Photo credits: Linda Cuttone (left), US Soccer (right)
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
January 21, 2014-A young woman who grew up a short corner kick from the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) office in Rockville Centre was selected first overall at the National Women’s Soccer League Draft last Friday in Philadelphia. The Washington Spirit selected Crystal Dunn to vastly improve on their last place finish in 2013.
Crystal spent her formative years in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), playing for the Rockville Centre Power, Rockville Centre Tornadoes and Albertson Fury ‘91. Crystal also developed her wonderful skills with Eastern New York’s Olympic Development Program, competing in ODP for six years, and used it as a springboard to represent the USA internationally.
“Crystal has a genuine love for the game and a true desire to be the very best,” commented Tim Bradbury, who coached her in Rockville Centre and who is now Eastern New York’s Director of Coaching Instruction. “She was the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. Now when she comes home to Rockville Centre, she often plays against some of the boys teams I train.”
“Crystal has really adapted her game to become a world-class defender,” added Paul Riley, her coach at Albertson who now coaches the NWSL defending champion Portland Thorns, “She has speed, great one-on-one ability and the poise to make the final ball count.”
The 21-year-old earned eight caps for the United States Women's National Team in 2013 as a defensive player. She helped lead the USA to the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup title in Japan, playing every minute of all six matches.
As a junior at the University of North Carolina, she won the Hermann Trophy as college soccer's best player, scoring five goals, in leading the Tar Heels to the 2012 NCAA championship. The versatile Crystal was named the 2010 and 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year plus the 2013 ACC Offensive Player of the Year while scoring 14 goals. She was the first player to be honored as ACC Player of the Year three times since Mia Hamm a generation ago, who also played for the University of North Carolina and the Spirit's predecessor, the Washington Freedom.
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.