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Showcase a success for college coaches

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Despite perpetual downpours and constant gloomy weather, it would be hard to call the 2016 NorCal NPL College Showcase anything other than a success.

At least if you ask any of the more than 120 coaches in attendance who watched over 200 boys and girls games in Modesto and Davis.

“It’s a great event and it’s always really well-organized — the facility is fantastic,” said Cal State Stanislaus Women’s Head Coach Gabriel Bolton. “When we’re recruiting, being able to see good players obviously is important, but if you’re not at a place that’s organized and you don’t have a good facility, then the best players don’t shine. The event itself, the location, the way it’s organized, all of those things make it a really great event for us to see players.”

Over the weekend, most teams played in two games that were competitive due to the fact that games also served as part of the National Premier League season and many title and Champions League races remained up for grabs coming into the fixtures.

“The teams for the most part are playing one game a day,” Bolton said. “I think that’s really helpful because you see players at their best, you never see anyone at their fourth game in two days, you’re not seeing players who played three hours earlier.

“The length of the games, which are pretty much full-length games, also gives you a lot of opportunity to evaluate somebody and see how they can handle a real game,” he added. “Other than not having a day off in between, it really mirrors the college game in a great way. The way the games play out, people are typically matched up in games that are competitive.”

For other college programs and coaches, it wasn’t just the competitiveness of the matches that stood out, but also the quality of play.

“For us at [UC Santa Barbara], we play a certain way, and I think NorCal, generally speaking, NorCal teams with the fields and the facilities, they play good soccer,” said Gaucho Women’s Associate Head Coach Austin Risenhoover. “So for us, it’s been great to come in here and dip into NorCal kids a little bit because it’s an easy transition for them when they come to UCSB.”

But achieving that style of play requires creating a situation conducive to it, something Bolton said NorCal does an excellent job of.

“The coaches out here aren’t subbing kids every five seconds which tends to happen when you go down to some of the bigger events where the games are only 25 minute or 30 minute halves and the parents paid a fortune for their kids to go there and you feel like you have to sub everybody every 10 minutes,” he said. “All of those things make this environment for me a lot more realistic to what you’re going to see in college and as a result makes it a lot easier to evaluate players.”

By Evan Ream. Follow @EvanReam