbands. That’s normal for them.
Madison Hald: in the top 2%
In addition to being selected for the Florida team, Madison Hald has been selected for two other high-caliber soccer camps that she will play in: One is later this month, and the other is in April.
Hald played for the FC United U13 Super Y-League team. Super Y-league teams are higher-level club teams that mostly participate over the summer.
About three weeks ago, Hald received an official invitation from the United Soccer League to participate in the USL Super Y-League National ODP camp, which will take place Feb. 28 to March 3, at the IMG Academy, in Bradenton. There, the U17 U.S. Women’s National Team staff will help train the players.
According to the letter, this invitation puts Hald in the top 2% of girls soccer players her age in the United States and Canada.
Then, about a week ago, Hald received another initiation — one the Halds have been hoping for since she was selected as a Region 3 player.
She was officially invited to participate for the Region 3 ODP team. Hald was selected as one of 60 players to join the pool from more than 350 players during last summer’s camp. She will head to Wake Forest University, in North Carolina, to train and play for four days April 18-21. Hald is one of 18 players picked for this camp.
“This is huge,” Pete Hald said. “You have to play Region 3 before you can be considered for the national pool, which is a long ways away. But, again, if you don’t play for the region, you don’t have a chance.”