IT’S NOT everyday an athlete can say she competed for the United States national soccer team and then return back to her college campus to find out she’s been chosen as the preseason co-offensive player of the year by her conference.
But that’s exactly what happened to Rollinford’s Rachel Hill, a sophomore forward for the University of Connecticut women’s soccer team.
She just returned from Canada playing for the United States’ under-20 national team in the 2014 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The United States opened with a 2-0 loss to Germany before beating Brazil 1-0 in a pair of games in Edmonton. The USA team followed that with a 3-0 decision against China in Moncton before seeing its season end in a 3-1 shootout loss to North Korea in Toronto.
“The whole experience was totally awesome,” said Hill. “I was truly honored and blessed to be a team member, an experience I will never forget. To be around great players and an amazing coaching staff, the whole journey was very positive.”
Hill competed in one of the four games in Canada, playing alongside teammate Lindsey Horan, who scored the only goal in the win against Brazil.
“Two of our forwards got hurt and I knew I was going to get some playing time,” said Hill. “I went into the game about 15 seconds before Lindsey scored the goal on a great low shot. If she had missed it, I was in position to kick in the rebound.”
Hill didn’t get any shots on net, but she said, “When I got in, the game at first felt like it was going 100 miles-per-hour. My adrenaline was pumping right away. When we scored the goal late in the game, we went into a defensive mode and made sure not to give Brazil a chance to tie it.”When she returned to UConn, Hill learned the American Athletic Conference named her as its preseason co-offensive player of the year.
“I’m honored, but at the same time I really didn’t pay attention to it because I have to prove myself all over again this year,” said Hill. “It’s a new season and I haven’t done anything this year.”
Hill did plenty her freshman season, which gained her high praise and recognition entering this season.
Last year she led the Huskies with 31 points behind team highs in goals (13), assists (5) and shots with 85. Her performance after the season earned her first team honors in her conference.
Still Hill, who set a state high school record with 151 career goals at Somersworth High, does not take any season for granted, especially now at UConn.
“You find out quickly here that there are more eyes watching you,” she said. “I have to continue to work hard, look for more ways to get better. I’m still working on ways to get off a more accurate shot, to get more power into my shot and, trying to better my first touch on the ball. I have a lot of room for improvement and I just keep working at it day to day.”