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 fashion from a few 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 towards Sweden within the spherical of 16. The U.S. crew is a mixture of rookies and seasoned veterans, together with 5 former Stanford gamers: Kelley O’Hara ’10, Andi Sullivan ’18, Alana Cook dinner ’19, Naomi Girma ’22 and Sophia Smith ’22.

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

26-year-old Cook 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 response to Invoice Hawkey, who coached Cook dinner at Pennington Excessive College, Cook dinner’s management abilities have been evident even in highschool, on the classroom and on the sphere. “She epitomized an honest-to-goodness scholar athlete,” Hawkey mentioned.

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

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

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 woman, a standout pupil that would’ve gotten into Stanford even with out her athletic abilities,” wrote Jean Coder, who coached Sullivan at South County Excessive College. “As a participant, her intelligence transforms her right into a player-coach on the sphere.”

Sullivan performed with Cook dinner at Stanford for 3 seasons. She led the Cardinal to the 2017 NCAA Championship and received 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 tasks,” Coder wrote. 

Sullivan was the No. 1 draft decide for Washington Spirit in 2018. She now serves because the crew captain and led them to a 2021 NWSL Championship win. The identical 12 months, she scored her first and second purpose 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 wherever on area, as a pupil 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 undoubtedly all say what a stunning younger woman she was and continues to be,” Coder mentioned. 

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 among 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 school. Girma received each the NWSL Rookie of the 12 months and Defender of the 12 months honors. 

A primary-generation American born to Ethiopian mother and father, Girma began her soccer profession attending a pal’s apply at 9 years outdated. Bob Joyce, who coached her youth membership crew Central Valley Crossfire, mentioned, “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 particular person on the crew sheet’ kind of participant each single time.”

In response to Rapinoe, Girma is “going to be the way forward for the crew for a very long time.” 

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

Smith rapidly noticed skilled success after profitable 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. 

Identified for her aggressive spirit, Smith instructed The Guardian that her profession can be a “fixed grind and getting higher.”

Present USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski mentioned Smith has the “potential to be among the best gamers on this planet” in an interview with Simply Girls’s Sports activities.

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

After kicking off the World Cup with two objectives 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 objectives, received the MAC Hermann Trophy and led her crew to its first NCAA championship finals in 2009. The 2009 NCAA championship stays Stanford’s greatest all-time document (25-1).

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

O’Hara at the moment performs for New Jersey crew 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 together with her purpose within the 97th minute. 

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

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