|Samatha Mewis has rejoined the UCLA women’s soccer team after playing in the FIFA World Cup in Japan.|
Hanson’s Mewis back on UCLA pitch after earning gold at U-20 World Cup
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Unbeaten UCLA glad to get Mewis back
The UCLA women’s soccer team was unbeaten through the first full month of the season (9-0-2 overall) after a 4-1 win at Arizona State on Monday night, and ranked third in the NCAA Division 1 poll.
And the Bruins achieved their lofty status minus the services of standout sophomore Samantha Mewis for the first seven games of the season. The 2011 Whitman-Hanson Regional graduate was in Japan, suiting up for US Under-20 squad for the FIFA World Cup.
After helping the US women earn a 1-0 victory over Germany in the championship game, Mewis is working her way back into the UCLA lineup while recovering from a nagging injury.
She is already making an impact, however, with a goal and two assists in four games.
“We’ve only had her back for a little bit,” said UCLA coach BJ Snow of the 5-foot-11 midfielder.
“But she obviously adds extremely dynamic abilities to help us both offensively and defensively. We hope to have her back at 100 percent within a few weeks, but even when she’s not at 100 percent, she is very effective and extremely important to the success of our team.”
As a freshman, Mewis netted six goals and seven assists, finishing second on the team in scoring. Mewis recorded a pair of two-goal games and assisted on the only tally in UCLA’s 1-0 win over New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA tournament. She was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshmen team and was a second-team Pac-12 selection.
Despite her late start with the team, Mewis hopes to improve on her freshman numbers.
“I think we’ve been playing some of the best soccer I’ve ever been a part of,” said Mewis, an English major who chose UCLA over Florida State and Virginia. “We play such possession style that it’s really pretty to watch. I’m just grateful I get to be a part of this and that my team is so welcoming, especially when I miss a lot of the season.”
Mewis, who turns 20 next week, has already seen a fair amount of time on the big stage. She has been playing in international tournaments since age 15, and was on the U-17 team that defeated Germany in the World Cup semifinals two years ago.
She registered five goals and seven assists in 15 international games for the U-20 squad, which began play in February. In the title game against Germany, Mewis replaced Maya Hayes at the 68-minute mark and used her height and ball control skills to help the US retain possession, win tackles, and secure the victory.
“I have to say it was the best experience I’ve ever had,” Mewis said of the five-city World Cup tour that culminated with the championship game in front of 31,000 in Tokyo.
“The team was so close and we just came together at the right time. To have a gold medal from the World Cup is something that I never imagined would actually happen.”
There could be other gold medals in her future. Mewis will be strongly considered for the pool of players chosen to try out for the 2015 World Cup, and the Olympic Games that follow in Brazil in 2016. Her sister Kristi , a senior at fifth-ranked Boston College (8-2-2), was one of the final players cut from the 2012 Olympic squad.
“Obviously it’s the best players in the world who make that team, so it would be difficult, but I’ve always had that as a goal and it’s something I’d love to accomplish,” said Samantha Mewis. “If I’m good enough, that’s my goal.”
Mewis is often compared to current US star Abby Wambach , according to Snow, because of her height and her ability to win balls in the air. The UCLA coach believes that Mewis’s technical skills and height combine for a skill set that has never been seen before at her position for the US women.
“She has excellent athletic ability, size, and extreme technical ability, and that combination doesn’t happen very often in the game,” said Snow. “She is a difficult person for other teams to defend because she can beat you in different ways.
At 5-11, “Abby Wambach stands out as somebody who is a big, athletic player and is good in the air, but the difference with Sam is that she plays in a deeper role. She’s a midfielder, and to have somebody consistently have those abilities in the midfield role is a unique skill set that our country hasn’t seen. For the most part, our country is still trying to identify where she fits in as far as her international game goes, although her ability to play in multiple positions increases her effectiveness and her ability to impact the international game.”
Here and there
The unbeaten Amherst College women’s soccer team (6-0-1), ranked sixth in the country in Division 3, is led by senior midfielder Kathyrn Nathan of Pembroke, last year’s Co-Player of the Year in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The Pembroke High graduate has two goals (one game-winner) and four assists. . . . Continued...