June 26, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame sophomore defender Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove), sophomore forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) and sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy), along with incoming freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) and rookie goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley), are among 27 players who have been selected to attend the United States Under-20 Women's National Soccer Team camp July 2-11 at the University of Portland in Portland, Ore.
Notre Dame has, by far, the largest contingent among college programs taking part in next week's training camp (Southern California is second with three participants). The nine-day session, which is designed to continue the U-20 team's preparation for qualifying for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, will feature a pair of scrimmages with National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) teams, as the U-20s take on the Seattle Reign (whose roster includes U.S. Women's National Team members Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo) and Portland Thorns FC (paced by USWNT forward Alex Morgan and Canadian National Team striker Christine Sinclair).
Andrews, Naughton and Roccaro (pronounced row-CAH-row) have been mainstays in the U-20 camp through 2013, highlighted by their participation with the American side in March for three matches in La Manga, Spain, at the 12 Nations Tournament. The United States went 0-1-2 at the event, earning draws with Norway (1-1) and Sweden (0-0), while falling to Germany (3-0).
Roccaro served as the American captain and started all three matches in Spain, playing the full 90 minutes each time. Andrews, who was making her international debut at the U-20 level, also started all three contests, going the distance against Norway and Sweden, while coming off midway through the second half against Germany. Naughton, who also was in her first international U-20 tournament, started and went the distance against Sweden, while coming on as a second-half substitute in the first two matches (replacing Andrews in the Germany contest).
Naughton and Roccaro most recently competed with the U-20s on a two-match trip to Sweden less than a month ago, defeating the Scandinavian U-23 side twice (3-1 and 1-0). Both Fighting Irish sophomores got the start in each of the Sweden matches, with Roccaro playing every minute in both contests, while Naughton departed at halftime of the second match. Andrews would have joined her future Notre Dame teammates in Sweden, but was excused from the trip to attend to a prior family commitment.
Thomas will be making her first appearance with the U-20 National Team next week, although she has prior U.S. youth national team camp experience, having taken part in the U-23 training sessions last month at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Meanwhile, Little returns to U-20 camp after her first stint with that program earlier this year (Feb. 2-9) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the result of her success at the inaugural U.S. Soccer Women's National Team youth Goalkeeper Identification Camp (Dec. 7-10, 2012) in Chula Vista, Calif.
Roccaro has been a mainstay with the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team for more than a year, earning 17 caps and 13 starting nods during her tenure. Among her U-20 career highlights was her participation at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, when she and Notre Dame senior midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) played key roles in the Americans' run to their third U-20 World Cup title. Roccaro appeared in five of the United States' six matches, starting four times, and helping the U.S. to a 4-1-1 record that included three shutouts, most notably over Nigeria (2-0) and Germany (1-0) in the semifinals and championship match. The Stars & Stripes also had to battle through a 2-1 extra-time victory over North Korea in the quarterfinals.
While still a novice at the U-20 level, Naughton has extensive experience with other U.S. youth national teams since 2009, most notably teaming with Roccaro to help the 2010 U.S. U-17 National Team to the U-16 Nordic Cup title in Denmark, outscoring its four opponents by a combined 13-1 margin.
Andrews also is no stranger to the U.S. Soccer kits, having emerged as one of the rising stars in the American youth system since her debut in 2008 with the U-14 Girls' National Team. 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).
Naughton, Roccaro and Thomas were three of the important young contributors last season for Notre Dame, which posted a 16-6-2 record, earned a share of the BIG EAST Conference National Division title (8-1-1 record), and advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the 15th time in program history.
Naughton was a third-team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST All-Rookie Team selection in 2012 as a cornerstone of Notre Dame's defense at center back. She started all 23 matches she played in, helping the Fighting Irish hold their opponents to 18 goals all season (a 0.73 goals-against average) while recording 10 shutouts. On the offensive end, Naughton scored three goals and added one assist, most notably scoring what proved to be the match-winning goal in the first half of a 5-1 win over Seton Hall on Oct. 5 at Alumni Stadium. She also netted the tying goal in the 44th minute of Notre Dame's 3-1 victory over Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Nov. 9, also at Alumni Stadium.
The versatile Roccaro was named the 2012 Soccer America Freshman of the Year and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) third-team All-American despite missing Notre Dame's first seven matches while competing in the U-20 World Cup. She started all 16 matches she played in and ranking third on the team in goals (6), points (13), total shots (41) and shots on goal (21) while earning three conference honors -- BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, All-BIG EAST First Team and All-BIG EAST Rookie Team.
Upon her return from Japan, Roccaro immediately stepped in the starting lineup, beginning with Notre Dame's 2-1 win over Louisville on Sept. 14, and helped the Fighting Irish go unbeaten in 14 of their final 17 matches while playing all three field positions (forward, midfielder and defender) at various times.
Roccaro also played a pivotal role in her team's postseason success, scoring the match-winning goal for the Fighting Irish in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals against Syracuse (a 1-0 victory on Oct. 28 at Alumni Stadium) and netting the tying goal early in the second half of Notre Dame's 2-1 comeback win over No. 10/12 Wake Forest in an NCAA Championship second-round match on Nov. 16 in Gainesville, Fla.
Thomas became the first Fighting Irish rookie since 2008 (Melissa Henderson) to register double-digit goals, finishing with a team-high 10 goals and two assists while pacing Notre Dame with 25 shots on goal. The talented striker earned second-team all-BIG EAST honors and was a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team after tying for third in the conference in goals and sharing seventh in the loop in points (22). Thomas also was responsible for one of the signature moments in the 2012 Fighting Irish season, scoring the winning goal in the Nov. 16 Wake Forest match with 19:35 remaining.
Andrews, who signed a National Letter of the Intent to attend Notre Dame back in February, is the nation's No. 1-ranked player in the Class of 2013, having twice earned Gatorade National High School Player of the Year honors in 2012 and 2013 (the first soccer player of either gender and ninth student-athlete in any sport to be a two-time recipient of the honor). What's more, Andrews is the leading candidate to be chosen as the Gatorade National Female High School Athlete of the Year, an award that is presented annually at the ESPY Awards (9 pm ET on July 17 from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles) and has been earned by just one incoming Notre Dame student-athlete has earned prior to arriving in South Bend -- women's basketball standout Skylar Diggins in 2009.
Andrews, who currently is spending her summer playing with Boston Aztec of the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL), is a three-time Gatorade New Hampshire High School Player of the Year and three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Youth All-America Team selection, having piled up 114 goals and 53 assists (both school and conference records) during her four-year career at Milford High School.
A two-time NSCAA Oklahoma High School Player of the Year, Little also earned 2012 Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year honors and was a two-time NSCAA High School All-America selection, as well as a two-time Tulsa World All-Metro Player of the Year choice. She recently completed her prep career at Bishop Kelley by leading her team to a 17-0-1 record and its second consecutive Class 6A state championship, logging 11 shutouts along the way.
Little also has just returned from a trip to Colorado last weekend, when she backstopped her club team, TSC Hurricane, to the semifinals of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) U-18 National Championship -- an event won by the Ohio Premier Eagles, which featured her future Notre Dame classmate, midfielder Emily Geyer (Dublin, Ohio/Bishop Watterson).
Naughton, Roccaro and Thomas are among 10 starters and 21 veterans returning for the Fighting Irish this fall. Collectively, this returning group accounted for all 46 goals and 126 of a possible 127 points scored by Notre Dame during the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Andrews and Little lead a stellar incoming freshman class that was ranked third in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer.
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