Tierna Davidson is not your average 19-year-old, on or off the field.
Davidson, who is considering a major in biomedical computation, bioengineering or human biology at Stanford University, carries herself with a maturity that belies her years. She speaks calmly and eloquently. She chooses her words carefully and is detailed and thoughtful in her answers. She is also confident and in control. All those qualities were brightly on display during the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, on and off the field.
She is a sophomore at Stanford and just 19-years-old
Davidson started and played all 90 minutes in all three games of the tournament. She performed extremely well against three of the world’s best teams, all while playing in the key position of central defense alongside Abby Dahlkemper, no veteran herself with just 17 caps.
At 5-foot-10, Davidson is long and lean, remarkably fluid on the field and seemingly in synch with whatever is going on around her. She was one of only three U.S. players, along with Dahlkemper and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, to play every minute of the SheBelieves Cup.
She won balls in the air and on the ground. She chased down players on counter-attacks and gritted out timely clears. With the ball at her feet she was superb, making quality decisions and helping set the rhythm of the U.S. attack, often breaking a line when she darted into midfield with the ball to unbalance the defense. She even made a goal line save with just five minutes left against England to thwart an equalizer during the de facto tournament championship match. If England had scored, it would have won the tournament.
Battling for a ball against England on March 7
Even though she was by far the least experienced starter on the field, Davidson often looked like one of the best players. For those not versed in the 2018 U.S. Women’s National Team, it was likely hard to believe the games marked only her second, third and fourth senior team caps. She grew with every game and against England was a key player in securing the victory that helped the USA win the tournament.
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis was extremely pleased with Davidson’s performance.
“Tierna was fantastic today,” Ellis said on March 4 after the 1-1 draw vs. France. “Her timing to come across from the weak side and snuff out chances in the box was excellent. Her aerial presence and her composure on the ball were great. She’s a very solid player and her end-point is going to be very high, but I already like where she is. She’s got a great left foot and she was very good today with a lot to deal with.”
Three days later, Ellis once again was impressed with Davidson, this time pointing out how difficult it is for a young defender to excel against this kind of competition in a tournament environment.
“This was her best performance,” Ellis said after the U.S. WNT defeated England 1-0 to earn the 2018 SheBelieves Cup title. “She’s been so solid and calm. I told her that I was so incredibly proud of her. To step in at that age in her first real time with this team and to be at this kind of level of competition, it speaks volumes about her and I’m really excited about where she’s headed because she was fantastic tonight.”
She earned her first cap and career assist with the WNT on Jan. 21 vs. Denmark
With a foot injury to veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn sidelining her for this year’s January training camp and the friendly match against Denmark on Jan. 21, Davidson was given the starting nod against the Danes in San Diego and earned her first cap. She was the third teenager since 2013 to earn a first cap for the WNT. Mallory Pugh (17 in 2016) and Lindsey Horan (19 in 2013) were the most recent teenagers to debut. Davidson still has two years of college soccer left and has already led Stanford to an NCAA Championship, playing a key role in the Cardinal’s run to the title last season in the same stadium where the USA took down England to win the SheBelieves Cup.
Davidson performed well enough during that January camp in Los Angeles in what was her first extended training time with the U.S. team to earn a spot on the SheBelieves Cup roster and, with Sauerbrunn still recovering, got a chance to perform against the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 6 teams in the world while facing off against some of the world’s most dangerous strikers. The teenager delivered and earned the respect of her teammates.
“Tierna is just a really calm player who is always going to find the best solution in the back,” U.S. WNT forward Alex Morgan said after the England game. “When she initially came in with this team and played outside back and I think it was a bit out of her comfort zone, but they moved her to center back and immediately she looked like a veteran. With Becky’s injury and her not being here for the last couple of camps, I feel like [Tierna] stepped up and matured incredibly fast. If someone were watching I don’t think they would say she’s 19-years-old. She’s was fantastic for us, and [against England] she saved a clear goal right off the goal line.”
While the core of players that Ellis will move forward with in 2018 is mostly set, there is always a chance for a new player to get a call-up, earn a chance to play and show she’s got what it takes to help the team.
Davidson’s performances over just four games are a glowing example of that kind of opportunity.
