Grace Powell to play for U.S. 18U futsal team in Argentina this summer

If the College of Charleston made incoming freshmen write a 500-word essay on how they spent their summer, Grace Powell would have little trouble fulfilling the assignment.

Sure, Powell, who graduated from Pinewood Prep in late May, had the typical summer job, hung out with her high school classmates one last time and contemplated her future.

She also can write about her trip to Argentina later this month as part of the U.S. 18U futsal team. She will return to the United States on Aug. 2 after playing in three friendly matches and then check in at the College of Charleston on Aug. 5.

It’s an experience Powell won’t soon forget.

“We leave on the 24th (of July) and it will be non-stop,” said Powell, who will be one of eight newcomers on the College of Charleston soccer team. “I can’t wait and know it will be a good experience.”

This summer will mark the third time Powell has played in the international futsal tournament. Two years ago, she played for the U.S. 16-U futsal team that traveled to Medellin, Colombia to compete in some international friendlies, and the trip was a success. She helped the U.S. to a 3-0 record as the team’s keeper. She allowed only one goal in the tourney and earned the goalkeeping award for all the American teams that competed in the event.

Last year, she traveled to Costa Rica to play in the tourney.

If you wonder exactly what futsal is, wonder no more.

Futsal is a hybrid of soccer played on a smaller field and mainly indoors. The game is played between two teams of five players each, and unlimited substitutions are permitted.

What makes this different than other forms of soccer is futsal is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular soccer ball because the surface of the field.

The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.

“It’s a big transition for me,” Powell said. “I play forward in soccer but for futsal, I’m a goalkeeper. So there’s that transition.”

The trip to Argentina will include a day of training and one day of team-building adventure prior to the three match days, plus a gap day for rest and local sightseeing.

Powell isn’t concerned about injury so close to the start of the school year.

“I don’t worry about injuries,” she said. “You can get hurt by doing just about anything. It’s all about training and playing. You just want to keep active in the environment.”

Powell finished her career at Pinewood Prep with 102 goals and was named all-state for the second time after helping Pinewood Prep to the SCISA state championship match in May. And on June 25, she received word that she had been named to the United Soccer Coaches High School Scholar All-America Team.

Athletics will be just half of the equation at the College of Charleston. She plans to major in biology at the CofC with hopes of becoming a doctor.

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