In the second game of their season, the IMG Academy girls' soccer team was down 3-1 against one of top teams in the league, Boca United, whose powerful forwards were in full attack mode.
For newcomer Morgan Maroney, it was the moment she'd been waiting for. The sophomore had a chance to show her new team what she was made of.
Maroney, who joined IMG after leading her club team in Colorado to a national championship, quickly battled back against Boca's forwards, hustling in the midfield and setting up scoring opportunities for her teammates.
"She earned the respect of her teammates and me because we saw her true abilities come to light," says Bobby Johnston, Maroney's coach at IMG. "She was challenged on the field and she rose to the occasion."
Maroney established herself as a leader among her teammates, and she continued to perform well on the field. Her stock has been on the rise ever since. Recently, she received an invitation to attend the U.S. Soccer Training Center for a single-day session used to identify the best players in the country for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Team.
Not bad for someone who picked up the game in elementary school as a way to spend time with friends.
"She's a tremendous personality," Johnston says. "One of her biggest strengths is her ability to step up and be serious, yet still loosen up the team and focus everyone in the right direction. All the girls respect her, because she backs it up with her ability."
Despite her many accomplishments at such a young age (she turned 16 in January), Maroney says her game isn't where she wants it to be just yet. But her philosophical approach to setbacks allows her to keep progressing, even when things don't go her way. "I'm learning that mistakes happen, but you have to brush them off, because there's always another game coming up," she says. "You can't waste time worrying about last week."
Besides, with a shot at the national team on the horizon and her sights set on earning a scholarship to play Division I soccer, why would she want to look back?
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