In a recent tournament halfway around the world, Maddie Bauer, a Newport Beach resident, proved she is one of the best teenage girls' soccer players in the world.
While playing center backfield for the U.S. Under-17 Women's National Soccer Team in early March at the La Manga Women's Under-19 Ten Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, the 16-year-old helped her team collect two shutouts in international play.
Team USA's U-17 team beat the U-19 women's team from France, 2-0, March 4. The Americans followed with a 1-1 draw with England — the U.S. lost in penalty kicks — and on March 9, the national team downed the Netherlands, 2-0.
The experience against older girls helped. What also helped was the fact the Mater Dei High junior played all 90 minutes in all three matches. She was one of only two players who played 270 total minutes, along with fellow defender and Boston College commit Morgan Andrews.
"We played against higher-level, higher-caliber teams than we usually play," Bauer said recently at San Miguel Park in Newport Beach. "The girls were bigger, the games were faster-paced. We matched them size-wise. It makes us a little more comfortable with how we deal with situations."
Bauer, who said she prevented at least two or three shots on goal per game, learned from each opponent. Bauer, the No. 12-ranked player in the Class of 2013 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, has played on the U.S. national soccer team since she was on the U-14 team.
"France was the most skilled, the most patient," Bauer said. "I had my best experience against them. It was a night game, the other teams and parents were all watching us. England was the most feisty, the most physical. They were always working the clock, trying to draw yellow cards. The Netherlands team was pretty organized. It was a cool experience, when the national anthem was played. It was meaningful playing for your country."
One of Bauer's goals is to one day play in the Olympics or possibly aWomen's World Cup.
But the U-17 team is taking things one step at a time. May 2-12, the U.S. will compete in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Assn. Football (CONCACAF)Women's World CupQualifying tournament at Estadio Cementos Progreso in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Team USA, which along with Mexico is among the favorites to qualify, must finish as one of the top three teams — two finalists and a wild-card team — to go to the FIFA U-17Women's World Cupfrom Sept. 22 to Oct. 13 in Azerbaijan, a country located between Iraq and Turkey.
The U.S. must first get through a group that includes Canada, Mexico and two Central American teams. The Bahamas, Bermuda and Trinidad and Tobago comprise the other group.
In preparations for CONCACAF, the team will begin a training camp Sunday in Chula Vista, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
"Our chances are really good," Bauer said. "We haven't been able to qualify for the World Cup — in 2010 they did not qualify. So we want to get there. We're going to keep on attacking, get the ball forward."
Bauer said her head coach at the national level, veteran U.S. soccer coach Albertine Montoya, in his first season leading the U-17s, has been a strong mentor.
Montoya is very confident in his starting defender, as evident by all those minutes played.
"The past three or four months, Maddie has become our leading force at center backfield," Montoya said. "She's an unbelievable competitor. She's really stood out over the last few camps. It had more to do with her leadership. We need a leader who can communicate with our team, and she's done that. We feel real comfortable with her on the field."
Ziad Khoury, head coach of the Slammers FC U-17 club team, has also been a great coach.
"He's one of my all-time favorite coaches," Bauer said. "He plays with us, he's always real positive during games. He's a former under-17 player, so he knows what we're going through. Ziad is like my family. He's always been there. He got me motivated through some tough times. He's a real good person."
Kathleen Bauer said her daughter's abilities playing soccer were immediately evident. Maddie Bauer also grew up playing volleyball and basketball and has used part of those skills to attempt several headers toward the net in international play.
"From the day I put a soccer ball in front of her, she was a maniac," Kathleen Bauer said. "She scored five goals in her first games."
Maddie Bauer, who committed to play at Stanford University as a sophomore last year while playing at Mater Dei, is on an absolutely loaded national team. Her fellow defenders include Gabby Miranda, a UCLA commit, USC commit Mandy Freeman and Penn State commit Brittany Basinger. Maddie Bauer carries a 4.4 grade-point average this spring.
"I love my teammates," Maddie Bauer said. "We have a core of nearly 10 players. My confidence level of communicating to my team has gotten better. I've kind of been an organizer, telling them where to go."
For Maddie Bauer, committing to Stanford over UCLA was nearly a no-brainer. Born in Newport Beach, her family moved to the Bay Area, then they moved back to Newport Beach when Maddie was in fifth grade. Her grandfather who she's never met, Gale Whiting, attended Stanford. In addition to that, a few former members of her soccer team, Slammers FC, went on to star at Stanford. One of them is former Soccer America Player of the Year Christen Press, a forward who played in two straight NCAA championship games.
At Stanford, Press set school records with 71 goals and 41 assists during her four-year career. Press won the Hermann Trophy, college soccer's most prestigious award, and was the No. 4 pick for the Women's Professional Soccer League draft, later winning the league's Rookie of the Year award. Camile Levin, whose younger sister, Savannah, played with Maddie Bauer on the Slammers FC team, and Mariah Noguiera are others who Bauer idolized while growing up.
"Stanford offers me everything," Maddie Bauer said. "It offers the best education, it's the best university on the West Coast. I've always been in California, it's very familiar, it's comfortable for me. Plus it has one of the best soccer teams in the country."
Maddie Bauer comes from an athletic family. Her father is Doug Bauer, who played wide receiver for the University of Oregon from 1980-1983, and he has competed in half-triathlons for several years. She has an older brother who plays lacrosse for St. Margaret's, and the two have been counselors in summer camps for disabled children. She has a 14-year-old, 6-foot tall younger brother who plays wide receiver and is set to attend Mater Dei this fall.
While playing for Mater Dei, Maddie Bauer was a key member of a team that reached the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, losing to eventual champion Aliso Niguel. The Monarchs were third in the Trinity League.
"My high school coach [Matty West], let me miss two early-season tournaments," Bauer said.
Kathleen Bauer added, "that school has been so supportive of what she's trying to get done. Every coach and teacher has been so understandable and has helped her achieve her dreams."
West said in an e-mail that if he had to pick one moment Maddie Bauer shined in, it was against Los Alamitos.
"It was an intense game that was tied at 1 late in regulation," West said. "We had a corner kick with five minutes remaining in the game. Maddie made a great run to the far-post and pinged a volley that flew into the back of the net with authority. It was a really exciting moment for the team and I was so proud of Maddie for making such an important contribution when we needed it most."