By Kevin Koczwara
Heather O’Reilly started playing for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team while still in high school in East Brunswick, New Jersey. O’Reilly was asked by the national team coach April Hendricks to suit up for the match against Sweden in the Algrave Cup on March 1, 2002 despite being only 17 years old and still in high school. The forward hasn’t looked back since, making over 1oo appearances.
O’Reilly played on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, she was the youngest member of the team, winning a gold medal. She scored a crucial, game-winning overtime goal for the USWNT in the semi-finals match with Germany, which the U.S. won, 2-1. She would go on to be a vital member of the gold medal winning team in 2008 in Beijing, China.
The North Carolina Tar Heels retired O’Reilly’s number 20 jersey in 2008 after she graduated from the university with a degree in education and earning numerous awards for her play on two NCAA Division 1 Women’s soccer teams. She was named Offensive MVP of the NCAA Tournament twice and won the prestigious NCAA Honda-Broderick award for the best female college athlete as a senior – she was nominated three previous times.