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Post Falls junior Kelcie Hedge works out at Rockwood's Sports Performance Center prior to joining the U.S. U-17 national team. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Post Falls junior earns spot on U.S. U-17 women’s national soccer team

Kelcie Hedge is going places. The next stop: Jamaica.

The vehicle is soccer, but the engine is fueled by Hedge’s relentless drive.

“She doesn’t let adversity or anyone’s opinion stop her from chasing her goals and dreams,” said Kevin Moon, the director of the Spokane Soccer Academy, where Hedge has trained since she was 12.

The next goal is a spot in the World Cup with the United States Under-17 national team, which brought Hedge on board this summer in time for a trip to England.

Unfazed by the moment, Hedge played as a reserve in a 6-0 win on Aug. 25, then scored early in a 5-0 victory three days later.

“I was just really excited when I got the news,” said Hedge, a 16-year-old forward from Post Falls. “I know that a lot of girls dream of it, to get to where I am.”

Right now she’s in Florida, training with the other 19 team members; coaches have shown her how to be “more explosive and how to play smarter,” Hedge said.

She’ll return home Saturday for a week before embarking on Oct. 26 for Montego Bay, Jamaica, and a Halloween Day match against Trinidad and Tobago.

The four-team round-robin continues with matches Nov. 2 against Guatemala and Nov. 4 against Canada. The top two teams will qualify for the World Cup on March 15-April 5 in Costa Rica.

Talent brought Hedge this far – coaches praise her speed, ability in open space, the timing of her attacking runs, and more – but the skills were fashioned through strong coaching and hard work since she was 4 years old. That’s when her parents, Todd and Lori, introduced Kelcie to the game.

“I’ve just loved the game and had the passion for it,” said Hedge, who also credits the coaching of Moon and Seth Spidahl, who two years ago added her to the roster of the Washington Premier FC team based in Puyallup, Wash.

Along the way, Hedge played for two years with the Post Falls High School team, scoring 18 goals and 12 assists to lead the Trojans to a runner-up finish at state. The year before, she put 25 balls in the net as a freshman.

Now a junior at Post Falls, she carries a 3.81 grade-point average, but had to give up the high school game for the sake of the national team.

“It’s tough not being able to play for them,” said Hedge, who has verbally committed to play in 2015 at the University of Washington.

Hedge’s talent is undeniable, but the improvement over the years was literally one step at a time. At the Spokane Soccer Academy, Moon focused on improving her footwork.

“She wouldn’t be the player she is without his training, guidance and support,” Lori Hedge said of Moon, who in turn deflects the praise to the player herself.

“She’s a very quiet kid on the inside, but you get her on the field, she shows her competitiveness,” Moon said. “It’s not something you teach – she has God-given talent, but also God-given drive, that’s what Kelcie has.

“She’s a special player and a phenomenal person too,” Moon said.