Alissa Gorzak’s soccer career continues to blossom.
The Naperville Central junior, who plays for the Eclipse Select club team, has been called up by the U.S. Under-20 National Team for a training camp this week.
Gorzak left Sunday for the seven-day camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. She is one of 32 players chosen for the team that will focus on qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
“I was excited when I was called,” Gorzak said. “It’s always a great opportunity. Every time you have to go in with an open mind and make the best of the opportunity. It’s an honor to play with the best players in your country.”
This is the second training camp Gorzak has attended this year. She trained with the U-17 national team in January.
Gorzak, 16, is one of the youngest players in the U-20 pool. She won’t turn 17 until December.
“Being one of the youngest in your age group, you want to prove you can compete with the older players,” Gorzak said. “They are always telling me I need to be training with older girls.”
The transition to the U-20 team reflects Gorzak’s success in her own age group. She helped her Eclipse club team win a pair of U-16 national championships last summer, the second straight year her squad has done that. The forward scored the winning goal in the 1-0 victory that sent Eclipse to the national finals.
In addition to Gorzak, two other Eclipse players are on the U-20 roster, including Highland Park’s Zoe Redei. Lincolnwood’s Kayla McCoy, who plays for Sockers FC, is the only other Illinois resident on the team.
The fact that Gorzak is on the initial roster for this new two-year period bodes well for her future.
“This is one of the first camps in this cycle, so it’s like a new beginning, with a new coach and new players,” Gorzak said. “That is very exciting.”
This year has been an exciting one for Gorzak, who verbally committed to Virginia in May. The Cavaliers, who went 24-1-1 last season, are currently ranked fourth in the nation.
Virginia coach Steve Swanson coached the U-20 team to victory at the 2012 U-20 World Cup in 2012 and was elevated to head coach of the U-23 national team last December.
“The fact that he recruited me makes me think I’ll keep developing as a player after college if I do choose to continue playing,” Gorzak said.
Gorzak also made official visits to Tennessee and Notre Dame, but committed to Virginia after visiting the campus with her father.
“I got the feeling that it was the right place for me,” Gorzak said. “It’s a gorgeous campus. I love the campus and the players.
“I think the decision came down to the soccer program. It’s really exciting even though it’s early to commit.”