Brian shines for Cavs and country
Junior midfielder keys No. 2 Virginia after scoring first international goal
Thus far in the young fall season, the No. 2 Virginia women’s soccer team has utterly dominated every team on its schedule. The Cavaliers (6-0, 0-0 ACC) are among the most balanced teams in the nation in terms of scoring ability and defensive proficiency thanks to a roster brimming with talent from top to bottom. For all the excitement the team has generated on the pitch, Virginia recently got an additional burst of excitement when junior midfielder Morgan Brian scored her first goal with the United States Women’s National Team in a 7-0 win against Mexico last Tuesday.
“It’s always an honor to have players on the national team come from your college,” Virginia head coach Steve Swanson said. “It’s a tribute to our team and to the support that soccer gets from the University. We could not be more proud and excited.”
Brian is no stranger to international play. She was a member of the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and the FIFA World Cup Champion U-20 US national teams before making her first appearance with the senior national team against South Korea in June.
Before and during her international career, she has consistently thrived back home. Since committing to the Cavaliers as the No. 1 ranked recruit coming out of high school three years ago, Brian has been named a Gatorade National Female Athlete and Player of the Year, the ACC Player of the Year, and an ACC Tournament MVP—despite having to split her time with international squads.
“She’s very good about managing her time, and getting things done when they need to be done,” Swanson said. “That’s part of what has enabled her to do the things she has done.”
This staggering resume is why many Virginia fans were unsurprised when, in the 72nd minute against Mexico, Brian became the first current collegian to score in a national team game since Alex Morgan in 2010. The junior was in the game for just two minutes before the legendary Abby Wambach tapped the ball to her at the top of the box and Brian fired a strike that deflected off a Mexican defender and snuck just inside the near post.
“It was great to be a part of it,” Brian said. “Abby Wambach laid me off a great ball, and I just took a test run at the defender and looked to place it, but she actually got a deflection and it got in. I think for [Wambach] to give me my first assist on an international goal is a pretty good story.”
What made the moment even more special than the goal itself was the small section of RFK Stadium that roared above the rest of the crowd. The entire Cavalier squad and coaching staff were on hand to watch one of their own score.
“She has a great team behind her, a very supportive team that cares about her a lot,” Swanson said. “To be there to share that moment with her was very special.”
Brian had little time to breath upon returning to Charlottesville, as Virginia hosted Rutgers and Seton Hall in the annual Virginia Nike Soccer Classic. Unsurprisingly, Brian sparkled over the weekend, scoring three goals and adding an assist en route to a tournament championship and a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Those scores nudged Brian’s goal total ahead of hers from all of last season, a statistic that suggests her time with the national team has helped the already-elite midfielder to improve.
“I gain a lot,” Brian said. “I think I can take a lot of it coming back here to play for the school. The experience was pretty great.”