MILFORD — State champion, New Hampshire player of the year, national player of the year, captain of a national team ... It seemed there was nothing in girls’ soccer Morgan Andrews hadn’t done, nothing she had yet to achieve.
It turns out there was something: She hadn’t set a precedent for national recognition.
Now she has.
Andrews on Wednesday became the first athlete to repeat as winner of the Gatorade National Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year award, an honor established in 1985. She received the 2012-13 award during a surprise assembly at Milford High School, where she has excelled for four years in academics and community service, as well as athletics.
Among the attendees was Heather O’Reilly, the 2002 Gatorade Player of the Year and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.
“Everybody in this room knows what a special girl Morgan is,” O’Reilly said. “She is not only an incredible athletic, she is extremely hard working, she is humble and she is a leader.”
That was never more apparent than last fall, when she returned from her stint as team captain of the USA Soccer team that played in the CONCACAF and World Cup 17-under tournaments to lead Milford to 14 straight victories and the NHIAA Division II championship. Fittingly, she scored both Spartan goals in a 2-1 win over Souhegan High of Amherst in the title game, giving her 31 goals and 18 assists in just 15 games.
That made her a shoo-in for her second straight New Hampshire Union Leader Player of the Year selection, and led to her selection as National Soccer Coaches Association High School Player of the Year. A second Gatorade national award was the capper to all her high school accolades.
“It was a magical year for us and it was a magical year for Morgan too,” her coach at Milford, John Vlachos, said. “She was elected captain two years in a row. She is an excellent leader on and off the field. You don’t get where she is and not put the effort in and work hard. She is an incredibly hard worker. She is an easy kid to coach.”
A member of the player pools for the national 20-under and 23-under teams, she has plenty of soccer ahead, including at the collegiate level for Notre Dame. She’s considered a leading candidate for spots on the U.S. team in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Gatorade representative Nancy Laroche noted that Andrews’ selection as her company’s player of the year took into consideration off-field activities as well as athletic achievement.
“Because of her athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character, Morgan truly embodies the values we seek to acknowledge and reward through the Gatorade Player of the Year program,” Laroche said.
Andrews has maintained a 3.13 grade-point average in the classroom, served as a coach in the Milford youth-soccer program and established a charity event, Kicks for Cans, that collects food at a local soccer clinic for distribution to needy members of the community.
Saying she had no idea she would win the Gatorade award again, Andrews thanked her schoolmates, her teachers, her coaches and her teammates, crediting the last group for making the award possible.
“You’re my friends — like I said, my dance partners, always, and my sisters, always,” she said.
She also thanked her parents, Mark and Michelle Andrews, for all the investment of time and money they’ve made in her career, and she made special mention her brother Matthew, a Green Beret currently serving in Afghanistan.
“So we’ll send a few prayers out for him,” she said.
She’d already made a statement about her feelings for her another brother, Michael, forgoing a trip to Switzerland with the national 20-under team to serve as bridesmaid in his wedding on June 1.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said.