Former coaches cheer on Stanford alums in World Cup

Highschool coaches expressed admiration for the management and drive of Stanford alums within the Girls’s World Cup and shared insights on their type from a number of the earliest factors of their soccer careers, as they search to make historical past with a 3rd consecutive World Cup title for the U.S. Girls’s Nationwide Staff.

After the U.S. narrowly escaped elimination within the group stage, USWNT and Cardinal followers are gearing up for an thrilling match in opposition to Sweden within the spherical of 16. The U.S. staff is a mixture of rookies and seasoned veterans, together with 5 former Stanford gamers: Kelley O’Hara ’10, Andi Sullivan ’18, Alana Prepare dinner ’19, Naomi Girma ’22 and Sophia Smith ’22.

Kyra Carusa ’18 and Ali Riley ’10, who had been eradicated earlier within the match, performed for Eire and New Zealand, respectively. 

26-year-old Prepare dinner is making her first World Cup look as a defender for the USWNT however she is an skilled chief. She served as Stanford’s captain her senior 12 months and captained the U17 and U23 nationals squads in 2013 and 2019, respectively. 

In keeping with Invoice Hawkey, who coached Prepare dinner at Pennington Excessive Faculty, Prepare dinner’s management expertise had been evident even in highschool, on the classroom and on the sector. “She epitomized an honest-to-goodness scholar athlete,” Hawkey stated.

Prepare dinner had a “tactical mindset that gave us as coaches the sense that there was one other coach on the sector,” Hawkey stated. Prepare dinner is a “fierce competitor, [with] prime work charge in coaching and video games,” and a “splendidly supportive teammate,” Hawkey wrote. 

Prepare dinner beforehand performed for membership staff Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 and 2020 earlier than becoming a member of the NSWL staff OL Reign, who gained the 2022 NWSL championship. Hawkey described Hook’s dedication to her staff as a by line in her soccer profession. “[She is] a certainly one of a sort participant/individual [who] at all times places staff wants first over any particular person targets [and is] an actual selfless individual.”

27-year-old midfielder Sullivan is one other Cardinal alum who’s making her World Cup debut with a historical past of success.

“Andi is a really clever younger girl, a standout scholar that would’ve gotten into Stanford even with out her athletic expertise,” wrote Jean Coder, who coached Sullivan at South County Excessive Faculty. “As a participant, her intelligence transforms her right into a player-coach on the sector.”

Sullivan performed with Prepare dinner at Stanford for 3 seasons. She led the Cardinal to the 2017 NCAA Championship and gained the the MAC Hermann Trophy, offered to the highest participant in collegiate soccer. 

“Andi is a complete participant — she’s aggressive, self motivated, prepared to take dangers and duties,” Coder wrote. 

Sullivan was the No. 1 draft choose for Washington Spirit in 2018. She now serves because the staff captain and led them to a 2021 NWSL Championship win. The identical 12 months, she scored her first and second objective on the worldwide stage on the Tokyo Olympics. She began 15 video games for the USWNT in 2022. 

Coder described Sullivan as “ tenacious — a full area participant that may play anyplace on area, as a scholar of the sport, she is fast to acknowledge the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.”

“She was a lot admired by all our space coaches who would positively all say what a beautiful younger girl she was and continues to be,” Coder stated. 

Although the USWNT roster is stuffed with girls new to the World Cup, it’s particularly distinctive for its younger, up and coming gamers. At solely 23, Girma is likely one of the promising younger gamers that involves thoughts.

After main Stanford to a 2019 NCAA Championship win and serving because the captain for 3 years, she began in 19 video games for the San Diego Wave throughout her first 12 months out of faculty. Girma gained each the NWSL Rookie of the 12 months and Defender of the 12 months honors. 

A primary-generation American born to Ethiopian dad and mom, Girma began her soccer profession attending a pal’s observe at 9 years previous. Bob Joyce, who coached her youth membership staff Central Valley Crossfire, stated, “Naomi may be very quick and fast … [and] additionally very skillful and mentally robust.” 

USWNT veteran Megan Rapinoe spoke extremely of Girma in an interview on Simply Girls Sports activities: “There are only a few gamers in my entire tenure which have stepped in and it’s similar to, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the primary individual on the staff sheet’ kind of participant each single time.”

In keeping with Rapinoe, Girma is “going to be the way forward for the staff for a very long time.” 

Maybe probably the most promising younger participant, nevertheless, is 22-year-old ahead Sophia Smith. 

Smith rapidly noticed skilled success after successful the 2019 NCAA match with Stanford. She was drafted No. 1 in 2020 for the Portland Thorns and went on to win the NWSL Championship in 2022. She additionally grew to become the primary participant born after 2000 to earn a global look (a “cap”) with the USWNT in November 2020. 

Recognized for her aggressive spirit, Smith advised The Guardian that her profession might be a “fixed grind and getting higher.”

Present USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski stated Smith has the “potential to be probably the greatest gamers on the earth” in an interview with Simply Girls’s Sports activities.

Jamaican Girls’s Nationwide Staff coach Lorne Donaldson, who coached Smith at youth membership staff Actual Colorado, echoed Andonovski. “You give [Sophia] half an opportunity, she’s going to take it. Wonderful footballer,” he stated in an interview with Simply Girls’s Sports activities.

After kicking off the World Cup with two targets and an help, Smith appears to be proving her coaches proper. 

Regardless that the USWNT is stuffed with new gamers, it isn’t missing in skilled expertise, together with 34-year-old defender O’Hara. A four-time World Cup participant and two-time World Cup winner, O’Hara’s management was instrumental to the USWNT advancing to the knockout stage. 

O’Hara had a stellar profession at Stanford, the place she scored 57 targets, gained the MAC Hermann Trophy and led her staff to its first NCAA championship finals in 2009. The 2009 NCAA championship stays Stanford’s greatest all-time file (25-1).

Brian Moore, who coached O’Hara at varied youth golf equipment, advised Alive! she “was a relentless objective scorer, most likely braver than anyone I’d ever seen.”

O’Hara presently performs for New Jersey staff Gotham FC. She beforehand performed for six different groups, together with the Washington Spirit. O’Hara helped safe the Washington Spirit’s 2021 NSWL Championship win along with her objective within the 97th minute. 

O’Hara can also be identified for her grit and no-nonsense angle. “I prefer to be smiley and pleased, and also you’ll see me laughing off the sector … However once I cross the road and the whistle blows, I’m locked in,” stated O’Hara in an interview with Forbes.

O’Hara and the 5 Cardinal are an essential a part of the USWNT’s path to a three-peat. The USA performs Sweden within the first spherical of the knockout stage on Aug. 6.