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USWNT takes notice as Spirit rookie Hershfelt flourishes in the pros

Hal Hershfelt was among the 23 players named to the USWNT roster for pre-Olympic friendlies in June

Photo Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

“Oh my god, did that just happen?” was the first thought that went through rookie Hal Hershfelt’s mind after she scored the Washington Spirit’s first goal of the season — an equalizer against National Women’s Soccer League newcomer Bay FC — during the club’s home opener in March.

“The reaction you get at Audi [Field] is unlike anything that I’ve ever played in front of,” she said in an interview.

That was just the beginning for Hershfelt, who has flourished under the significant freedom she’s found as a player in the professional ranks. So much so that she has earned her first call up to the U.S. women’s national team as part of head coach Emma Hayes’ first 23-player roster for a pair of June friendlies. The 21-year-old is one of just two players who will be making their senior national team debut (the other being Red Stars defender Sam Staab) at the upcoming summer matches against Korea. These will be the final games played by the team before the 2024 Olympic roster is set.

In the two months since netting her first goal, Hershfelt has scored another and made nine starts in 10 caps for a team that sits at third in the NWSL standings at 7–0–3. The jump from Clemson to the NWSL has been about as smooth as Hershfelt could’ve hoped for, but her poise on the pitch perhaps undersells the transition she’s undertaken: she’s now playing in a truer center midfield role for the Spirit at the eight, despite spending her college career at the more defensive six, all under an interim coach who has given her a much more active role in the offense than she had before.

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