U.S. Soccer

USA Loses Hard-Fought Game 2-1 to Ghana at 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup

AMMAN, Jordan (Oct. 4, 2016) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team lost 2-1 to Ghana at King Abdullah II International Stadium in its second Group D game of the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

Frankie Tagliaferri gave the USA an early lead in just the fifth minute on a hot afternoon as the U.S. began the game with verve and intensity. After the USA scored, Ghana became the aggressor for much of the final 80 minutes, putting the USA under heavy defensive pressure and winning the lion’s share of 50/50 balls which served to stifle the U.S. attack.

Gifty Acheampong eventually converted on a header for Ghana in the 63rd minute to tie the match. The goal combined with a pair of U.S. substitutions jolted the USA back into the match and captain Ashley Sanchez nearly gave the young Americans the lead once again with a stinging drive that deflected high off the center of Ghana’s crossbar. Ghana goalkeeper Kayza Massey lost sight of the ball as it fell back into the field of play near her right post where it bounced off the turf, hit the underside of the bar and then back down onto the goal line before Massey was able to claw it away from danger.

The USA carved out a number of other quality chances through substitute Sophia Smith, but it was Ghana’s captain Sandra Owusu-Ansah who decided the match by converting a penalty kick in the 84th minute after the USA was whistled for a handball in the box.

The USA (1-1-0; 3pts) and Ghana (1-1-0; 3pts) are now tied in the Group D standings with the U.S. edging in front based on a superior +4 goal differential compared to Ghana’s -4. Japan (1-0-0; 3pts) and Paraguay (0-1-0; 0pts) play later in the day. No matter the outcome of that game, the U.S. now needs a result against Japan in the final Group D match on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Amman International Stadium (11:55 a.m. ET; FS2, NBC Universo).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Frankie Tagliaferri (Civana Kuhlmann), 5th minute:
After dominating the first five minutes, the USA got on the board early after winning a long ball. The ball was played to Kuhlmann, who then played a first-time pass to Tagliaferri to put her behind the Ghana defense. Tagliaferri raced in on goal and calmly rolled her shot just inside the left post from 10 yards out. USA 1, GHA 0

GHA – Gifty Acheampong ( Adizatu Mustapha ), 63rd minute: Ghana worked the ball down the center of the field and eventually out wide to Adizatu Mustapha, who lofted a cross to the back post. The ball floated just over the fingertips of USA goalkeeper Laurel Ivory and right onto the head of Acheampong, who redirected it into the vacated net to tie the match. USA 1, GHA 1

GHA – Sandra Owusu-Ansah (penalty kick), 84th minute: Ghana again attacked down the right wing, but this time Mustapha’s cross hit U.S. defender Kiara Pickett in the left hand as she slid in an attempt to block the ball. Referee Laura Fortunato whistled for a penalty kick and Owusu-Ansah took a long run-up before barley tucking a hard shot past Ivory, who had guessed the direction correctly, into the lower right corner.
USA 1, GHA 2 [HIGHLIGHTS] FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT will close Group D play of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup vs. Japan on Oct. 8 (11:55 a.m. ET; FS2, NBC Universo) at Amman International Stadium in Amman, Jordan. Click here for the full tournament schedule.
Social:
Facebook ; Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Instagram;

Additional Notes:

  • The match marked the first loss in an international match for this team during this cycle. The USA is 13-1-2 in 2016, having scored 48 goals while allowing 13.
  • Frankie Tagliaferri scored her 11th goal in 26 U-17 caps.
  • This was the first World Cup cap in the international careers of Kennedy Wesley and Isabel Rodriguez.
  • The USA made all three allowed subs in the game as Sophie Smith came on for Tagliaferri in the 56th minute, Kennedy Wesley came on for Kate Wiesner in the 57th minute and Isabel Rodriguez replaced Kiara Pickett in the 85th.

