CHULA VISTA, California, - Hailing from little ole Chugiak, Alaska, Kelly Cobb found herself on the field against the likes of the U20 Japan Women’s National Team on Wednesday.
Sometimes, she can’t believe it herself. And though Cobb was far from Chugiak in both distance and stage, she was right at home.
Cobb thrived with her U.S. U20 Women’s National Team teammates, as she has repeatedly during her extensive youth national team career, scoring once and threatening often during a 2-1 U.S. victory at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
In the first of two matches they’ll play against Japan this week, the U20 team got off to a harmonious start. The offense was aggressive and precise, creating plenty of opportunities with much of the same core that recently spent time together in Spain at the Ten Nations Tournament – Cobb, Mollie Pathman, Morgan Brian, Katie Stengel and Lindsay Elston, etc.
Cobb got the squad on the scoreboard within the first ten minutes, using her strong base to make a turn and fire without so much as a couple touches.
Brian, also shined early. She’s so poised on the ball that she sometimes dribbled around Japan’s defenders until she found the right play. She scored the second goal, after the game had been tied up, on a nice left-footed strike.
Stengel was a nice big presence up top that provided a good target for the midfielders.
Japan got its goal on a U.S. turnover; a lazy pass that allowed a Japanese midfielder to make a quick and unimpeded run at goalkeeper Abby Smith.
The match was split into three thirds, with the U.S. certainly looking its best – and scoring all of its goals – in the first.
“As the game wore on, (Japan) gained confidence and possession,” said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. “They started to expose our midfield shape and how close our backline was to the ball, and they got behind us a couple times. Those are things we can fix.”
The U.S. side substituted its entire midfield during the second third and Japan started dominating the possessions. The change in momentum put the U.S. defense – along with ever vocal keeper Smith - to the test.
Abby Dahlkemper continually worked hard and center back Kori Chapic has some stand out ability. Chapic is very strong and athletic and was a lot to deal with for a Japan side already giving away a lot in physical strength.
U.S. striker Maya Hayes came on late and made a couple of good runs by using her superior speed. She hit the post on a good look at a goal but could not convert.
For Cobb, the tall and steady striker from Alaska, it was yet another opportunity to leave her mark in a competitive setting she loves.
“It’s a huge difference coming here (from playing in Alaska). I always have to prepare on my own when I get the invite a month in advance,” said Cobb, who is heading to Duke next year. “But I love it. I want to pave the way for other Alaskan girls, and inspire them and show them that playing on this level is possible.
“(Youth National Team and Wisconsin player) Alev Kelter was an inspiration for me, and now I hope to be one for other girls.”
U.S. U20 WNT Camp Roster
DEFENDERS (6): Kori Chapic (Cleveland Cobras; Russell, Ohio), Abby Dahlkemper (MVLA Avalanche; Menlo Park, Calif.), Arin Gilliland (Kentucky; Wilmore, Ky.), Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Megan Oyster (Windy City Pride; Naperville, Ill.), Dominique Richardson (Missouri; Fullerton, Calif.), Catie Sessions (Wisconsin; Woodbury, Minn.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Ponte Vedra Storm; St. Simons Island, Ga.), Lindsey Bos (Washington; Snohomish, Wash.), Kaysie Clark (KC Select Scream; Liberty, Mo.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Lindsay Elston (Washington; Sammamish, Wash.), Sarah Killion (Fort Wayne Fever; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Samantha Mewis (Scorpions SC; Hanson, Mass.)
FORWARDS (7): Kelly Cobb (Cook Inlet Velocity; Chugiak, Alaska), Jamia Fields (Florida State; Alta Loma, Calif.), Maya Hayes (Penn State; West Orange, N.J.), Stephanie McCaffrey (FC Stars of Mass.; Winchester, Mass.), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina; Draper, Utah), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durhham, N.C.), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.)
U.S. U18 WNT Camp Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bryane Heaberlin (Clear Water Chargers; Tampa, Fla.), Katelyn Rowland (San Juan; Vacaville, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (8): Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast; Pleasanton, Calif.), Jaelene Hinkle (Real Colorado; Denver, Colo.), Ashley Meier (Cleveland Whitecaps; Strongsville, Ohio), Katie Naughton (Sockers FC; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Taylor Ramirez (Orange Soccer Club; Anaheim, Calif.), Cari Roccaro (Albertson Fury; East Islip, N.Y.), Taylor Schneider (Dallas Texans; Southlake, Texas), Brittany Von Rueden (FC Milwaukee Nationals; Mequon, Wis.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Caroline Lindquist (Spartan Elite; Raleigh, N.C.), Indiana Mead (Neusport FC; Boulder City, Nev.), Cassie Pecht (FC Pennsylvania Strikers; Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Emily Sonnett (NASA, Marietta, Ga.), Quynh Truong (Solar Red; Fort Worth, Texas), Hayley Washburn (San Juan Spirits; Folsom, Calif.), Danielle Weatherholt (So Cal Blues; Capistrano Beach, Calif.)
FORWARDS (7): Sophie Groff (Dallas Texans; Grapevine, Texas), Shea Groom (KCFC Intensity; Liberty, Mo.), Lindsey Horan (Colorado Rush; Golden, Colo.), Kristiana Konkol-Mroczokowski (Real So Cal; Malibu, Calif.), Anna McClung (GSA Phoenix; Gate City, Va.), Kate Speidel (Real So Cal; Oak Park, Calif.), Kaili Torres (Ponte Vedra; Fleming Island, Fla.)