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U.S. Youth National Team Forward Amy Rodriguez Named Gatorade National High School Player of the Year

CHICAGO (February 24, 2005) – Rising U.S. Women’s National Teams star Amy Rodriguez, who scored two goals and had two assists for the USA’s 2004 Under-19 World Championship Team that finished third in Thailand last November, has been named the 2004 Gatorade National High School Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Gatorade® Thirst Quencher, in partnership with Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director magazine, made the announcement earlier today.

Rodriguez, who attends Rancho Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. and plays her club soccer for the Laguna Hills Eclipse, started five of the six matches for the USA in Thailand. She scored against South Korea and Australia, while also assisting on goals against South Korea and Russia.

“It has been a crazy year, but I’ve had so much fun,” said Rodriguez. “I want to thank Gatorade for choosing me because I know there are so many talented girls out there all over the country. One of my main goals is just to keep working hard so I can take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that have been given to me recently. I want to continue to build as a player because I know there are so many areas I can improve. I’ve gotten great support from family, friends, teammates and coaches and every time I go out on the field, I take a little bit of them with me.”

The award, which recognizes athletic achievement as well as the academic performance and overall character of its recipient, distinguishes Rodriguez as the nation’s best high school girls’ soccer player. The Gatorade National Advisory Board, a group of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country, selected Rodriguez from the more than 300,000 female high school soccer players nationwide. Rodriguez is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award, to be presented at an awards ceremony the afternoon prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

Rodriguez, an explosive and dynamic attacking player who one year ago was playing with the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team, has experienced a whirlwind year. She made the roster for the U.S. U-19 World Championship squad without ever playing an international match at that level, and then scored in her first game in Thailand. She recently attended her first U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team camp and got her first call-up to the senior level last week. She will travel to Portugal on March 1 with the full Women’s National Team for the prestigious Algarve Cup. The youngest player on the Algarve Cup roster, she will join former Gatorade National Girls Soccer Players of the Year Aly Wagner, Christie Welsh, Jill Oakes and Heather O’Reilly in Portugal.

This season the 5-foot-3 Rodriguez, also known as “A-Rod,” has led Santa Margarita to a 16-3-2 record with 11 goals and eight assists. Last year, Rodriguez was an All-League and All-State selection, and has been named to the PARADE and NSCAA All-American teams in each of the past two seasons.

In the classroom, Rodriguez maintains a 3.4 GPA. She has participated in the Model United Nations program and the Santa Margarita High Theater, and enjoys wakeboarding and camping in her spare time. Rodriguez will attend the University of Southern California in the fall.

The Gatorade High School Player of the Year program recognizes one winner in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and awards one National Player of the Year in football, baseball, softball, volleyball, and boys and girls basketball, soccer, and track & field. Previous national winners in girls soccer include O’Reilly (2002), UCLA’s Oakes (2001), UNC’s Rebecca McDowell (2000), former BYU and U.S. U-21 star Aleisha Cramer (1999), and current U.S. Women’s National Team players Christie Welsh (1998) and Aly Wagner (1997).  Ashlyn Harris, the starting ‘keeper on the last two U.S. U-19 world championship squads, won in 2003.