The U-20 USWNT has two goalkeepers on its 20-player roster for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Panama: Bryane Heaberlin, who has committed to and already enrolled at UNC (Chapel Hill); and Abby Smith (older rosters may list her as “Abagail”), a high school senior who has officially committed to the University of Texas.
D.O.B. / Age: 2-Nov-1993 / 18.3
College/Club: UNC (enrolled January 2012) (Last Club: Clearwater Chargers, also a semester at IMG Soccer Academy)
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Past YNT Championships: 2010 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 (started 3 matches, zero goals allowed); 2010 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup (1 of 2 spare goalkeepers, no minutes played)
Notables: Garnered national news coverage in 2010 for her hug of Haitian U-17 goalkeeper Alexandra Coby after the US team won 9-0 (NPR story). Fractured her right fibia and tibula in January 2011, was out of action for six months. 3 times NSCAA Girls Youth All-America Team (2009, 2010, 2011).
Quote: “Bryane in goal has the ability to keep us in every game…She’s been our backstop for the last three years and when a player is at her level it affects everything.” — Berkeley Prep coach Ken Roberts (January, 2011)
Starter or Sub: Starter, as primary GK.
Abigail “Abby” Smith
D.O.B. / Age: 4-Oct-1993 / 18.4
College/Club: Dallas Texans ECNL U18 (committed to U. of Texas)
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Past YNT Championships: 2010 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 (1 match)
Notables: 3 times NSCAA Girls Youth All-America Team (2010, 2011).
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Starter or Sub: Sub, but could see playing time in order to rest Heaberlin.
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In the USWNT youth system, Heaberlin has, more or less, been the preferred goalkeeper among her age cohorts. In 2010, she started most of the matches at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship and was named as a back-up goalie on the U-20 USWNT roster for the 2010 FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup. Also, she was in goal for two matches at La Manga, earlier, this month, which is a fairly good indication that Heaberlin will be the primary starter.
Smith could get at least one start, in order to rest Heaberlin, as (1) this tournament is condensed (only one day off during group stage matches), and (2) the tropical climate (average highs in February and March are in the low 90s Fahrenheit, humidity is usually at least 70%). If Smith does start, then it will either be in the second group match versus Cuba, or, the third group versus Mexico. Mexico seems more likely, especially if the USA clinch a spot in the knock-out round after the second group match.
Verdict: The starting goalkeeper is Bryane Heaberlin.
Next Up: Defenders