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
A “creature of habit” is how U.S. WNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is described by Julie Ertz, her teammate for club and country.
Naeher has a routine that she sticks to almost every morning while on the road with the U.S. WNT. She gets up early in the morning (almost always earlier than any of her teammates), eats some breakfast, grabs a cup of coffee, goes for a walk and sits down to complete a crossword puzzle. It’s a simple routine, but it fits her personality perfectly. She is quiet and calm, but always confident and in control. Those are qualities that provide a sense of confidence to every player around her, on and off the field.
“Who she is off the field, is what you get on the field,” Ertz said. “She has a routine and knows herself really well. She’s so true to herself that she’s so predictable, in like the greatest and most refreshing of ways. You know that she’s going to be doing crossword puzzles, you know she’s going to be at a coffee shop. That’s the real her. She won’t change. She’s also a very loyal friend and that is super comforting to you on the field. I trust her no matter what.”
Ertz and Naeher play together on the U.S. WNT and the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars
The trust she inspires in her teammates is one of the reasons she is qualified to take on one of the most important roles within the WNT – starting goalkeeper.
One of the themes that U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis has been pleased to see running through the team this year is focus. And for a goalkeeper, focus is one of the most crucial aspects of their game.
Even when the ball is on the opposite end, or when no shots or threats of goals are coming their way, a goalkeeper must continue to stay alert and locked into everything happening on the field. They need to read the game and anticipate what may be coming. It’s a difficult job and the pressure is high, so few are wired to be able to excel in the position at the elite levels. Naeher manages this incredibly well.
“The more games she plays and the more experience she gets, she continues to grow in confidence as a goalkeeper,” Ertz said. “She’s very intelligent in the way she approaches the game. From just seeing the ‘keepers in general and how much work they do and how much film they watch and how much attention to detail they have, Alyssa shows up every day and puts in the work.
“When you have someone like her behind you, her mentality and presence gives you confidence as a defender. She reacts to situations quickly and fiercely, and comes up huge in big moments.”
Alyssa Naeher Makes a Big Save vs. France on March 4
Several of those moments came on March 4 against France during the WNT’s second game at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup. Late in the game and with the scored tied at 1-1, Naeher made a pair of excellent saves from close range to maintain the draw and help the U.S. earn a point, giving the USA a chance to win the tournament in its final match against England.
The draw gave the WNT four points at the SheBelieves Cup after two games. The first match was a 1-0 win against Germany on March 1, Naeher’s 13th career shutout. England, which had also won its first game 4-1 against France on Thursday, drew 2-2 with in its second match, thus making the USA vs. England matchup on Wednesday night in Orlando a much-anticipated defacto championship game.
“Being in this position, it’s a good experience for all of us,” Naeher said. “It’s got that tournament feel and it’s what we need going forward to see how can we grow in these moments and be prepared for it.”
Despite only having 26 caps, Naeher is a veteran in this WNT squad. A 2015 Women’s World Cup champion and a 2016 Olympian, many of the young and newer players on the squad look up to her. She’s clear in her expectations and works hard, two attributes of good leaders.
Casey Short shares a laugh with Naeher after a WNT game
“I just started playing with Alyssa a couple years ago but it’s been an honor to play with her for both the Red Stars and the National Team,” U.S. WNT defender Casey Short said. “I knew she was a world class ‘keeper and she’s so good at directing the backline while being extremely reliable. Off the field, she’s humble, very caring and goes above and beyond for everyone around her. It’s been awesome to see her step into the starting role and see how her confidence has grown.”
As the U.S. WNT’s first-choice goalkeeper – she’s started 15 of the USA’s last 17 matches over 2017 and 2018 – Naeher’s role on the team has increased but her routine will stay the same.
“She isn’t going to talk your ear off,” Ertz said. “She’s going to delegate and tell you exactly what she needs and wants and expects from you. Sometimes that’s all you really need.”Read more
Photos from the U.S. WNT's 1-1 draw vs. France in its second game of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, which took place on Sunday, March 4 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Later in the day, England tied Germany 2-2 to close out the double-header. The USA will next take on England on Wednesday, March 7 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNews and will be preceded by France taking on Germany at 4 p.m. on ESPN3.Read more
HARRISON, N.J. (March 4, 2018) – Germany and England tied 2-2 in the second game of the second matchday at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup. Both of Germany’s goals came off goal mouth scrambles, while forward Ellen White bagged a brace for the Three Lionesses.
The result leaves England atop the tournament standings with four points from two games, same as the USA, but with a superior goal difference (plus-3 to plus-1). Germany has one point, as does France, which tied the USA 1-1 earlier today in front of more than 25,000 at Red Bull Arena.
The combination of the day’s results means that the England needs a win or a tie against the USA in the tournament finale on March 7 at Orlando City Stadium (7 p.m. ET on ESPNews, ESPN3) to win the SheBelieves Cup. The USA will need to defeat England to take the tournament title.
The game’s first goal came after a sustained period of German pressure got them on the board in the 17th minute. Germany had several cracks at the net deep inside the England penalty box that were blocked, but Hasret Kayikci was first to a free ball inside the six-yard box and smashed it in off the foot of an England defender to take the early lead. It was Kayikci’s sixth international goal in just nine caps and first of the tournament.
England answered right back a minute later as Ellen White took a pass from Fara Williams near the top of the penalty area and struck a shot that was deflected and skipped past wrong-footed Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult.
Germany took the lead on a wacky sequence in the 51st minute. A mix-up between England goalkeeper Sibohan Chamberlain and one of her defenders allowed a Germany attacker to poke the ball free near the left corner of the goal box. The first German shot was blocked but it bounced out to substitute Lina Magull, who fired low on frame from just inside the penalty area. Chamberlain was retreating into her net and the ball hit her on the foot, bounced forward, then hit the foot of Millie Bright and rolled back over the goal line.
White tied the game in the 73rd minute after getting behind the Germany defense on a long pass from Demi Stokes. White had plenty of time to pick a corner on her uncontested breakaway and slotted the ball into the lower right corner to tie the game. It was White’s 26th international goal in 71 caps.
The SheBelieves Cup concludes on Wednesday, March 7 in Orlando, Fla., when Germany plays France at (4 p.m. ET ESPN3) followed by the USA vs. England (7 p.m. ET on ESPNews).Read more