Former Chugiak High School soccer star Kelly Cobb, a sophomore at Duke University, is currently playing in Japan in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“I have had the pleasure of coaching Kelly a few times in my role with Alaska ODP, she is a fantastic player,” Juneau-Douglas High School soccer coach Matt Dusenberry said. “It is nice to see her have success at Duke last year as a freshman, making it all the way to the NCAA final. Cool to see her make the national team, and be nominated last year as a candidate for National Youth Player of the year.”
Cobb is among 21 players named to Team USA’s Under-20 squad.
“I feel blessed that I made this team,” Cobb said in a press release. “I feel completely honored to be wearing that crest and to go down to Japan and play in the U-20 World Cup. I have put in a lot of work into making the team I am very excited.”
The U-20 World Cup started August 19 and goes through September 8. Matches are in Miyagi, Kobe, Saitama, Hiroshima and Tokyo. Three matches were scheduled for television viewing. The USA won their first match against Ghana on ESPN3.com 4-0 (ESPN3.com is showing many matches online). The USA match against China will be shown on ESPNU at 1:55 a.m. today and a match against Germany will air on ESPN2 on August 27 at 10:55 p.m. The match between the U.S. and Germany provides a rare chance to see past World Cup champions face off during group play. The U.S. team has a 12-1-0 record this year in international play, the only loss coming against Japan in June. Three days later the U.S. avenged the 1-0 defeat with a 2-0 win over Japan.
Cobb, a Duke University soccer player, will miss seven college regular-season matches and two exhibitions but is expected to be back in time to begin Atlantic Coast Conference play. Cobb began her college career at Duke last season by scoring 11 goals as a freshman and helping the Blue Devils to a runner-up finish in the NCAA tournament.
Cobb, the first player from Alaska to make a women’s World Cup roster at any level, gained valuable experience at the U-20 level last year when she played in a few friendlies in Spain. She scored a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Norway. Prior to her experience in Spain, Cobb also was part of the 2008 and 2009 U-18 national team player pool. The only levels higher than the U-20 team in Team USA’s program are the U-23 national squad and the senior national team, which competes in the Olympics and World Cup.
Cobb attends many soccer camps in the off season and tells young players to practice a lot and follow their dreams.
“Every day I just work to get better,” Cobb said. “I think it will be so cool to see more Alaskans break through the DI barrier and go down and compete on the U.S. teams. It would be awesome. I really hope that there are more.”
The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears girl’s soccer team defeated Cobb and her Chugiak teammates 2-1 in the third-place game at the 2011 Alaska State Soccer Tournament in Anchorage when Cobb was a high school senior.
“To think that we could “man” mark Kelly one-on-one or two-on-one was a bit silly in my mind,” Dusenberry said of that game. “She is a very dangerous player with the ball at her feet, so we focused on denying her teammates the opportunity to get the ball to her. We put immediate pressure on her teammates when they had the ball. That way it made it tougher for them to get the ball to Kelly.”
Chugiak was seeded number one at that state tournament but lost to Dimond in the semifinals; JDHS lost to eventual champion South 2-1 in the semifinals. Against Chugiak, JDHS’ Lia Domke played a ball from the back line across the pitch to Solana Ashe who made a successful shot on goal and Dorothy Brent crossed a ball in the box to Rebekka Ord for the second goal.