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Gators freshman Savannah Jordan has had plenty to be excited about since coming to Florida.

Monday January 27, 2014Instant Impact: Jordan Carried Success at UF to International Stage

Gators freshman Savannah Jordan has had plenty to be excited about since coming to Florida.

By Michelle Provenzano
GatorZone.com Writing Intern

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Savannah Jordan is making a bold statement in the soccer world.

Jordan was the first freshman in conference history to win the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year award and her 22 goals were the second-most in school history for a UF freshman.

Jordan’s play has made it hard for the pros not to take notice.

How can you not notice a 19-year-old player, who only started playing soccer when she was 13 and already has the soccer IQ of an elite player?

Even former Gator and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach couldn’t resist tweeting about Jordan’s accomplishments.

But it wasn’t for her outstanding debut season at Florida. It was for what Jordan did in her first test on the international stage.

Jordan was one of 20 players selected to play for the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team in the 2014 CONCACAF Championship in George Town, Cayman Islands, earlier this month.

Jordan made the team after participating in two training camps with the national squad.

“It was amazing – the best feeling,” Jordan said. “They picked 20 girls from the 26 that were at camp. It was incredible. I was really excited, and it was a great trip, too.”

After competing in five games – where the U.S. dominated competition from Costa Rica, Jamaica, Guatemala, Trinidad in the semifinal and Mexico in the final – Jordan ended with five goals under her belt, one for every game.

“I just went down there with the expectations to play, do the best that I could and help the team,” Jordan said. “It was just even better that I could get goals.”

In the first-round matchup, the U.S. faced Costa Rica, and Jordan decided 4-0 wasn’t a satisfying enough lead for the team. In the 81st minute, she controlled a pass from the far flank, faked past a Costa Rica defender and ran the ball up to rifle it into the net.

Her goal stretched the lead to 5-0 before the U.S. won in a 6-0 shutout.

“The feeling was just great,” Jordan said. “It just let me know I belonged there and that I could score with those guys.”

Under-20 women’s coach Michelle French added: “Regardless of whether she is playing with the Gators or if she’s with the U.S., she’s always really composed and extremely calm. That kind of resonates when she’s out there playing. It helped spread throughout the rest of the team.”

In the next round against Jamaica, Jordan’s soccer IQ was displayed in full force.

In two precise and fluid movements, she chested the ball off a long shot from midfield and powered a shot off her right foot to send it over the diving goalkeeper and into the net.

“That’s probably one of those world-class goals that you know that she can score,” French said. “Because she’s so composed, and has the technical ability and the confidence to actually do that, it says a lot about her.”

Savannah Jordan

The U.S. ended the night with a 3-0 victory.

In the U.S.’s 10-0 romp over Guatemala, Jordan grabbed the USA’s fourth goal off a penalty kick, sending the ball to the upper left corner of the goal.

Then the U.S. sealed qualification for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, set for Aug. 5-24 in Canada, in the team’s 6-0 win over Trinidad.

Jordan scored the second goal of the match, sending in a long shot to an open goal.

And in the long awaited final against Mexico, the U.S. was able to grab its fifth consecutive shutout.

Once again, Jordan contributed to the U.S. stash of goals.

This time she gave the U.S. some relief, safeguarding a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute.

As a Mexico defender ran up to mark Jordan on her left side, Jordan blindsided the goalkeeper and smacked the ball in the left corner of the goal.

“It was kind of a motivation for the whole team,” Jordan said. “It relaxed us a lot. For me personally, I know once I got the goal I was able to relax and knew that I could just play after that.

“The atmosphere there was really exciting and really intense. Mexico was the toughest team that we played. They had a lot of opportunities and great chances, but just the feeling of being able to win that and even shut them out was amazing.”

It’s no doubt that Jordan has always been a focused and aggressive player out on the field, but she remains humble and driven by her love of the game.

“You just really have to embrace the feeling and know that you’re just blessed with an opportunity like this,” Jordan said. “It’s always a competition and always something you’re competing for, but you have to enjoy every minute of it.”

Being named one of the tournament’s best 11 players is the latest accolade for Jordan.

But Jordan gives all the credit to her Florida teammates.

“We played so good together as a team and a lot of my goals — like I’ve always said — have come from my teammates,” Jordan said. “Being able to have those honors just reflected on how good the team did this season and what we have in store for us in the future.”

That future is becoming brighter with every step Jordan takes onto the soccer field.

More opportunities such as her experience with the U.S. Under-20 team are possible.

“There is no doubt she has the talent right now for us to look at her and think she has a really bright future,” French said. “I know that she has the work ethic and the determination to get better. As long as she stays on that path, I know she’s going to have a bright future.”

Everything Jordan does on the soccer field screams dedication. To spend just five years honing a sport into almost an art form with the success she has already, Jordan is far from done with achieving higher success on the field.

“Since I started playing soccer from day one, that’s always something I knew I wanted,” Jordan said. “To have recognition from people, especially players like Abby Wambach, it feels like an honor just to be able to hear from them and know that they recognize you.

“It’s something I knew I always wanted and strived for during these five years. I’m just trying to embrace every moment of it now.”

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