North grad helps U.S. to Under-23 Nordic Cup Championship

When Morgan Proffitt received an invitation to participate in the U.S. Women’s Soccer Under-23 National Team Training Camp last month, little did she know it would lead to an even bigger opportunity.

The Columbus North graduate and Marquette senior-to-be earned a spot on the U-23 national team that played in the Nordic Tournament in England. Proffitt played a big role in helping the United States come away with the championship.

“It was awesome,” Proffitt said. “I’ve never experienced anything that high of a level. These are national teams, so you’re not going to get anything less than really good.”

The U.S. opened with a 3-1 win against Sweden on June 2. Proffitt played 15 minutes at the end of that game.

Then came a 2-1 win against Norway on June 4, a game in which Proffitt played the entire 90 minutes. A stopper in college, she played center midfield in the Nordic Cup, and her GPS tracker showed her running about eight miles in that Norway game.

“Especially in the stopper role, I think I probably do more running,” Proffitt said. “But I hadn’t played in a 90-minute game in a while. Your legs are feeling it more at the 80-minute mark.”

In its finale, the U.S. tied England 1-1, then lost on penalty kicks. Proffitt played 25 minutes in the second half and was part of the PK shootout.

The U.S. claimed the Cup title based on overall goal differential. Coach Janet Rayfield praised Proffitt’s play, especially in the Norway game.

“That victory proved critical in our winning the Nordic Cup tournament,” Rayfield said. “Her ball winning and defensive presence and her sheer desire to compete were critical to our success in that game and ultimately in the event.”

The trip to Europe was the second for Proffitt. She played in the Netherlands with her Olympic Development Program team following her freshman year at North.

This time, Proffitt and the U.S. team stayed in Telford, England, and played their matches in Burton-upon-Trent. Although they were there for 10 days, they didn’t get to do much sightseeing, other than to see the Iron Bridge, the first bridge ever made of cast iron.

“It was really just soccer,” Proffitt said. “We were there to win the tournament.”

This summer, Proffitt is spending her second year with the Chicago Red Stars Reserves. She was a starter on last year’s team that won the WPSL reserves national championship.

Proffitt missed the Red Stars Reserves’ first game while she was in England, then did not play in their two games last weekend while recovering from the Nordic Cup and the eight-hour flight home. She hopes to be back in the lineup on Saturday when they host the Minnesota Twinstars and Sunday when they travel to play the KC Courage.

Since she is taking summer classes at Marquette, Proffitt is making the 90-minute commute from Milwaukee to Chicago for practices twice a week and for games.

The WPSL Reserves season ends in late July, about the same time the college preseason begins. Proffitt was an All-Big East Conference selection last fall, when Marquette went 8-8-3.

With a U-23 national training camp, three international caps and two seasons in the WPSL Reserves, Proffitt is hoping to get drafted next spring and play in the WPSL.

But first, she hopes to lead the Golden Eagles to their first Big East title and NCAA Tournament appearance since her freshman year.

“There’s always room for improvement with whatever you’re doing,” Proffitt said. “Getting to this level is an accomplishment, but there’s always room to grow. Hopefully in the fall, we can win that Big East title with my team.”

Morgan Proffitt

High school: Columbus North

College: Marquette

Year: Will be a senior

Height: 5-10

Position: Defender/midfielder

College accolades: All-Big East (first team 2015, second team 2014); All-Big East Preseason Team (2015); Big East Defensive Player of the Week (9/14/15 and 10/26/15); Big East Weekly Honor Roll (9/28/15); Big East All-Academic Team (2013-14 and 2014-15)

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.