Soccer Star Heather O'Reilly Going For The Hat Trick
As women's soccer champ Heather O’Reilly, 27, prepares for another appearance in this Summer’s Olympic games, she’ll be coming into this year’s events with a whole new mindset. Her mentality this year is pretty simple; if you’re not first, you’re last. “Anything less than a gold medal probably will be a disappointment for us," O’Reilly stated at the Olympic media summit last month. "That's just the standard that has been made for the women's national team."
Born on January 2, 1985 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, O’Reilly has always been a decorated athlete throughout her career. As great of a soccer player as she is, she was also talented in basketball as she played point guard during her freshman, junior and senior years at East Brunswick High School. When she wasn’t spending time on the playing fields, O’Reilly would be hitting the books, as she was a member of the National Honors Society. One of her biggest accomplishments during high school came in 2002 when she was named to the US Nationals team. As a senior, O'Reilly would go on to win several awards such as the Parade National Player of the Year, Gatorade High School National Player of the Year and being named to Soccer America’s number one college recruit in the country. O’Reilly would find success as she played for other teams such as the New Jersey Wildcats and Sky Blue FC.
O’Reilly had an illustrious collegiate career, as she became a key component for the North Carolina Tar Heels women’s soccer team, according to TarHeelBlue.com. While playing forward for the Tar Heels, O’Reilly would go on to set several school records including the most goals scored in a single NCAA tournament with eight as a freshman. She would later go on to win two national championships under a brilliant performance each time. During her four-year career, she scored 59 goals while appearing in 97 games, was named “Offensive MVP,” and was awarded the NCAA Top VIII award for achieving excellent performances in both athletic and academic achievements. O’Reilly would later graduate with a degree in education. She was such a vital part to the women’s soccer program that she later had her Number 20 jersey retired by the school.
O’Reilly has been part of the US nationals team ever since the young age of 17. Her first big moment as a member came in August of 2004 where she scored the game winning in the semi-final match against Germany, which would lead the US to victory against Brazil en route to her first ever Olympic gold medal. Four years later, as she made her second appearance as a member of the US women’s team in the 2008 Olympics, O’Reilly would lead the team to victories over Japan and a heavily favored Brazil as they would go on to win another gold medal.
Despite making a third a appearance, playing in the Olympics never gets old for O’Reilly.
But this year, she is taking a different approach in terms of being more of a leader. “In 2004, I was probably the last player chosen on that team," O’Reilly said. "I was just a young kid — I was only 19 — I was just happy to be there and happy to contribute and play with some of my idols like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, those legends of the game.” when asked to talk about her first time “Then in 2008, my role grew and now I'm seen as a veteran player. So my role has grown even more to guiding players like Alex Morgan through her first Olympic Games and share what I've learned in my first two Games."