If Morgan Andrews isn’t a familiar name, she should be.
The two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school has begun her collegiate career at Notre Dame as expected: with a bang. Andrews was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday after scoring the game-winning goal to lift the Irish past then-No. 1 North Carolina, 1-0.
With the Irish in their first season as members of the ACC, Andrews is the first Notre Dame player to garner the award, a fitting feat for a player who is one of only nine athletes to ever repeat as high school player of the year, joining the likes of LeBron James, Candace Parker and Marion Jones.
“I think she is the best freshman in the ACC and she continues to get better each week,” Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum said. “She is adjusting quickly to the college game, and is becoming an attacking catalyst for us in midfield.”
Andrews captained the most recent U-17 U.S. World Cup team, which failed to escape the group stage due to goal differential in a wacky three-way tie for first that left the Americans out due to their inability to pile on Gambia more than France and North Korea.
She’ll likely play a big role in next year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada, and despite being only 18, she absolutely has to be on the near-future radar of Tom Sermanni in order to get her into senior national team camps. Maybe that means a call-up after that U-20 tournament; Sermanni has a history of giving young players chances.
Is the 2015 World Cup a possibility for Andrews? Probably not. But mark it down – she’s a pencil-in midfielder for 2019, which is far too far out to predict, but it’s never too early to start talking, as ESPN’s Graham Hays writes in this spectacular profile of the young star.
I asked Sermanni about Andrews at the National Women’s Soccer League Championship on August 31 and a U.S. Soccer official was quick to point out that she hasn’t even played in a a U-20 World Cup yet.
Hays followed up minutes later in a separate setting, and Sermanni acknowledged he has seen Andrews play from going to youth camps in Los Angeles, but it’s too early to talk about her involvement in the senior team.
“I haven’t seen enough to make a judgment just yet,” U.S. coach Tom Sermanni said. “But she’s done pretty well in the Under-20s and she’s somebody that’s sort of on the radar.”
Andrews stood out even against professional players in the 2012 WPSL Elite League, most notably in a 3-3 thriller for the underdog New England Mutiny vs. eventual champion Western New York Flash. Andrews had a goal and an assist in that game, with her setup of Kate Howarth’s go-ahead goal coming after Andrews dribbled right through Flash central midfielders Lori Lindsey and McCall Zerboni (pictured left). That was the 17-year-old kid showing she can hang.
This cycle, Andrews will likely be in Canada one year early — in 2014 for the U-20 World Cup. But everywhere she’s played in her still very young career — high school, club, semi-pro and now in the opening weeks of college — she’s risen above. Andrews will be 24 years old when the 2019 World Cup rolls around. The hype machine is usually just that, but the level-headed Andrews is right on track to be a big piece of the United States in the future, just as she has to date.
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