Posted with permission from NJ.com High School Sports

The creation and beginning of a girls system for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy this fall forced a lot of girls to chose between high school soccer and Academy, but for some the option was left open to get the best of both this school year.

None of the girls who took that route will play for the Academy while their high school season is in session, so for now, those players are fully committed to their school. However, once the year is over the girls who took a waiver to play high school will be allowed to jump back in and play Academy soccer.

The option wasn't left open for every girl in the system, but for several who were offered the opportunity, a chance to play one last year of high school provided the perfect opening to make one last run with their teammates.

"I've always had very strong feelings about playing for my hometown high school soccer team," said Wall senior Amy Paternoster, who took a waiver from Sky Blue-PDA to compete on the high school level in 2017. "I attend a Vocational School, the Academy of Allied Health and Science, so playing soccer at Wall allows me the opportunity to stay connected to my hometown friends and teammates. There's something about playing on the field with teammates you've grown up with and looking into the stands and seeing all of the families you've known all your life cheering you and the team on. That is something special that I didn't want to lose in my senior year. I wanted to hold onto that feeling as long as I could."

Paternoster is one of six girls on the Sky Blue-PDA U-18/19 roster who will be playing high school soccer this fall and making a push for a state championship. The talented midfielder is joined by Colt Neck's Kayla LeeRidge's Erin Keefe and Kaitlyn MaddenToms River East's Shea Holland and Tom River North's Jenna Royson.

Royson's younger sister, Emily, will also be playing high school this year along with Sky Blue-PDA U-16/17 teammates Grace Karagjozi and Juliette Pike. Rumson-Fair Haven's Margot Ridgeway and Freehold Township's Gabriella Zuczek are just a few of the players who received a waiver from Cedar Stars Academy.

For Lee, the ability to play out her senior year at Colts Neck provides her a chance to leave the same mark that Amanda Visco, Ali Russo, Bridgette King and Frankie Tagliaferri left in the past in their final season with the Cougars.

"It was important to me that I could help lead and continue the success and traditions that the coaches and previous captains have fostered in past years," said Lee. "This year is finally our (the seniors) year to uphold the reputation of Colts Neck soccer and I really wanted to be a part of that. So when I found out I got a waiver to play high school it was the best of both worlds. I will be able to finish my career at Colts Neck with this awesome team and also be a part of this inaugural year of the girl's Development Academy."

The Shore Conference was the biggest benefactor of the waivers handed out this season, but the quality of soccer there also was a major reason behind players using the waiver to get back on the field for their high school. It's a compliment to the conference as a whole and also to the individual schools, which have created a culture that girls grow up wanting to be a part of.

"It is such a complement to the coaching staff, her teammates, and the program that she wants to play HS and be a captain," said Colts Neck coach Doug Phillips. "I think some of the DA (Development Academy) players that are opting to play for their high school is because, in most cases, they are in solid programs with some history and the girls want to continue to be a part of that.  We have a 100-point club banner in the gym with five names on it in our 18-year program history. I know Kayla wants to make that banner and understands what it means to put her name on something that nobody can take away from her.

"It’s that kind of stuff that club soccer will never give these girls; that some fourth-grader right now may one day look at that banner and think 'I am going to be the next name after Kayla Lee.'"

With Lee back in the fold, Colts Neck will be one of the favorites to reach the Group 3 final this season - a stage that it ascended to during her freshman and sophomore seasons. Toms River North will be in a good position as well in Group 4 with the Royson sisters back and Ridge will be too with the return of two defensive All-America candidates in Keefe and Madden.

"I just love high school soccer; I love the atmosphere and the team chemistry," Keefe said about making her return to Ridge. "I didn't want to miss that and I'm so glad that I got the waiver and that I can be here with this team. I wouldn't miss my senior year for anything."

Rumson-Fair Haven has a shot in Group 2 as well with Karagjozi and Ridgeway returning, but a battle-tested Wall team will be standing in its way. Wall has a senior-laden lineup that would have been in good standing without Paternoster, but having its star offensive piece and team leader back in place this season makes the Knights a favorite to make history and win the program's first-ever outright state title.

"I know Amy loves high school soccer and I do not think anything would have kept her away from playing this season," said Wall coach Mike Juska, whose team won a share of the Group 3 title last season.​ "This is why we are lucky to have a strong tradition of girls soccer in our town. Just like many of the girls on our team, Amy values the opportunity to play for her town and with girls she has known her whole life.​ She has had an amazing career so far at Wall and I know she is hungry to accomplish more for our community. She is the leader of our team and​ ​takes pride in being part of our program​; it​ means a lot t​o our team and myself​ that she decided to play.

"(Amy) is committed to play soccer at Princeton next year and could easily ​have​ not played (for Wall)​,​ but she isn't the type of person to not finish something she started."

Brandon Gould may be reached at bgould@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonGouldHSLike NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.