From the time Morgan Wood stepped onto the soccer field at age 4, she was hooked.
The Central York High junior goalie started playing in the net once her teams began having goalies and never looked back.
The decision to transition to playing goalie full-time in seventh grade has paid off for Wood. She recently verbally committed to play at NCAA Division I William & Mary.
Earning her spot: Last season, Wood joined a talented Panthers team that would win the York-Adams League championship for a third straight season. As a sophomore, Wood had to compete for playing time, but she said it made her a better player.
“Even though I wanted (the starting) spot, we pushed each other and were able to compete against each other and still get along,” Wood said.
When she got her turn on the field, Wood was able to make an impact. Despite sharing time in the net, Wood left enough of an impression on the coaches in the league that she was named a York-Adams Division I second-team all-star.
“I really wasn’t expecting that,” Wood said. “I wasn’t sure if (the coaches) even saw me enough to choose me for that.”
Wood added that the recognition from the league’s coaches boosted her confidence because she wasn’t sure how well she compared to the other goalies in the area.
She would get another boost of confidence when she was named to an even more selective team.
Representing the U.S.: After she made the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program East Region Team, Wood was selected as one of the top 18 players in the program to participate in a series of games in Costa Rica. Wood originally joined the team to get more recruiting exposure, but enjoyed the experience of playing in another country.
She said it was a culture shock at first. She not only had to deal with another culture, she also had to face a different style of play from the opposing teams. Still, she was honored to represent the U.S. while playing the sport she loves.
“It’s really cool, but it’s also really humbling,” Wood said. “You have to realize you are representing everyone (in U.S. Youth Soccer) and act respectfully.”
Following the experience with the U.S. Youth Soccer development program, Wood said watching the U.S. Women’s National Team in the 2019 World Cup was even more inspiring than usual. While she said it’s a difficult position to get, Wood’s dream would be to play goalie the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and current members of the U.S. squad, Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris, are a few of her favorite players to watch.
The recruiting process: During her club soccer season in April and May, Wood’s recruiting process really picked up. After receiving some interest from college coaches during her sophomore year, Wood started to attract the attention of a large amount of NCAA schools while her team played at showcase tournaments.
All the attention initially made Wood nervous. She was closely watching who was in attendance at her games.
“When we first started going to showcases it was really nerve wracking,” Wood said. “I had never played in front of a coach who was potentially scouting (her). Especially when we started getting bigger numbers, like 30 and 40 coaches at our games.”
It took a few games, but Wood was able to learn how to block out who was watching and focus on shutting out opponents. One school in attendance at the showcase was William & Mary, and the coach was impressed.
Wood was invited to a camp at the school, where she played and then toured the campus in June. She received the offer later that month and knew it was where she would end up.
“It just felt right,” Wood said. “Everyone is very welcoming and friendly. It reminded me as much of my life now as any other college could.”
William & Mary was 6-10-1 overall last season and 3-5-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Academics are key: She took July to cross off the rest of the schools she considered to make sure William & Mary had everything she wanted. One main reason she chose the Tribe was the academics offered.
Wood wants to get into the medical field and plans on majoring in biology, which William & Mary offers.
While she is excited and proud that she will be able to play soccer at the Division I level in college, Wood wasn’t focused on making sure she went to a Division I school. Wood never considered waiting another year to see what other offers came because she knew she made the right choice for her life after soccer.
“I wasn’t really concerned with my division,” Wood said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to go to the best academic school I could get into because I want to go into the medical field. At the end of the day, I just wanted the school that fit me best.”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.