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Collegiate lineup encourages learning
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Young athletes can learn the basics of the game from their coaches and parents, but some lessons are best learned from watching it done by experienced hands.

Local soccer players can get those lessons over the next few weeks as 10 college soccer teams come to the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association. The association, located on Old Salem Road in Conyers, hosts several spring matches, starting Saturday at 1 p.m., with four teams playing on two separate fields.

Georgia Perimeter’s men’s team will take on Anderson College, while Clayton State’s men’s team takes on Emmanuel College at 1 p.m., kicking off the free to the public event.

Both men’s and women’s teams from all levels of college soccer will participate in the event, which features eight games from 1 p.m. until around 7 p.m.

Participating teams include Clayton State, Emanuel College, GPC and Anderson College on the men’s side and Mercer, Georgia Gwinnett College, Wofford and Clayton State on the women’s.

“We’ve got a mix of some Division I teams, some Division II teams, an [North Association of Intercollegiate Athletics] team and a good junior college team as well,” RYSA Director of Coaching Rafe Mauran said. “There will be a lot of good players on those teams.”

Along with quality soccer, the collegiate teams will also bring some familiar faces back to the RYSA complex. Former players Paul Bates, Mandy Schneider and Haley Ferrell now coach Emanuel College, Georgia Gwinnett College and Wofford, respectively.

Two and a half weeks after these eight spring matches, RYSA will host a Division I exhibition women’s game, pitting Georgia against Georgia State.

The Bulldogs and Panthers will face off at RYSA Tuesday, April 9 at 7 p.m.

“We wanted to have a marque-type game during spring,” Mauran said.

It’s the third-straight year RYSA has hosted a women’s college game, bringing high-level soccer to the area, and giving its young players a chance to see elite players.

“It’s good for our kids,” Mauran said. “To get that close to it and see how college players carry themselves in warm-ups and during matches, and how they react to different situations is important for our kids.”