College Experience Bodes Well for U.S. U19 Women in Win over Navy


Duke freshman Maddie Jenner, a top draw specialist for the U.S. under-19 women's team, stood out to Navy coach Cindy Timchal. Jenner had 12 draw controls in Team USA's 18-11 victory.


SPARKS, Md. — When Navy went on a five-goal run in the third quarter to cut the lead to just one for the U.S. under-19 women’s national team, a quick transition play led to a momentum-shifting goal from Team USA midfielder Elle Hansen, who is currently a freshman at Northwestern.

The U.S. U19 team then shut out the Midshipmen 5-0 in the final period to secure an 18-11 victory Sunday on Tierney Field during the Team USA Fall Classic.

Hansen is one of 17 current college freshmen on Team USA’s roster, which also features three college sophomores – defenders Ally Palermo (Northwestern), Alexandra Murphy (UMass) and Shannon Boyle (Hofstra).

“They bring far more experience, already having played a month of fall ball that we were challenged,” Navy coach Cindy Timchal said.

It’s the first U.S. U19 team with current collegians, which has “absolutely” benefitted Team USA, said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. FIL rules require players to be at least 15 years old at the start of the 2019 FIL Under-19 Women’s World Championship (July 31, 2019) and no older than 18 years old as of Aug. 31, 2018.

“Just the difference from the tryout to the kids that are in college right now, you can see the experience,” Amonte Hiller said. “Then the high school players, they started off at a certain level and now they’re really starting to bring up their game too. Once you get in this competitive environment, you’re forced to bring your game up, and they’re all doing that, so it’s pretty exciting.”

With more than half of Team USA having some college experience, the 10 high school seniors and six high school juniors were quick to follow their cues.

Madison Ahern, a senior at Notre Dame Academy (Mass.), led the U.S. U19 team with four points. She tied Isabelle Smith (Westhampton Beach ’20), Jane Hansen (Cohasset ’19), Katie DeSimone (St. Anthony’s ’20) and Elle Hansen (Northwestern ’22) for a team-high two scores.

But the one player that caught Timchal’s eye was Duke freshman Maddie Jenner, who recorded a team-best 12 draw controls.

“One of our freshmen, Reagan [Roelofs] did a great job on the draws,” Timchal said. “[But] they have a really exceptional [draw specialist], one of many, but one that stood out is No. 14 Jenner, who is at Duke. We had our hands full there.”

It was a fairly even battle in the midfield, with Team USA earning a 17-16 advantage on the draw, which continues to be a main focus for Amonte Hiller since tryouts. But the wealth of scorers against Navy – 13 recorded goals and 16 tallied at least one point – shone most.

“If you look at the stat sheet, across the board, the scoring is just distributed so well,” Amonte Hiller said. “That’s a sign of a good team and a good game.”

That’s much in part thanks to her coaching staff with its Northwestern connections, allowing them to be “already in sync, so that’s made a huge difference,” she said.

Now, it’s time to focus on the players.

“It’s hard I think at the U.S. level because everyone is coming in being the top players in the country and you really want to play as a team and you want to mesh well as a team,” Amonte Hiller said. “That, I hope, in the end is our defining characteristic.”

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