Andrews gets a kick out of Gatorade trophy

MILFORD, N.H. -- She’s been considered one of America’s elite young soccer talents since her preteen years, but Morgan Andrews put a little space between herself and the rest of the field Thursday when she was named the 2011-12 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Andrews was surprised with the news in her Milford (N.H.) English class by a hero of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Ali Krieger, who earned Gatorade Virginia Player of the Year honors in 2002-03.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” said Andrews, who turned 17 on March 25. “I owe so much to so many for this. I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of this incredible, amazing community. I’m literally shaking. I just don’t believe it.”

The 5-foot-9 junior midfielder captained the U.S. Soccer Under-17 national team to the CONCACAF Women's Championship in Guatemala earlier this month, playing every minute as the Team USA went 5-0 and outscored opponents 26-0. She will lead the U.S. in its bid to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup title this fall in Azerbaijan (Sept. 22-Oct. 13) and will likely miss much of her senior year of prep competition.

Andrews scored 31 goals and passed for six assists at forward this past high school season, leading the Spartans (11-6-1) to the Division II state quarterfinals.

“We got her good on the surprise,” said Krieger, who played every minute for the U.S. women’s national team in the 2011 FIFA World Cup, scoring the decisive penalty kick in a quarterfinal win over Brazil. “It’s such an honor to share this with Morgan and to welcome her to the Gatorade Player of the Year family. It was such a validation for me just to win state player of the year in high school and it drove me to reach higher. I’m confident this will do the same for her.”

As the recipient of the 242nd Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy to be awarded since 1985 (across all Gatorade-honored sports), Andrews becomes the first student-athlete from the Granite State to earn Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in any of the award program’s 12 sports.

A two-time Gatorade New Hampshire Girls Soccer Player of the Year selection, Andrews has recorded 83 goals and 35 assists in three varsity campaigns. She has thrice led the state’s Division II in scoring.

“Morgan is technically above her peers and has been for years,” said Sheldon Shealer, ESPNHS senior editor for soccer. “She’s tactically smart, and she's a team leader. What I feel is most impressive with Morgan is that despite her national team and high-level club commitments, she makes time to play soccer as often as possible -- and that includes with her high school team or sometimes even training with younger age groups within her club program.”

Andrews is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPYS in July. The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court and field of play. ESPNHS manages the award’s selection process.

Andrews has maintained a 3.17 GPA in the classroom. She founded and directs the Kicks for Cans charitable initiative, providing clinic-format training to area youth soccer players whose admission fee is canned food, which is donated to a local food bank. Andrews has also served as a community-outreach volunteer for Share Barn, providing clothing and moral support to area needy.

The teen has further donated her time as a youth coach for the Nashua World Cup Soccer Club in addition to participating in her school's student government and chorus and as a member of the track and field squad. Andrews is a placekicker on the Spartans’ football team and recently shared in all-state honors as part of the Milford High “We the People” constitutional-debate class.

The 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Girls Youth Player of the Year for club play and a two-time NSCAA All-American selection, Andrews has verbally committed to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at Boston College beginning in the fall of 2013.

Andrews becomes just the 20th prep athlete in the award’s 27-year history to win National Player of the Year honors as a nonsenior. She is only the second girls' soccer player to achieve the feat, joining Texas native, 2010 Honda Sports Award winner and 2012 Notre Dame graduate Melissa Henderson (2006-07).

Recent Gatorade National Player of the Year alumni from the realm of women’s soccer include Henderson, Stanford midfielder and 2011 NCAA College Cup MVP Teresa Noyola (2007-08), U.S. Soccer U-23 women’s national team and U-20 World Cup veteran midfielder Mollie Pathman (2009-10) along with Virginia forward and ACC Freshman of the Year Morgan Brian (2010-11).

Brian became the first soccer player to win Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year recognition last July during ESPYs Week.

New Hampshire becomes the 38th state to produce a Gatorade National Player of the Year. The District of Columbia and 12 other states have yet to generate a winner. California is home to more Gatorade national winners than any other state with 58. Texas (25) and Florida (18) rank second and third overall.

Want to know who won Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year in your state? Click here. Visit the ESPNHS Player of the Year blog and be the first to know who wins 2011-12 Gatorade Player of the Year hardware in four remaining sports by following the ESPNHS team that manages the award program's selection process.