Posted: 12:15 pm Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Girls soccer: American Heritage, St. Andrew’s standouts vie for Colombia’s London 2012 Olympic team 

By Matt Porter

It’s going to be a busy spring for Yulie Lopez and Catalina Perez.

American Heritage's Yulie Lopez (13) works against Jacksonville-Bolles defenders in the 2011 Class 2A state final. Lopez will try out for the Colombian national team. (Michael Laughlin/Sun-Sentinel)

American Heritage's Yulie Lopez (13) works against Jacksonville-Bolles defenders in the 2011 Class 2A state final. Lopez will try out for the Colombian national team. (Michael Laughlin/Sun-Sentinel)

Lopez, a junior at American Heritage, and Perez, a junior at St. Andrew’s, earned tryouts for the women’s team that will represent Colombia in the 2012 Olympics in London.

The two will fly to Bogota, Colombia in April to try out with a group of 30 women. Eighteen will make the final cut.

“They’re grown women who basically all they do is play soccer,” said Lopez, who plays club soccer for Coral Springs United and is committed to Florida State. “I’m extremely nervous.”

While American soccer relies on speed and athleticism, “South American soccer is technical than anything,” she said. “Colombian soccer is more thinking and basically playing around with your opponents. I’m just trying to keep up with them.”

Perez

Perez

Lopez scored 52 goals with 33 assists last season for American Heritage, which won its third consecutive state title.

According to FIFA rules, Lopez, an American-born Wellington native, may represent Colombia as long as she can prove a direct connection to the country (her parents are Colombian) and has not played for another country in full-squad international competition (she previously camped with U.S. junior national teams at the U-14 and U-18 level).

Perez, who was born in Colombia, missed some of the 2011-12 high school season to play for Columbia’s national team. She will compete with three other keepers for a spot on the London entry. She was a backup for Colombia’s national team at the 2011 Pan American Games and was a backup on Colombia’s Under-20 team at the 2011 U-20 FIFA World Cup.

Colombian Women’s Head Coach Ricardo Rozo stopped in South Florida recently on a tour of the U.S., during which he is scouting players and promoting Colombian women’s soccer. As detailed in this New York Times piece, women’s soccer in Colombia has developed slowly due to societal attitudes in the country.

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