- U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team vs. Ghana U-17 Women’s National Team
Date:
Oct. 4, 2016
Competition:
2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group D
Venue:
King Abdullah II International Stadium; Amman, Jordan
Kickoff:
9 a.m. ET
Attendance:
2,000
Weather:
88 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 0 1
PAR                         0 2 2

USA – Frankie Tagliaferri (Civana Kuhlmann)      5th minute
GHA – Gifty Acheampong (Adizatu Mustapha)   63
GHA – Sandra Owusu-Ansah (penalty kick)       84

Lineups:
USA
: 1-Laurel Ivory; 9-Kiara Pickett (13-Isabel Rodriguez, 85), 5-Karina Rodriguez, 4-Naomi Girma, 11-Kate Wiesner (15-Kennedy Wesley, 57); 7-Alex Spaanstra, 18-Jaelin Howell, 20-Frankie Tagliaferri (3-Sophia Smith, 56), 8-Briana Pinto, 10-Ashley Sanchez (capt.); 14-Civana Kuhlmann
Subs Not Used: 2-Jordan Canniff, 6-Emily Smith, 12-Meagan McClelland, 16-Sydney Zandi,
17-Lia Godfrey, 19-Adrienne Richardson, 21-Hillary Beall

Head Coach: B.J. Snow

GHA : 1-Kayza Massey; 4-Uwaisa Mawia, 12-Cecilia Hagan, 14-Philicity Asuako, 18-Blessing Agbomadzi; 6-Grace Asantewaa, 9-Gifty Acheampong, 17-Fuseina Mumuni; 7-Rafia Kulchirie, 10-Sandra Owusu-Ansah (capt.), 15-Adizatu Mustapha (20-Konadu Adjei, 86)
Subs Not Used: 2-Joyce Asamoah, 3-Nina Norshie, 5-Linda Amoako, 8-Grace Acheampong, 11-Mary Entoah, 13-Olivia Anokye, 16-Barikisu Issahaku, 19-Sylvian Amankwah, 21-Selina Amusilie
Head Coach: Evans Adotey

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 11 / 24
Shots on Goal: 5 / 10
Saves: 8 / 4
Corner Kicks: 5 / 6
Fouls: 13 / 14
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
GHA – Cecilia Hagan (caution)                18th minute
GHA – Grace Asantewaa (caution)           42
GHA – Kayza Massey (caution)               80
GHA – Uwaisa Mawia (caution)                81
USA – Sophia Smith (caution)                 90+4

Officials:
Referee: Laura Fortunato (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Daiana Milone (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Leslie Vasquez (CHI)
4th Official: Mirian Leon (SLV)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Laurel Ivory

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U-17 WNT Oct 4, 2016

- U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team vs. Ghana U-17 Women’s National Team
Date:
Oct. 4, 2016
Competition:
2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group D
Venue:
King Abdullah II International Stadium; Amman, Jordan
Kickoff:
9 a.m. ET
Attendance:
2,000
Weather:
88 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 0 1
PAR                         0 2 2

USA – Frankie Tagliaferri (Civana Kuhlmann)      5th minute
GHA – Gifty Acheampong (Adizatu Mustapha)   63
GHA – Sandra Owusu-Ansah (penalty kick)       84

Lineups:
USA
: 1-Laurel Ivory; 9-Kiara Pickett (13-Isabel Rodriguez, 85), 5-Karina Rodriguez, 4-Naomi Girma, 11-Kate Wiesner (15-Kennedy Wesley, 57); 7-Alex Spaanstra, 18-Jaelin Howell, 20-Frankie Tagliaferri (3-Sophia Smith, 56), 8-Briana Pinto, 10-Ashley Sanchez (capt.); 14-Civana Kuhlmann
Subs Not Used: 2-Jordan Canniff, 6-Emily Smith, 12-Meagan McClelland, 16-Sydney Zandi,
17-Lia Godfrey, 19-Adrienne Richardson, 21-Hillary Beall

Head Coach: B.J. Snow

GHA : 1-Kayza Massey; 4-Uwaisa Mawia, 12-Cecilia Hagan, 14-Philicity Asuako, 18-Blessing Agbomadzi; 6-Grace Asantewaa, 9-Gifty Acheampong, 17-Fuseina Mumuni; 7-Rafia Kulchirie, 10-Sandra Owusu-Ansah (capt.), 15-Adizatu Mustapha (20-Konadu Adjei, 86)
Subs Not Used: 2-Joyce Asamoah, 3-Nina Norshie, 5-Linda Amoako, 8-Grace Acheampong, 11-Mary Entoah, 13-Olivia Anokye, 16-Barikisu Issahaku, 19-Sylvian Amankwah, 21-Selina Amusilie
Head Coach: Evans Adotey

