The girls from La Roca Futbol Club in Layton, Utah, crowded into the lobby of their Treasure Valley hotel Friday evening to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team beat China in the World Cup.
“That’s what every girl’s dream is — to play for the national team,” said Olivia Wade, a prolific scorer for La Roca’s U-15 team.
Wade, a 15-year-old going into her sophomore year of high school, has attracted the national team’s attention.
She has attended a series of training camps with the U-17 national team since January and was on the roster for a three-game tournament in February. She expects to join the team for a trip to Spain later this summer.
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First, she hopes to lead La Roca to a Far West Regional title Sunday at Simplot Sports Complex (8 a.m., Field 20). La Roca has outscored its opponents 30-4 in five matches so far.
That includes a shutout of Carlsbad (Calif.), La Roca’s opponent in the final. One of Wade’s U.S. teammates — Sierra Enge — plays for Carlsbad.
Enge has spent time with the U.S. U-17 and U-16 teams this year. She worked with the U-14 team last year and has been in the national team program for about a year and a half.
“It’s been so cool,” said Enge, 15. “It’s different. You see it all on TV, but you don’t know what to expect. You go into the camps and you get to see kind of the life as a professional soccer player and how you have to act.”
Wade and Enge became friends through the national team program. They’ll battle for control of the midfield Sunday.
“I’m super-good friends with Sierra,” Wade said. “That’s going to be a fun game. We both play midfield, so it’s going to be a go-at-it game.”
Said Enge, who leads Carlsbad with three goals: “We know we’re friends, so we can still go pretty hard at each other. They’ve obviously been scoring a lot of goals, so we’re really going to focus on our defense.”
Wade has scored nine goals in the Far West tournament, the most by any girl in the event and tied for the most overall. She scored twice Saturday before coach Pancho Ovalle sat her as the semifinal turned into a rout.
“We’re just super unselfish,” Wade said of the La Roca U-15s. “Everyone just shares the ball. I’ve been fortunate to be on the end of those passes to put them in.”
This La Roca team lost in the regional final last year at U-14. The group qualified for nationals through league play — and did so again this year — but hasn’t won a championship at the regional or national level.
“We’ve all been working hard for that,” Wade said. “The dream is obviously to win nationals.”
Little seems out of reach for Wade. Ovalle raved about her leadership before mentioning the speed, ball skills and defensive ability that make her an ideal attacking midfielder.
“She’s a hard worker, too,” Ovalle said. “She’s training crazy. You have to calm her down. ‘Stop running. Don’t do this. Olivia, you’re done.’ Because she’s running double anybody (else).”
Wade, who plays at Davis High in Kaysville, Utah, comes from an athletic family. Her brother, Jesse, was Utah’s Mr. Basketball this year and plans to play at Gonzaga after a church mission.
Wade has committed to play soccer at BYU.
“I saw (Jesse) work so hard,” Wade said. “My mom and dad played college basketball. I guess I just fell in love with soccer.”
She has played at La Roca for about 10 years, since she started the sport. The national team coaches spotted her last year in a league match against a team from Georgia.
Wade received a phone call inviting her to train with the U-17 team.
“It was the most exciting day of my life,” she said.