Sports

Morgan Andrews enjoying run with US at U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Cayman Islands

Thursday, January 16, 2014

By GEORGE SCIONE

Staff Writer

There is no stopping Morgan Andrews from enjoying paradise.

The Milford native is making the most of yet another opportunity that being a star on the pitch has created for her. As a member of the United States U-20 women’s soccer team, Andrews and her American teammates are punishing their opponents at the U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in the Cayman Islands.

The Stars and Stripes have scored 19 goals and allowed none in three games – dominating Group A with a 6-0 opening win over Costa Rica on Jan. 9, a 3-0 victory over Jamaica on Jan. 11, and a 10-0 shellacking of Guatemala on Monday – to advance along with second place Costa Rica into Friday’s semifinals at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands.

The U.S. is the only team to not allow a goal during pool play. Even Group B’s top seed, Mexico, allowed a goal in a 10-1 win over Honduras, the group’s third-place finisher.

“We’re playing really well right now,” Andrews said. “We have a real good team chemistry. I think that’s showing itself in the results. We’re just working our way into the next stage. We weren’t looking past anybody to get there, we had to earn it. We locked up a semifinal spot and now it’s another big game coming up.

“I think teams in the other group were going through the same situation. We are focusing on one game at a time, and I’m sure they were too.”

Now Andrews and her teammates can officially look at those Group B standings, which saw Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago also advance to Friday’s semifinals.

Andrews’ trip to the Caribbean comes not long after finishing her first season of collegiate soccer at Notre Dame. It was a successful season, no doubt, as the Fighting Irish posted a 13-8-1 record and reached the third round of the NCAA Championship tournament.

Andrews started all 22 matches in 2013 while recording a team-high 19 points (seven goals, five assists) and four match-winning goals on her way to being named ACC Freshman of the Year, to go along with NSCAA third-team
all-region, second-team all-ACC and ACC All-Freshman Team
honors.

As was the case at Milford High School, she also had a knack for coming through in the clutch.

Her first-half goal at top-ranked North Carolina on Sept. 15 gave Notre Dame a 1-0 win, as the Fighting Irish upset the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C. She scored a pair of first-half goals in her NCAA tournament debut, helping ignite a Notre Dame rally from an early deficit to rout of Iowa.

Now she’s back on the world’s stage.

“It’s different than the college experience,” Andrews said. “Soccer-wise, the level has increased that mush more. The game picked up it’s pace so much more from high school to college. This is an even bigger increase in the difference of play.”

Play she’s been used to since her 2008 debut with the U-14 Girls National Team. Like in every other facet of her career, Andrews has seen success during her climb up the U.S. ladder.

Prior to the start of this calendar year when she moved into the U-20 system, Andrews was a major contributor for the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team, earning 20 caps and starting 15 times while logging two goals and two assists. Her biggest role came as U.S. captain for the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan, with the Americans winning the CONCACAF title in dominating fashion (26-0 aggregate) and finishing in a three-way tie for first in their group at the World Cup (only to be eliminated on goal differential).

“It’s just another level,” said Andrews of jumping from U-17 to U-20. “It’s one step closer to the next level. I’m starting to realize how close I am to where I want to be, but I’m not there yet. I just need to keep working hard to achieve my goals. Right now it’s our goals that are important. We have some big matches coming up and it’s going to take us all coming together playing for that one purpose to keep advancing. This is a team that can accomplish the ultimate goal if we just focus on one game and play it out until the final whistle.”

Andrews and her U.S. teammates take the pitch against either Mexico or Trinidad and Tobago in the Friday’s semifinals, which kick off at 4 p.m. on FOX Soccer 2GO.

The championship and third-place matches are set for Sunday with the top three finishers from the CONCACAF Championship (two finalists, plus winner of the third-place match) earning a berth to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

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