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 11 / 24
Shots on Goal: 5 / 10
Saves: 8 / 4
Corner Kicks: 5 / 6
Fouls: 13 / 14
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
GHA – Cecilia Hagan (caution)                18th minute
GHA – Grace Asantewaa (caution)           42
GHA – Kayza Massey (caution)               80
GHA – Uwaisa Mawia (caution)                81
USA – Sophia Smith (caution)                 90+4

Officials:
Referee: Laura Fortunato (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Daiana Milone (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Leslie Vasquez (CHI)
4th Official: Mirian Leon (SLV)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Laurel Ivory

USA Loses Hard-Fought Game 2-1 to Ghana at 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup

AMMAN, Jordan (Oct. 4, 2016) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team lost 2-1 to Ghana at King Abdullah II International Stadium in its second Group D game of the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

Frankie Tagliaferri gave the USA an early lead in just the fifth minute on a hot afternoon as the U.S. began the game with verve and intensity. After the USA scored, Ghana became the aggressor for much of the final 80 minutes, putting the USA under heavy defensive pressure and winning the lion’s share of 50/50 balls which served to stifle the U.S. attack.

Gifty Acheampong eventually converted on a header for Ghana in the 63rd minute to tie the match. The goal combined with a pair of U.S. substitutions jolted the USA back into the match and captain Ashley Sanchez nearly gave the young Americans the lead once again with a stinging drive that deflected high off the center of Ghana’s crossbar. Ghana goalkeeper Kayza Massey lost sight of the ball as it fell back into the field of play near her right post where it bounced off the turf, hit the underside of the bar and then back down onto the goal line before Massey was able to claw it away from danger.

The USA carved out a number of other quality chances through substitute Sophia Smith, but it was Ghana’s captain Sandra Owusu-Ansah who decided the match by converting a penalty kick in the 84th minute after the USA was whistled for a handball in the box.

The USA (1-1-0; 3pts) and Ghana (1-1-0; 3pts) are now tied in the Group D standings with the U.S. edging in front based on a superior +4 goal differential compared to Ghana’s -4. Japan (1-0-0; 3pts) and Paraguay (0-1-0; 0pts) play later in the day. No matter the outcome of that game, the U.S. now needs a result against Japan in the final Group D match on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Amman International Stadium (11:55 a.m. ET; FS2, NBC Universo).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Frankie Tagliaferri (Civana Kuhlmann), 5th minute:
After dominating the first five minutes, the USA got on the board early after winning a long ball. The ball was played to Kuhlmann, who then played a first-time pass to Tagliaferri to put her behind the Ghana defense. Tagliaferri raced in on goal and calmly rolled her shot just inside the left post from 10 yards out. USA 1, GHA 0

GHA – Gifty Acheampong ( Adizatu Mustapha ), 63rd minute: Ghana worked the ball down the center of the field and eventually out wide to Adizatu Mustapha, who lofted a cross to the back post. The ball floated just over the fingertips of USA goalkeeper Laurel Ivory and right onto the head of Acheampong, who redirected it into the vacated net to tie the match. USA 1, GHA 1

GHA – Sandra Owusu-Ansah (penalty kick), 84th minute: Ghana again attacked down the right wing, but this time Mustapha’s cross hit U.S. defender Kiara Pickett in the left hand as she slid in an attempt to block the ball. Referee Laura Fortunato whistled for a penalty kick and Owusu-Ansah took a long run-up before barley tucking a hard shot past Ivory, who had guessed the direction correctly, into the lower right corner.
USA 1, GHA 2 [HIGHLIGHTS] FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT will close Group D play of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup vs. Japan on Oct. 8 (11:55 a.m. ET; FS2, NBC Universo) at Amman International Stadium in Amman, Jordan. Click here for the full tournament schedule.
Social:
Facebook ; Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Instagram;

Additional Notes:

  • The match marked the first loss in an international match for this team during this cycle. The USA is 13-1-2 in 2016, having scored 48 goals while allowing 13.
  • Frankie Tagliaferri scored her 11th goal in 26 U-17 caps.
  • This was the first World Cup cap in the international careers of Kennedy Wesley and Isabel Rodriguez.
  • The USA made all three allowed subs in the game as Sophie Smith came on for Tagliaferri in the 56th minute, Kennedy Wesley came on for Kate Wiesner in the 57th minute and Isabel Rodriguez replaced Kiara Pickett in the 85th.

