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Kicking off soccer season: Starting afresh in the west

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 25. 2018 4:07AM
Morgan Andrews of Milford, pictured in action last season, is getting a new start in a new city with a new team, the Seattle Reign, whose season started Saturday. (ISI PHOTOS)

Throughout the National Women's Soccer League offseason, Morgan Andrews developed her game with her team's future uncertain.

While she finds herself in new surroundings this year, the midfielder from Milford is no longer on her own.

Andrews began her second NWSL campaign with her new team, the Seattle Reign, on Saturday when the Reign opened their season by hosting the Washington Spirit.

Andrews, who turns 23 today, landed in Seattle following the demise of her former club, the Boston Breakers.

The Breakers ceased operations on Jan. 28, leaving Andrews to wait to see if she would be chosen by one of the league's nine teams in the ensuing dispersal draft of Boston's roster.

Seattle selected Andrews with the No. 11 overall pick in the dispersal draft on Jan. 30. The Reign also drafted two of Andrews' former Boston teammates: defenders Christen Westphal and Megan Oyster.

Andrews said it was a harsh reality when she and her teammates learned the Breakers had folded, citing that many players had connections and built homes in Boston and New England. It's unfortunate a women's team was unsuccessful in Boston, which calls itself a sports city, Andrews said.

"But of course on the flip side, I was redrafted to Seattle in the dispersal draft and I'm beyond thankful to Seattle for that," Andrews said. "It's a new chapter for me - a new step in the journey. Seattle is a great city with great fans . I look forward to trying to do my best for them."

After an offseason that involved difficult moments for Andrews, she feels mentally and emotionally stronger as her second year as a professional begins. The former Milford High School standout said she has matured as a player and a person since last season.

"Boston folding was tough but I'm stronger and already excited to utilize that new strength," Andrews said.

Andrews' transition to a new franchise and city has been an easy one. The University of Southern California graduate has become fast friends with many of her new teammates and strengthened her bond with fellow Breakers transplants Westphal and Oyster.

"They're two people who are going through the same thing and can really relate," Andrews said. "It's really helpful having them here."

After Boston selected Andrews No. 3 overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, she played in 18 games, 10 of which she started, last year. The Breakers used Andrews primarily as a defensive midfielder.

Andrews said the Reign utilize a rotation with their midfielders. The Reign's midfield group includes Andrews and U.S. Women's National Team member Allie Long, who spent the past five seasons with Portland.

Seattle emphasizes a possession-based mentality, which Andrews loves.

"For me, I'm a possession-based player so it fits," Andrews said.

Andrews will do whatever the team asks of her but she thinks Seattle will utilize her attacking range and vision higher up the field. After a rookie campaign in which she was held off the scoresheet, Andrews, who logged 35 goals in college, is itching to score at least once or twice this season.

"I want to be an impact player for my team," Andrews said. "I'm going to do my best to put goals in the back of the net this year."

In addition to their possession-based approach, the Reign also want to be known for winning, Andrews said. Seattle went 9-8-7 and finished fifth in the league table last year, missing the four-team postseason.

"(The) goal is always to win a title," Andrews said. "We want to win and we refuse to accept anything but a win."

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