By Niles Pender: Nicknamed “Baby Horse” by her teammates on the U.S. Women’s National Team, Alex (Alexandra) Morgan is one of soccer’s rising stars. A native Californian, Alex began her athletic career at Diamond Bar High School in Los Angeles County where she was a NSCAA All-American, capping off her prep career by captaining her team to the Cal South 2006 state title.
An all-around athlete, Alex also played volleyball and spent two years on her high school track team. She was also honored as a state Scholar-Athlete all four years.
A Top-50 recruit, Alex opted to attend the University of California – Berkeley to play under head coach Neil McGuire. Alex wasted little time establishing herself with the Lady Golden Bears, although she suffered a sprained ankle at the start of the season and missed four matches. Once back in action, Alex quickly became a standout, posting a hat trick against Saint Mary’s and then duplicating the feat in a 3-2 victory over North Carolina.
She led the Golden Bears both in scoring (18 points) and goals (8), earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors as well as second-team Freshman All-American accolades. Although just a freshman, Alex scored three game-winning goals, including the clincher over No. 1-ranked Santa Clara.
As a sophomore in 2008, Alex continued her outstanding play, leading California in points, goals, shots and shots on goal. She recorded her third career hat trick versus Oregon, and was named to the second-team All-West Region team. Between her sophomore and junior seasons, Alex was a member of the U.S. Under-20 National team, scoring four goals during the FIFA U-20 World Cup, including the game-winner in the Gold Medal match.
In her junior season (2009) Alex didn’t miss a beat, once again leading Cal in points, goals and assists as well as scoring three game-winners. She also picked up her fourth career hat trick and made first team All-Pac-10. Alex was also honored by being named to the U.S. National Team.
Alex’s senior season (2010) saw her earn first-team NSCAA All-American honors and repeat as first-team All-Pac-10. For the third consecutive season, she led the Golden Bears in points, goals and shots despite playing in just 12 games due to National Team obligations.
She finished her college career tied for third place in California collegiate history for goals scored (45) as well as third in career points (107). Alex was as prolific in the classroom as on the field, earning All-Academic Pac-10 honors three times, and demonstrated her dedication to her academic pursuits by graduating a semester early with a degree in Political Economy.
The WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) made Alex the first overall selection in their 2011 Draft when she was chosen by the Western New York Flash. She went on to be a key component on the club, which eventually won the league’s championship.
At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Alex was the U.S. Team’s youngest player. She scored her first career FIFA goal in a semifinal victory over France, and followed that up with a goal and assist in the final against Japan, a match the U.S. eventually lost, setting the stage for an epic Olympics rematch the next year. Morgan became an indispensable U.S. Team catalyst, earning praise from both coaches and teammates for her unselfish sacrifices during matches.
She became a prolific and dependable scorer, registering 14 goals in a 12-match span, capped by her first career FIFA hat trick against Sweden.
An integral member of Team USA during the 2012 London Olympic Games, Alex dazzled opponents during the event’s group stage, recording two goals and two assists, helping the U.S. advance to the knockout stage. Against New Zealand, Morgan assisted on teammate Abby Wambach’s goal, placing Team USA into the semifinals. Facing rival Canada, Team USA participated in one of Olympic soccer’s most memorable matches, and won her way into American’s hearts by scoring the game-winning goal in extra time (123rd minute).
In the Olympic Gold Medal match, the U.S. once again took on their old nemesis, Japan. On teammate Carli Lloyd’s header, it was Alex Morgan who set her up with a perfect pass, and with a hard-fought 2-1 victory, Alex and her U.S. teammates had captured Olympic gold. Alex scored three goals during the Olympics and tied teammate Megan Rapinoe for the team lead with four assists.
Alex Morgan, other than being an extremely intelligent and instinctive player, is also known for her speed, regularly zipping past defenders almost effortlessly. She has an innate sense of the match’s pace, and can adapt to changing circumstances on the fly, giving her an advantage over slower opponents.
She’s also considered one of Team USA’s best “in the air,” providing an added advantage in front of goal. She is adept with both feet, and is rarely overwhelmed when going one-on-one. Her maturity and international experience serve her admirably regardless of the style of play, and is always thinking two or three moves ahead.
Niles Pender is no stranger to the world of soccer and highly recommends FansEdge for the latest in official soccer clothing including jerseys, shirts, pants and more! Don’t miss out on his Legends of the Game piece on George Best.