- U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team vs. Ghana U-17 Women’s National Team
Date:
Oct. 4, 2016
Competition:
2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group D
Venue:
King Abdullah II International Stadium; Amman, Jordan
Kickoff:
9 a.m. ET
Attendance:
2,000
Weather:
88 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 0 1
PAR                         0 2 2

USA – Frankie Tagliaferri (Civana Kuhlmann)      5th minute
GHA – Gifty Acheampong (Adizatu Mustapha)   63
GHA – Sandra Owusu-Ansah (penalty kick)       84

Lineups:
USA
: 1-Laurel Ivory; 9-Kiara Pickett (13-Isabel Rodriguez, 85), 5-Karina Rodriguez, 4-Naomi Girma, 11-Kate Wiesner (15-Kennedy Wesley, 57); 7-Alex Spaanstra, 18-Jaelin Howell, 20-Frankie Tagliaferri (3-Sophia Smith, 56), 8-Briana Pinto, 10-Ashley Sanchez (capt.); 14-Civana Kuhlmann
Subs Not Used: 2-Jordan Canniff, 6-Emily Smith, 12-Meagan McClelland, 16-Sydney Zandi,
17-Lia Godfrey, 19-Adrienne Richardson, 21-Hillary Beall

Head Coach: B.J. Snow

GHA : 1-Kayza Massey; 4-Uwaisa Mawia, 12-Cecilia Hagan, 14-Philicity Asuako, 18-Blessing Agbomadzi; 6-Grace Asantewaa, 9-Gifty Acheampong, 17-Fuseina Mumuni; 7-Rafia Kulchirie, 10-Sandra Owusu-Ansah (capt.), 15-Adizatu Mustapha (20-Konadu Adjei, 86)
Subs Not Used: 2-Joyce Asamoah, 3-Nina Norshie, 5-Linda Amoako, 8-Grace Acheampong, 11-Mary Entoah, 13-Olivia Anokye, 16-Barikisu Issahaku, 19-Sylvian Amankwah, 21-Selina Amusilie
Head Coach: Evans Adotey

Stats Summary: USA / GHA
Shots: 11 / 24
Shots on Goal: 5 / 10
Saves: 8 / 4
Corner Kicks: 5 / 6
Fouls: 13 / 14
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
GHA – Cecilia Hagan (caution)                18th minute
GHA – Grace Asantewaa (caution)           42
GHA – Kayza Massey (caution)               80
GHA – Uwaisa Mawia (caution)                81
USA – Sophia Smith (caution)                 90+4

Officials:
Referee: Laura Fortunato (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Daiana Milone (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Leslie Vasquez (CHI)
4th Official: Mirian Leon (SLV)

ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Laurel Ivory

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U-17 WNT Oct 4, 2016

USA Continues Group D Play at U-17 Women's World Cup vs. Ghana | Tuesday, 9am ET

The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team will resume play at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup on Oct. 4 against Ghana at King Abdullah II International Stadium in Amman, Jordan. The match will air live on FS2 starting at 8:55 a.m. ET and fans can also watch on FOX Sports GO app, FOXSportsGo.com and FOXSoccer2GO.com (Free Code: U17WNT). Fans can also follow all the matches of the U.S. U-17 WNT on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt. For full coverage, visit the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup tournament page on ussoccer.com. These are the first matches by any U.S. Women’s National Team in Jordan and the first matches by any U.S. Women’s National Team in the Middle East.

U.S. U-17 Women’s World Cup Team Roster by Position - DETAILED | MEET THE TEAM
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Hillary Beall (So Cal Blues; Laguna Beach, Calif.), 1-Laurel Ivory (West Florida Flames; Surfside Fla.), 12-Meagan McClelland (PDA; Kearny, N.J.)                        

DEFENDERS (7): 4-Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), 9-Kiara Pickett (Eagles; Santa Barbara, Calif.), 13-Isabel Rodriguez (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), 5-Karina Rodriguez (So Cal Blues; Torrance, Calif.) 6-Emily Smith (De Anza Force; Los Gatos, Calif.), 15-Kennedy Wesley (So Cal Blues; Rossmoor, Calif.), 11-Kate Wiesner (Slammers FC; Monrovia, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (7): 2-Jordan Canniff (Richmond United; California, Md.), 17-Lia Godfrey (Jacksonville Armada; Fleming Island, Fla.), 18-Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), 8-Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), 7-Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.), 20-Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA; Colts Neck, N.J.), 16-Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion; West Chester, Penn.)

FORWARDS (4): 14-Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), 19-Adrienne Richardson (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Oakdale, Minn.), 10-Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), 3-Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.)   

