Emily Bruder, the top 2013 girls' soccer player in Utah, made a big splash in her international competition debut Thursday night, scoring a goal to help the U-17 US National Team reach a 2-2 tie against Japan.
The forward, who plays for Juan Diego and the Utah Avalanche, is spending the week at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., trying to play her way on to the final national team roster. And when she was subbed in at halftime, Bruder found her moment.
A Japanese defender had the ball when she sudenly had a bad touch near the goal. Bruder pounced, stealing the ball, taking a step up to about 18 yards out and hitting a solid shot to the lower lefthand corner. The U.S. had been down 0-2 at the half, and Bruder's goal helped the Yanks rally.
"When I first heard my name called, I was way excited and really nervous," Bruder said. "I got the butterflies. But once we started playing, it all went away. I realized we could beat them."
The U.S. didn't win, but Bruder, who is already committed to Stanford, flashed her potential, working with the other forwards to set up multiple scoring chances throughout the game. She was a little disappointed that she didn't bury a few more.
Still, playing an international team was an eye-opening experience.
"It was really cool to see how people from another country play soccer," Bruder said. "They really knock the ball around and pass well."
The U.S. will get another shot at beating Japan on Sunday at 4 p.m., and Bruder will get another chance to prove she belongs on the team. Evaluations should take place at the end of the camp, and she'll find out if she's made it.
She hopes to be back in Utah soon to rejoin her teammates on the Soaring Eagle, she said.