January 15, 2013
COACHES KNOW BEST
Dorrance, Riley say the sky is the limit for Hermann Trophy winner Dunn
By Michael Lewis
|Paul Riley on Crystal Dunn: "Between the World Cup, NC's championship and the impact on she had in the playoffs in college and was the biggest influence in the national championship. She took the team on her shoulders."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
North Carolina women's coach Anson Dorrance has a message not only for the Atlantic Coast Conference, but for all off women's soccer about Crystal Dunn:
"We're not going to throw her in the back," he said. "We've got our entire defense returning. We're going to leave her right where she is to wreak havoc."
Havoc -- a perfect word to describe what Dunn accomplished during the Tar Heels' run to the NCAA Division I championship last month. Dunn, who began the season at central defense, was moved to central midfield in time for the tournament. The Rockville Centre, N.Y. native either scored or created a goal in UNC's five NCAA games.
Not surprisingly, Dunn was named the Missouri Athletic Conference Hermann Trophy winner as the best women's player in college soccer (she also was named Soccer News Net's women's college player of the year). And, she will have an opportunity to defend that title and the NCAA championship next year. She's only a junior.
Paul Riley, who coached Dunn at the Albertson Fury in the Long Island Junior Soccer League, is convinced the sky is the limit for the versatile player.
"She has potential to be in the squad over the next two years," he said. "She'll still be a young player. She will have two World Cups and two Olympic Games. She's that type of kid, too. She will keep her feet on the floor, keep plugging along like she's always done and she will be in a position to be successful. She trains very well, works so hard. I'm just happy for the kid."
Dorrance had similar thoughts and predictions.
"She will easily be a top draft choice next year when she graduates," he said about the new National Women's Soccer League. "My guess is that it won't be just the U.S. pro teams competing to get her. This girl will be an international superstar. I think the U.S. team will be looking at her this spring, the full team. But she'll also be, in my opinion, recruited by all of the top pro teams in the world, not just because of her versatility but because she is extraordinarily effective.
"She's going to be a wonderful collegiate player in her last year, like she's been in all three of her years. Her impact will be further embellished by a long professional career."
Dunn enjoyed a memorable five months, from September through December, helping the U.S. capture the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup, including setting up the game-winning goal in the final against Germany as a right fullback. When she returned to Chapel Hill, N.C., the Tar Heels were so banged up in the back, Dorrance was forced to play Dunn there. She certainly did not disappoint, earning ACC defender of the year.
"Between the World Cup, NC's championship and the impact on she had in the playoffs in college and was the biggest influence in the national championship," Riley said. "She took the team on her shoulders."
When Dunn performed for the Fury, she was deployed in several positions.
"She's an impact player. No matter where you put her, she's going to help you," Riley said. "I think Anson's move probably won the championship, moving her out of the back because going in I'm sure everyone thought Penn State and Stanford were a little big better. He made some key moves and that was one massive move, moving Crystal Dunn. That probably changed the whole look of the final eight, really. I think Crystal was amazing in the playoffs for UNC."
Added Dorrance: The quality that absolutely separates her is the fact you can play her anywhere. When we were recruiting her we were looking to play her at flank midfield at a 3-4-3. When we got her, during one season, last year, we had to play her up front a lot. We had a pretty thin front line. This is a kid who has played every position on the field, except in goal at a high level."
Riley, two-time Women's Professional Soccer coach of the year with the Philadelphia Independence, certainly did not have a problem with Dunn winning the Hermann.
"She deserved it," he said. "All the players [finalists] were tremendous players. Obviously they were seniors with experience. Caroline Miller -- we used to play against Penn State when I was down in Philadelphia. She's a real good player. But Crystal just lit up the place. She had one amazing year, an amazing year. To do it as a junior is unbelievable, especially over two seniors."
Dunn capped off a memorable year for Fury graduates as Cari Roccaro as 18-year-old from East Islip, N.Y., also played for the U.S. U-20 championship side and enjoyed an excellent first season at Notre Dame.
"Having her and Rocarro win the World Cup and having Roccaro having such a great college season and then Crystal doing this, it's unbelievable," Riley said. "It's icing on the cake for a great year for our college kids. She's only a junior. Even though she's a super talent, she's going to get better and better."
A scary thought for any opponent, huh?