STORYLINES:
U-17 WNT vs. Ghana:
The USA and Ghana have never met in a U-17 Women’s World Cup, but the USA has met Ghana twice before in a U-20 Women’s World Cup, opening against Ghana in the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan (a 4-0 U.S. win) and at the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany (1-1 draw). The U.S. women have never played Ghana at the senior level.

Ghana at the U-17 WWC: Ghana, like Nigeria, has qualified for every FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to date and is 8-7-2 all time in the tournament. Ghana went out after group play in 2008 and 2010, but in Azerbaijan in 2012, the Black Maidens had a big breakthrough, becoming the first African team to reach the semifinals where they lost to eventual winners France before claiming third place with a 1-0 win over Germany. Ghana also made it to the knockout rounds two years ago in Costa Rica, having topped a formidable group that also featured the Germany, Canada and Korea DPR. They suffered a heart-breaking exit in the quarterfinals, going out on penalties to Italy after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Less Than Ideal Start: Ghana is coming off a 5-0 loss to Japan in their 2016 FIFA U17 Women's World Cup opening match. The Japanese scored four goals within the first 27 minutes. Forward Riko Ueki opened the scoring in the 7th minute before Jun Endo added the second goal in the 11th minute. Endo also the third goal and Saori Takarada tallied 27th minute to make the halftime score 4-0 in favor of the defending champions. Ghana had a stronger second half, creating some scoring chances, but could not penetrate the Japan defense and gave up a fifth goal towards the end of the game to Remina Chiba.

Kuhlmann, Tagliaferri and Sanchez: The U.S. U-17s have scored 47 goals in 2016 and three players have combined for more than half of them. Forward Civana Kuhlmann leads the USA in goals this year with 13, while U-17 captain Ashley Sanchez and Frankie Tagliaferri have eight each. In addition to these three, 10 other players have scored for the USA. Kuhlmann has a total of 15 goals in 18 total U-17 caps, while Sanchez continues her goal per game average, netting 19 goals in 19 U-17 appearances. Kuhlmann’s hat trick against Paraguay on Oct. 1 was the first by a U.S. player in a U-17 WWC, but the fourth by a U.S. player in a youth Women’s World Cup. Sydney Leroux scored three times against Switzerland at the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany; Maya Hayes had a hat trick against Ghana at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan; and Kelly Wilson scored three goals against Denmark at the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Championship. This U-17 cycle is the second for Kuhlmann and Tagliaferri as they were also a part of the U.S. team that failed to qualify for this tournament two years ago in Jamaica despite out-scoring the opposition 24-1 in the tournament. The USA fell in penalty kicks to Mexico in the semifinal after drawing 1-1 in regulation during a cycle in which just two CONCACAF teams qualified due to the tournament being held in Costa Rica.

U.S. Roster Breakdown: Lia Godfrey is the youngest player with a November of 2001 birthday while Tagliaferri is the oldest, having been born on Jan. 18, 1999. Fifteen different youth clubs from nine states are represented on the roster with the So Cal Blues out of Southern California having four players on the roster. Real Colorado, the Michigan Hawks and PDA out of New Jersey have two players each. The roster includes eight players from California (six from Southern, two from Northern), three players from Colorado and two each from Michigan, Florida and New Jersey. U-17 WNT head coach B.J. Snow selected two high school freshman (Canniff and Godfrey), two sophomores (Wiesner and Wesley), six juniors (Ivory, Sophie Smith, Girma, Pinto, McClelland and Howell), and 10 seniors (Karina Rodriguez, Emily Smith, Pickett, Sanchez, Isabel Rodriguez, Kuhlmann, Zandi, Richardson, Tagliaferri and Beall).

ON USSOCCER.COM

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U-17 WNT Oct 3, 2016

Jordan in Jordan

U-17 WNT Oct 3, 2016

U-17 WNT’s Kiara Pickett: Channeling Her Inner Dragon Warrior

From the Santa Barbara Soccer Club to the Eagles Soccer Club to the U.S. 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Team, Kiara Picket has always been the smallest player on her soccer teams.

Listed at 5-foot-1, she’s one of the few people you’ll meet who will round that number down. That’s because she’s entirely comfortable with her size.

“Yeah, I’m probably closer to five,” she admitted, flashing an infectious smile and exuding her characteristic zest for life. “But great things come in small packages!”

