A select group of 17 Central Texas soccer players have been chosen to be part of a team that will be traveling to Osan, Korea, from May 31 to June 7.

Osan, a city of about 120,000 just outside Seoul, is the sister city to Killeen and the trip is a result of the Killeen Sister Cities program and both the program and the city of Killeen have been beneficial in helping find money for the team to travel.

"It's been just an overall effort from the people in the community," said coach Randy Ploeckelmann.

Freddy Guerrero is also coaching the team.

Last year, a group of male players from Osan came to Texas for a week thanks to the Sister City program.

The girls will play three games against a middle school team and two high school teams, but will also save some time for sightseeing.

"When the delegation told me that we would be playing (a middle school team) I said middle school? Well, we're playing at a pretty high level,' and he expressed to me that they are a national-level team," Ploeckelmann said. "Their level of training I expect will be a little bit higher than ours. With us being a mixed team, they haven't had the opportunity to practice together much so it will be challenging."

The team consists of a combination of two different-aged teams from the Tri-County Soccer Club. The club is an organization that services Central Texas youth.

The team boasts two of the area's top scorers in Angie Belford and Jessica Stuckey.

Belford has had several offers from Division I schools to play soccer after graduation.

"The whole thing is to give them exposure and see different parts of the world and different culture," said Guerrero. "When we first said Korea, a lot them weren't sure they wanted to go, but they're pretty excited about it now."

While the girls will face some tough competition, both coaches feel like the team is capable of holding its own.

"They like each other," Ploeckelmann said. "Coming from mixed teams that's important. We also have a lot of speed."

Laura Warwick, the team mother/manager/chaperone, will be traveling to Korea as well.

"It's interesting to see them change," said Warwick. "As they play in high school and with each other, their skills and their personalities have changed.

"They are representing the area, especially Killeen, but, really, the whole Central Texas area in going to Korea."

Contact Raegan Stanley at rstanley@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7564.

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