“This was an invaluable experience,” Davidson said after the tournament. “It was the best way to get to know the team, to get comfortable against some world-class teams and to really find my footing within the team. Playing against teams like that kept me on my toes and I got less nervous as the games went on, so in that sense the game slowed down a bit, but of course, I had to speed up my play as well. Before the games, it’s hard not to think about who you’re playing, but once you’re on the field, it’s just another game and another opponent. Whether it’s college players or world-class players, I’m ready to step up to it.”
On and off the field.Read more
The 2018 SheBelieves Cup came to an end on March 7 in Orlando, Fla., as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated England, 1-0, in the final game of the tournament. The victory gave the USA its second championship in the three years the SheBelieves Cup has been contested. After only 11 and nine goals overall were scored in 2016 and 2017, respectively, this year broke a few tournament records.
2 Number of SheBelieves Cup titles the USA has won (’16 and ’18)
2 Number of own goals scored by England (and a third took a deflection off defender Millie Bright, but was credited to
France’s Gaetene Thiney)
2 Players that scored for the USA (Mallory Pugh and Megan Rapinoe).
The third U.S. goal was an own goal, but Rapinoe sent in the cross that England knocked into its own net
The U.S. WNT won its second SheBelieves Cup title with a 1-0 victory against England on March 7 in Orlando.
3 Players on the USA roster who played all 270 minutes of the tournament: Alyssa Naeher, Abby Dahlkemper and
4 Combined goals and assists for France’s Eugenie Le Sommer (2 goals, 2 assists)
Eugenie Le Sommer (right) was the leading scorer for France at this year's tournament.
6 Number of different goalkeepers that played in the tournament
(ENG: Karen Bardsley, Siobhan Chamberlain; FRA: Karima Benameur, Sara Bouhaddi; GER: Almuth Schult; USA: Alyssa
7 Players on the USA roster that were in every starting lineup during the tournament: Naeher, Dahlkemper, Davidson,
Pugh, Alex Morgan, Rapinoe and Lindsey Horan
9 Pugh’s career goals. She scored against France on March 4 and is currently fourth in goals scored before the age of 20
behind Cindy Parlow (15), Mia Hamm (14) and Christie Welsh (11). Pugh turns 20 on April 29, but could have two more
matches to try and move up a spot as the USA plays Mexico on April 5 and 8
10 Number of players that have played in all nine SheBelieves Cup games their country has contested (GER: Dzsenifer
Marozsan, Alexandra Popp, FRA: Le Sommer, ENG: Demi Stokes, Jill Scott, USA: Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Pugh, Carli
Lloyd, Alex Morgan)
Mallory Pugh was one of two U.S. goal scorers in the tournament.
12 Number of players that scored in the tournament (ENG: Toni Duggan, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor, Fran Kirby, Ellen White.
GER: Hasret Kayikc. FRA: Gaëtane Thiney, Amandine Henry, Eugénie Le Sommer, Valérie Gauvin. USA: Megan Rapinoe,
14 Naeher’s career shutouts after earning two during the tournament (vs. GER on March 1 and vs. ENG on March 7)
16 Number of goals scored overall in the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the most ever. By comparison there were nine goals
scored in 2017 and 11 goals scored in 2016.
19 Age of the two teenagers on the U.S. team (Pugh and Davidson)
21 Players on the U.S. roster who saw action in the tournament (only the two back-up goalkeepers did not play)
23 Number of players in each squad’s rosters
25 Pugh hit 25 career starts vs. England on March 7, putting her in second all-time in starts before the age of 20 behind
only Tiffany Roberts (41).
The youngest player on the U.S. roster was 19-year-old Tierna Davidson. She started all three games, playing every minute.
25.8 Average age of the U.S. roster
34 Number of goals that have been scored in all three years of SheBelieves Cups (ENG: 9, FRA: 10, GER: 7, USA: 8)
101 Number of total shots taken by all four teams combined in the tournament. There were 111 shots taken in 2017, and 84
250 Cap earned by Carli Lloyd against England on March 7, becoming the sixth U.S. woman to play 250 games for her
Launched in 2016, the SheBelieves Cup is a major part of the SheBelieves campaign, designed to empower and inspire young girls and women to dream bigger and reach for their goals, athletic or otherwise. This year, the third edition of the tournament is featuring the same four teams that have participated in the first two: England, France, Germany and the USA.
On March 1, on a rainy, snowy and windy night in Columbus, Ohio, the U.S. WNT took on Germany to kick off the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, and like in 2016 and 2017, came out on top by just one goal.