The daughter of an African-American father who grew up in the South Bronx and a mother who was born in Guerrero, Mexico, she’s a combination of New York brashness and Latin flair.

What she lacks in inches she makes up for with large helpings of mental toughness, speed, strength and personality, and the right back, who tackles far above her weight class, is sure to be a fan favorite as the U.S. plays in this historic World Cup.

Kiara Pickett is listed at 5'1'' but her play on the field proves that height is nothing but a number

“When I’m on the field playing, I don’t feel like I’m small, I feel like I’m seven-foot-tall,” said Pickett. “Until I see the pictures from the game, then I’m, ‘oh yeah, I forgot. I’m sort of small.’ But my motto is ‘remember me,’ so I am going to do everything I can do to try to be remembered, and if you’re one of the smallest players on the team, you have to be aggressive to be noticed.”

That was first honed in the public parks of idyllic Santa Barbara, California, where she grew up, playing just for the love of the game and kicking the ball around with her cousins.

“Over the years, I learned how to use my body, my low center of gravity and my speed to get into the best positions,” said Pickett.

If there’s a ball to be won during a match, Pickett thinks she’s going to be the one to win it.

Her philosophy on 50/50 balls: “That’s my ball.”

What if it’s 40/60? “Still my ball.”

Even 30/70? “Well, I’m going to make it hard for you to get the ball.”

“I take pride in my heading even though I’m small,” she said. “I feel like players don’t expect me to win headers so if I can, that’s more intimidating for an opponent. Even if I can’t get to the ball, I’ll try to use my body and make sure they don’t get it.”

She has also shown that she can use her qualities to get forward and contribute to the attack, as she did in the USA’s World Cup opener on Oct. 1 against Paraguay. She set up the USA’s second goal in the 6-1 win with a beautiful run down the right flank before nutmegging a closing defender with her first touch. She then sent a perfect cross to Civana Kuhlmann. Pickett scored the USA’s fifth goal after getting into the penalty area and running on a cross from Ashley Sanchez, sparking a wild celebration amongst her and her teammates.

Pickett celebrates her first international goal at the U-17 WWC with her teammates || FIFA/Getty Images

Pickett spent a good chunk of 2015 with the Under-20 Women’s National Team, attending four camps and earning a roster spot for the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship in Honduras. Unfortunately, she got hurt in the first match and had to watch from the bench as the USA earned a berth to the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup and won the regional title, but it turned out to be a learning experience nonetheless.

“Of course I wanted to play, but I think it was a blessing in disguise,” said Pickett. “I got to experience the tournament as a fan and take a step back to soak it all in. I looked at it as an overall experience to learn.”

Known as Kiki to all her teammates (“Kiara is for school, Kiki is for soccer and Ki is for my family,” she says), Pickett used that experience when she returned to the U-17 WNT to earn her roster spot for the World Cup. She has become one of the team leaders.

“We’ve learned that you don’t need to wear the armband to be a leader,” said Pickett. “We have a lot of leaders on this team, and each person has their own specific role and way in which they lead. I think I’m more of the Momma Bear. I make sure everyone is doing everything correctly and responsibly to hold each person accountable. It’s a hard thing to do, because we’re not as experienced as older players and we may not even know what the right things to do are. We look to our really great staff for guidance, but sometimes we have to figure out the solutions on our own.”

And figuring out a way to get things done is what Pickett is all about. Her competitive nature would tolerate nothing less.

“Everything I do is competitive,” she said. “Even at school. You got a better grade than me? I’m going to get a better grade than you. You’re at the front of line? I want to be at the front of the line. Dance party during lunch? I’m going to go all out.”

As excelling seems to be in her DNA, it’s no surprise that the Dos Pueblos High School senior will attend Stanford next fall. To hear her tell it, she’s also got some panda bear in her DNA.

Pickett is a big fan of the Kung Fu Panda movies. All three of them. She figures she watches the three animated films at least 10 times a year combined.

She identifies with Po, the panda protagonist who initially did not have confidence in himself but came to learn that the ability to be the Dragon Warrior was always inside of him and that he was capable of being the Protector of the Valley.

“Everything comes from within,” said Pickett. “Po just needed someone to believe in him.” Ever since she started playing soccer, she’s given reason for her coaches to believe in her, and now she’s the Protector of the USA’s Right Side. 

Up in the Jade Palace, Master Shifu would be proud.


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U-17 WNT Oct 2, 2016
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