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Janet Rayfield announced as 2012 Honor Award recipient and will present at 2013 Convention

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America's Honor Award is the most prestigious distinction the Association presents to an individual. It recognizes that individual's contribution to the game of soccer and to the NSCAA. She is the first-ever female recipient of the award.

This year's winner, Illinois head women's coach Janet Rayfield, embodies those and many other characteristics known to accompany Honor Award recipients. Her coaching credentials include a national championship, eight NCAA Tournament appearances, two Big Ten Tournament titles and stints as an assistant coach for the US Women's National and U-20 Teams.

Adding to that, Rayfield has also served as the NSCAA president and is currently an NSCAA Senior National Staff coach. She will not only accept the Honor Award at the 2013 Convention in January, but is also a featured clinican at the event.

You can read more about her experience as an assistant coach at this past September's Under-20 World Cup below. The feature touches on her Convention presentation topic "A Session from the Road to the U20 World Championship."

By Dean Linke, @VoiceofNSCAA

“All of us together are better than one of us alone…and one of us is not as good as all of us.

“That was the saying for our entire staff at the World Cup and, even, leading up to the World Cup,” said US Women's U-20 head coach Steve Swanson. He, Janet Rayfield and the rest of the staff guided a talented team that brought back the title at the 2012 Women’s Under-20 World Cup in Japan this past September, defeating Germany, 1-0, in the final. 

“It was a great model for teamwork and leadership and (longtime University of Illinois women’s soccer coach) Janet Rayfield was an invaluable part of the team.”

Rayfield, revered as one of the best communicators in the game, as well as a beacon for women’s soccer with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), was an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the Under-20 World Cup.

“Janet is one of the best coaches in America. She is outstanding in everything she does,” Swanson said of Rayfield. “Janet deserves as much credit as anybody, as does our entire coaching staff, doctors, trainers…everyone involved with that team.”

“It was a pretty amazing experience,” Rayfield recalled. She plans to share many key parts of the USA’s on-field attack at the 2012 international event as a featured clinician at the 2013 NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis. Her session will take place Thursday, Jan. 17 at 12:45 p.m.

Rayfield, who served as NSCAA president in 2003 while on her way to becoming the all-time winningest coach at Illinois, said her goal is to ‘try and bring the U-20 Women’s World Cup experience to the Convention and to the NSCAA members.

“I want to share the prep work leading up to the World Cup, how we trained, and how we incorporated tactical ideas.”

Rayfield plans to illustrate the tactical preparation of the U.S. team as it worked within a 4-3-3 formation.

“The tactical preparation we shared together throughout the entire process, not just at the World Cup, but leading up to the World Cup, was a true collaborative effort,” Rayfield said. 

“Our forwards and midfielders evolved through every camp.  We continued to try and show them where the space was, what kind of runs up top would work, how they could set up their defenders, and how they could create space for themselves and their teammates.”

The midfield featured Sarah Killion (UCLA), along with Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois) and Morgan Brian (Virginia), as well as Samantha Mewis (UCLA) and Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame).

The front line included Maya Hayes (Penn State), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina), Kelly Cobb (Duke), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford) and Becca Wann (Richmond).

“With the quality of players on this team, our spacing in the midfield in terms of our possession game and our ball movement was critical,” Rayfield said. “With three midfielders, we tried to illustrate the importance of their spacing in relation to each other as well as to the forwards as we started to move the ball.”

Rayfield noted that the spacing was key the second time around against Germany. the USA fell to Germany 3-0 in the opening round. 

“There is always space somewhere on the field. The challenge is to have the compliment of tactical ideas to exploit those spaces, the awareness to recognize and identify them, and then the physical and technical ability to exploit them. 

“I feel by the time we got to the final this team had all of those elements.

“On our goal against Germany in the final, we reversed the point of attack; Maya (Hayes) got the ball wide on the right side.  She laid the ball back to our holding midfielder (Sarah Killion) and our outside back Crystal Dunn (North Carolina) overlapped.  Dunn played a great ball across the goal, and Kealia (Ohai) finished.”

Can we expect to see that goal played back at your 2013 NSCAA Convention session?

“If we get Maya, Crystal, Sarah and Kealia out on the demonstration floor we might,” Rayfield said with a smile. “But my goal is to share the ideas – it took this team months to put all the pieces together so I don’t know that you will see a group of demonstrators put it together in 75 minutes. Hopefully, coaches will see what might work for their players and their team.”

Well, coach, it worked for the USA. And, make no mistake, helping US Soccer remain the world’s best in women’s soccer continues to work for Rayfield.

Join us in January for the 2013 NSCAA Convention in Indianapolis. You can register for the annual event and housing here.