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Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris Named Gatorade National High School Girls Player of the Year


CHICAGO (February 26, 2004) - U.S. Women's Youth National Team star Ashlyn Harris, who was the youngest player on the USA's 2002 Under-19 World Championship Team, has been named the 2003 Gatorade National High School Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Harris, out of Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Fla., was the starting goalkeeper for the USA at the 2002 U-19 FIFA World Championship
in Canada, and at the age of 16, earned a 109-minute shutout in front of almost 50,000 fans in Edmonton in the USA's 1-0 win in the championship final.  Now a senior, Harris is once again the No. 1 choice for the U.S. U-19s, who will enter qualifying in May for the 2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship, and was also the starter for the U.S. U-21s at the Nordic Cup last summer.

"I'm really honored and ecstatic with the award," said the 5-foot-9 Harris.  "It's just cool because you work so hard for so many different things and it's always nice to get recognized because it lets you know you are on the right track.  But there is so much more out there that I want to accomplish and I'm setting my goals really high and trying to follow them.  I'm getting ready to move onto the next step in my life by going to college and I'm going to continue to dream about playing for the full national team.  I can't wait to continue the journey."

The annual Gatorade National High School Player of the Year honors are awarded by Gatorade® Thirst Quencher in partnership with Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director Magazine. The award, which recognizes athletic achievement as well as the academic performance and overall character of its recipient, distinguishes Harris as the nation's best high school girl's soccer player. The Gatorade National Advisory Board, a group of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country, selected Harris from the more than 300,000 high school girl's soccer players nationwide.

"The compliments I can give Ashlyn are almost countless," said Tracey Leone, the head coach of the USA's U-19 world champions, who is now an assistant coach with the full national team.  "She's really developing into an incredible leader with the U-19s and I think that was the next step in her development.  Every part of her being wants to get entrenched with the U-21s and then the full national team.  She is always working on her game so she's never satisfied.  She has the potential to go all the way to the top."

Harris, who has 24 career caps for the U-19s (including an all-time record of 17-2-1) and three caps for the U-21s, wrapped up her senior season by leading Satellite High School into the semifinals of the Florida Class 5A Girls Soccer Championship before departing to join the U.S. U-19 National Team for a two game tour in Mexico.  In 20 games this year for SHS, Harris recorded 15 shutouts while allowing only eight goals and making 52 saves.  She demonstrated versatility as well, scoring seven goals and adding two assists in limited action as a midfielder.

"She is very athletic, she's really been working on her fitness and has gotten much stronger and more explosive," added Leone.  "She's a very fearless goalkeeper who makes quick decisions and stays with them.  There is not a lot of hesitation in her game.  She is more than capable of making the big save and very consistent in making the saves she should make.  Not only that, but she is outstanding with both feet and that's very rare in a goalkeeper.  She just doesn't have a huge weakness in her game.   She's very good at everything and great at some things."

Harris' achievements in four years at Satellite High School have earned her considerable recognition at both the state and national levels.  She has recorded 50 shutouts in 65 career games and had a career 0.29 GAA.  She is a four-time NSCAA All-America and a three-time PARADE All-America (pending the announcement of this year's team), a four-time selection to the All-Conference, All-District and All-State teams, and has four team MVP awards to her credit.  Her teams reached three consecutive state championship games, winning titles in her sophomore and junior years.

Harris is an honor student with a 3.8 GPA and will attend the University of North Carolina in the fall, where she will join two former Gatorade National Players of the Year in junior Mary McDowell and freshman Heather O'Reilly.

"Ashlyn's accomplishments on the field this season certainly place her among the nation's elite high school athletes," said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Tom Fox. "But her excellence in the classroom and contributions to her school make her a true champion and someone we are proud to call a Gatorade National Player of the Year."

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 girl's soccer include O'Reilly (2002), UCLA's Jill Oakes (2001), McDowell (2000), former BYU and U.S. U-21 star Aleisha Cramer (1999), WUSA First-Round draft pick Christie Welsh (1998) and current U.S. Women's National Team star and No. 1 WUSA draft pick Aly Wagner (1997).
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