USA vs. Germany: 2018
Courtesy of a Megan Rapinoe goal, the No. 1 ranked U.S. WNT defeated No. 2 Germany, 1-0. The lone goal of the match came about when Alyssa Naeher's long punted service made it to Alex Morgan, who was stationed just past midfield. She just got a head on the ball to split the Germany backline and it rolled towards the goal. Rapinoe then outran her defender and beat Germany’s Almuth Schult to the ball before hitting a shot between her legs into the back of the net.
As exciting as the goal was, most games are won through tough defense and that’s exactly what the USA delivered on a stormy night. The U.S. WNT backline made up of veterans Alyssa Naeher and Kelley O’Hara, and three youngsters in Abby Dalhkemper, Taylor Smith and 19-year-old Tierna Davidson stood tall against one of the most dangerous set of attackers in women’s soccer. For Dahlkemper, Smith and Davidson, it was only their 15th, ninth, and second career caps for the WNT.
“The game was a great challenge that you can’t replicate,” said U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis after the match. “I liked Tierna’s composure on the ball. She needed to be tested in a physical, battling game and obviously, Germany’s players are strong and powerful. I thought she did well, as did Abby. Taylor started a little bit tentative but got her feet under her and was more aggressive in the second half. It was fantastic test for us and they came through.”
The USA and Germany kept it close in the first half with five and four shots each, respectively, though the USA later out-shot Germany 9-3 in the second half. Both games were also the opening matchup for each side during that respective year.
USA vs. Germany: 2017
The final scoreboard at MAPRE Stadium on March 1, 2018, certainly produced a bit of dejavu to March 1, 2017, when Lynn Williams’ lone goal in the 56th minute was the match-winner for the USA in Chester, Pa.
As was expected with the top two teams in the world, the affair was an evenly played match throughout the entire 90 minutes. Once again, the game was end-to-end, the scoring was low and the defense was crucial.
The USA’s first moment of danger came in the 10th minute and Germany responded with a chance of its own in the 12th minute when Sara Däbritz’s rocket seemed to be heading into the upper right corner, but U.S. ‘keeper Alyssa Naeher responded with a diving save and pushed the ball out of danger.
The U.S. took control of the match and missed several close chances in the latter part of the second half that would have sealed the game. In 2017, the USA out-shot Germany by a thin margin of 15-11, even though Germany had the slight 4-3 edge on shots on goal.
USA vs. Germany: 2016
Unlike 2017 and 2018, the 2016 game between the USA and Germany was the sixth and the last of the tournament after both teams had claimed wins against France and England days earlier. As it always is when the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the world square off, the match was highly anticipated. Both teams had six points each – though Germany had the advantage on goal difference and all it needed was a tie – so the game became a defacto tournament championship, with the winner taking the inaugural SheBelieves Cup trophy.
The U.S. Women’s National Team scored two goals in a span of six minutes to defeat Germany 2-1 and win the 2016 SheBelieves Cup.
Anja Mittag’s long-range tally in the 29th minute left the USA needing two goals to win the competition and the response was almost immediate. Alex Morgan evened the score with a sublime bit of skill six minutes after Germany had taken the lead on what was one of the most spectacular goals of her career. She ran onto a long service from Meghan Klingenberg, lifted the bouncing ball over one defender and volleyed it home straight out of the air on the other side. Samantha Mewis scored the title-clinching goal just six minutes after that to secure the 2-1, tournament-clinching victory.
While the win in 2016 led to a tournament title for the U.S. women, that was not the case in 2017. Last year, the U.S. won that opening game but then went on to drop its next two matches against England (1-0) and France (3-0). This time around, the team is hoping that Thursday’s night win in frigid Ohio, will help build momentum to make a successful run at the title with games against France on March 4 (12 p.m. ET; ESPN2) and another vs. England on March 7 (7 p.m. ET; ESPNews) in Orlando remaining.
“It’s competitive,” U.S. WNT midfielder Julie Ertz said when asked about the physical play that always accompanies a USA-Germany clash. “You have some of the best teams in the world. We’re going to battle out there, we know that. I enjoy that type of game.”Read more
Check out all the photos from the U.S. WNT's hard fought 1-0 win against Germany in their opening match of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Earlier in the day, England beat France 4-1 in the tournament's opening match. The USA will next face France on Sunday, March 4 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. The game is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and will be followed by England taking on Germany at 3 p.m. on ESPN3.Read more