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Eastbrook's Foulk set for national showcase

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

Eastbrook junior Sarah Foulk and her Panthers teammates are busy preparing for the upcoming girls soccer season, which starts with the Grant County jamboree Saturday at Mississinewa.

For Foulk, the high school season and helping Eastbrook try to defend its streak of two straight sectional titles will be the beginning of a few months of outstanding competition on the pitch.

At the conclusion of the high school season, Foulk will rejoin her club team, Indy Premier Elite 17-and-under to begin prepping for matches in the U.S. Soccer National League, which is reserved for the top 32 club teams from around the country.

Foulk grew up playing for the Marion Lightning, but after discussions in the offeseason with her Eastbrook teammate Shauna Singer, who plays for a different team in the Indy Premier program, she decided to try out.

“I wanted to play at a higher level so I went down there and tried out and ended up really loving it,” Foulk said during Eastbrook's media day on Wednesday.

 “I just joined this club last season and I was lucky enough to play up for this team,” she added. “I played with the older team for regionals, we didn't end up winning but we did well enough that we ended up moving on. It's amazing and I just love playing for them.”

According to a press release from the Indy Premier, Foulk's team is just the fourth team in history from Indiana to ever qualify for the National League.

Foulk credited her time with the Marion Lightning with helping to set her down the path that she's on in soccer. But also said its a totally different skill level playing with the Indy Premier team.

“I loved Marion Lightning,” Foulk said. “I grew up playing backwards soccer, which is all rec, but once I started playing Marion Lightning, with girls who want to be there all the time and want to get better, it definitely made improve largely."

After leading the state with 51 goals for Eastbrook last season, Foulk has definitely opened some eyes around the state as to her ability on the pitch. She also admitted that playing with girls on the Premier team, most of whom hail from Indianapolis-area school systems, was a totally new experience.

“I didn't actually know there was anyone that good until I went to Indy,” Foulk said. “They're very, very good. It's eye opening just how good these players are. Everyone there wants to be there and they're training all the time, even when they're at home. It's fun to be around girls who want to play as much as you all the time.

“It's definitely made me improve a lot,” she added. “Their foot skill there is way better than mine and it's pushing me to get to that level. I've improved a ton.”

Once the National League begins, playing weekends will take place from December through March in North Carolina, Florida and Nevada. Foulk has been a starting guard for Eastbrook's basketball team the past two seasons and plans to be on the hardwood again for the Panthers.

“It hopefully shouldn't (interfere with basketball),” she said. “From the college coaches I've talked to, they want multi-sport athletes. I definitely want to play basketball and I'm planning on playing basketball this year.”

Foulk also definitely wants to be a college soccer player, though she's unsure right now what level she might fit in best. With still two full seasons left for Eastbrook on the pitch and numerous more club games ahead, the right opportunity will present itself at the right time.