October 17, 2016
McGlynn to compete for U.S. U-18 Women's National Team in Northern Ireland
Tech's goalkeeper will miss three of the Hokies' games, but didn't feel she could pass on the opportunity

By Jimmy Robertson

Not meant to be a trick question, but when asked what she knew about Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, Mandy McGlynn hesitated.

“I think the Titanic was made in Belfast – maybe,” she said.

She’ll be learning much more about the city than that it, indeed, served as the birthplace of the famous ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sunk in 1912. She is currently in the midst of an 11-day trip in the country, albeit for non-tourist reasons.

McGlynn, the starting goalkeeper on the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team, received an invitation to join the United States U-18 Women’s National Team that will be playing games against Northern Ireland, France and England in the 2016 Women's International Cup over the course of the next week. The competition starts Tuesday with a game against England at 2 p.m. The U.S. team then will play France on Thursday and Northern Ireland on Sunday.

McGlynne accepted the invitation approximately two weeks ago and departed last Thursday to join the team in Newark, New Jersey, before they flew across the Atlantic. She was one of just 20 players chosen to go on the trip and one of just two goalkeepers.

“I’ve been in and out of the U-18 national camp pool before,” McGlynn said. “It was mainly when I played club soccer and toward my later years that I got noticed by some U.S. national scouts. My [club] coaches had connections with them, so they called me in, and I did well.

“I’ve been in and out of camps. I put my name on the map initially, so that’s how they came about to invite me to this. I think it’s a great opportunity. This is the end goal for me. I want to be on the U.S. women’s national team full time. Eventually, I want to play pro after these four years. Getting into that type of environment while I’m young is amazing.”

The invitation came at an inopportune time for the No. 24-ranked Hokies, who are trying to secure berths in both the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship and the NCAA Championship. After a three-game losing streak to start ACC play – with two losses coming against top-10 teams – the Hokies hadn’t lost in their previous four games, moving to 10-4-2 on the season, 2-3-2 in ACC play with a 1-1 draw against Louisville on Sunday afternoon.

McGlynn, who missed the Louisville game, had started the first 15 games. She will miss two more games, returning in time for the regular-season finale against Wake Forest.

Tech coach Chugger Adair has seen this type of situation before. In 2012, Dayle Colpitts, also a goalkeeper, missed the first five games of the season while playing for Canada in the FIFA U-20 World Cup over in Japan.

So Adair understands the dilemma for McGlynn. Great players want to play on the international stage. He left the decision to her and supports her wholeheartedly.

“Obviously, the timing is challenging, but we have to look out for Mandy and what is best for her,” Adair said. “That’s why we’re a team. We have depth at all positions, and we have capable players who can step up. That’s how we have to approach it as a coaching staff and a team. I know we’re prepared to go into the matches without her.

“In our sport, the international game doesn’t stop for a college soccer season. So it’s important for the kids to have those opportunities.”

Adair also felt that he owed this to McGlynn. Originally, she was to be a part of the 2017 freshman class, but the Hokies’ goalkeeper last season, Kaylyn Smith, decided to transfer. McGlynn took the two courses she needed to graduate from Sandalwood High in Jacksonville, Florida, over the summer and enrolled for the 2016 season.

“She did that to help us out and fill our need at goalkeeper, so we definitely wanted to support her,” Adair said.

Adair actually expected this. McGlynn was a top-shelf recruit coming out of Sandalwood, and she spent time at a U-18 camp in Carson, California back in April. Plus, she possesses some international experience, having spent time in Germany and France with her club team, while playing club teams in those countries during the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Also, having played in ACC matches this fall made her more attractive to the U.S. national team coaches and officials.

This was one of the reasons that she chose the Hokies over schools such as California, Texas and Clemson during the recruiting process. She visited Tech three times during the process. She loved the beauty of the campus, but she also loved that being in the Hokies’ annually good program afforded her opportunities – one such as this.

The down side to this opportunity was telling her teammates and then leaving during such an important time of the season.

“It was very hard,” she said. “I love playing with our team. We’ve been improving. Just right when we’re getting there, I have to leave. It was a hard decision, but at the end of the day, I want to carry on with soccer beyond college. Doing this while I’m young will help me reach that goal.

“They [her teammates] were very supportive. They said if they were in my shoes, they would have done the same thing. They were very excited for me.”

McGlynn, a top-notch student pursuing a degree in human nutrition, foods and exercise, took the formal invitation that she received from the U.S. soccer officials to all of her professors. Though she takes a heavy course load – six classes – most of her courses are online, so she can study and remain on top her academic responsibilities while away.

McGlynn’s departure leaves the Hokies’ goalkeeping chores in the hands of redshirt junior Blayne Fink and sophomore Zoe Foxhall. Fink got the start against Louisville and made five saves. She has played in three games this season and six games during her career at Tech.

Fink gives the team plenty in the way of leadership and communication, and Adair expects her to play well in the next two games. He doesn’t plan on changing his philosophy or style of play during McGlynn’s absence.

“We’re not going to change. It’s too late,” he said. “Blayne hopefully can step in and take over the reins, and we’ll be fine. Blayne has a good kicking game. She’s a little more vocal and a little more experienced than Mandy. She has different strengths and weaknesses.

“I think the main thing for us is to make them earn a goal. We need steady goalkeeping and defending.”

The Hokies play No. 20 Notre Dame on Thursday and then go to Miami on Sunday, before closing the regular season the following Thursday.

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