CAMAS — Lauren Rood will never forget Nov. 7, 2013.
The memory will be bittersweet.
The Camas High School sophomore was in goal for the United States soccer team in a 2-1 loss to Mexico in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women's under-17 Championships. With a spot in next year's under-17 Women's World Cup at stake, Rood and her teammates experienced the heartbreak of losing a penalty-kick tiebreaker.
Two links to share:
A U.S. Soccer Q and Q with Lauren Rood —http://www.ussoccer.com/media-library/videos/u17-wnt/2013/10-things-about-lauren-rood.aspx
Highlights from the semifinal match —http://www.ussoccer.com/media-library/videos/highlights/u17-wnt/2013/u-17-wnt-vs--mexico--highlights---nov--7--2013.aspx
The result means the United States will not be part of the 2014 U-17 World Cup.
"All of us were heartbroken," Rood said. "Some of these girls have been working for this for two years. I know how hard it hit me, and I've only been with the team for a few months."
Rood, who turned 16 last month, was first invited to a national team camp in the spring. She saw her first international action in August friendly matches in England, and became the No. 1 goalkeeper on coach B.J. Snow's USA under-17 roster.
As a freshman a year ago, Rood made three saves in a high school state playoff match helping Camas reach the semifinals. She didn't have time to play for the Papermakers this fall because of the national team schedule, but was on hand last Wednesday as Camas advanced to the state quarterfinals with a win over Wenatchee.
At the CONCACAF tournament in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Rood played in three of the five USA matches, making four saves on five shots. In the semifinal she was credited with two saves as she watched her teammates dominate possession and come within inches of scoring multiple goals.
As the goalkeeper, Rood carried the fate of the United States team on her shoulders once the semifinal match reached a tiebreaker after the teams played to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
"I was extremely nervous," Rood said. "But at the same time I felt very prepared and very confident because of all of the work I put in."
Part of that work was scouting the Mexican shooters. Rood read each of Mexico's shooters correctly. She got a hand on one shot diving to her right and a fingertip on another diving too her left, but she couldn't save any of the well-struck shots.
Her counterpart, 14-year-old Mexican goalkeeper Emily Alvarado, made two saves to win the five-round shootout.
"Usually if you lose a championship, there's always next year. This isn't the case, that's what made it hurt a lot more," Rood said.
The pain will push Rood to work harder.
"Our coaches told us, 'The hardest losses make the toughest players,' " Rood said. "As tough as that game was, I realize it's just something to motivate me to keep working hard and keep improving."
On a personal level, Rood said the coaches were extremely supportive of her in the aftermath of the unexpected loss.
"Their words of advice were not to hang my head over any of this," Rood said. "I felt horrible after that game. It was really good to hear that encouragement from the coaches."
Rood said the coaching she's received and the friends she made during her time with the national team far outweigh the pain of the loss to Mexico. She now has high-level coaches she can go to for advice, and friends spread across the country that she exchanges text messages with daily.
"This was still one of the best times of my life, and something I'll never forget," Rood said.