Junior and starting goalkeeper Sandy MacIver missed the first four matches of the Tigers’ 2018 season as she was in France representing England at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. MacIver and the Young Lionesses made history as they claimed the bronze medal with a win in penalty kicks (4-2) over France, giving England its best-ever finish at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Starting defender and team co-captain Sam Staab was the only collegiate player called up to the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team for the 2018 Nordic Tournament that took place from Aug. 29-Sept. 3. The San Diego, Calif. native scored the team’s game-winning goal in its 1-0 win over Norway to secure the USA’s first-place finish in the event.
Q: What does it mean to you when you put the jersey on to represent your country?
A: SANDY – One of the best feelings is when you walk into the changing room and you see the shirt, especially at the World Cup because that was the first time we had the names on the back of our shirts as well. It truly puts in perspective all the work you have put in throughout the year, and also to know that you have earned your place among the top players for your country…it’s nice.
A: SAM – I think it is one of the coolest things when you walk in and see all the jerseys hanging up; the presentation of the uniforms is pretty awesome, but then you realize that this is your team for your country. Then you see your jersey hanging up, and everything just looks so perfect.
Q: What was it like being the only collegiate player to be called up for the Nordic Tournament?
A: SAM – It was really cool and was definitely a confidence boost. I didn’t really go into it thinking about it like that though; I was just there to get a job done. When our coach talked to us, he referred to us all as pros and I really enjoyed that, as it put my mindset where I ultimately want to be instead of where I am now.
Q: Did your preparation change the further your team advanced in the World Cup?
A: SANDY – No, the really big thing with this team was our chemistry and togetherness. I know it’s talked about a lot, but that really helped us going through each game. We knew the further we got through the tournament that nothing was going to change; and that we have gotten this far for a reason, so nothing needs to change.
Q: How was the chemistry for your team, in terms of being made up of pros as well as yourself, that don’t play with one another often or at all?
A: SAM – We actually played really well together, specifically our back four. Our coach commented on how we were warriors, only giving up three quality chances on goal the whole tournament. I think a lot of it is just all of us knowing that we are there for a reason, and believing in yourself and everyone around you. From there, it is about communication with each other and across lines. Chemistry is a big thing and we would talk a lot throughout the matches, at halftime and on our off days, about what we wanted to do, what we needed to do and how we were going to get there. I think that really helped with our team chemistry.
Q: How different is it for both of you in your positions playing internationally vs. here at Clemson?
A: SANDY – Playing with a completely different back four, that takes a bit getting used to. When I first came back to Clemson after being away, it was about us getting used to playing with each other. For example, I like to use my feet a lot, and needed to have the back four recognize that. Communication is definitely a big one; if our back four is used to a different goalkeeper, then they are used to hearing different things. When I first got back, it was about getting into the rhythm of everyone being on the same page.
A: SAM – I wouldn’t say it is too different for me; either way you are trying to find chemistry. How you’re breaking down a team from the back line doesn’t change too much, it just depends on position – outside back or center back. Like Sandy said, communication, and hearing different things from different people, is another thing. I communicate differently here at Clemson than I do with the people around me at camp, and obviously I hear different things from my teammates here than I do there.
Q: What was going through your mind during the shoot-out to take the bronze medal?
A: SANDY – Everyone says as a goalkeeper the pressure is on the taker, so I felt confident going into it, as I felt that I have a lot of tricks to put the opponent off and it must have worked. I just thought, we came this far, if all the players can score their goals and if I can help out and get one save, then that could be enough to win it.
Q: What was it like to score the game winner for the US U-23 team?
A: SAM I honestly didn’t see it go in, so at first, I was thinking ‘Where is the ball?’ Then, when everyone started cheering I was like ‘Yeah, that was me; I definitely hit it last!’ It was cool though; I don’t really score a lot, so it felt good and it was nice to be involved in the win. It was also nice to be able to say that we won the tournament outright instead of tying with another team, and I was more focused on that than on the fact that I scored the goal.
Q: What did winning the Adidas Golden Glove mean to you?
A: SANDY – I was honestly more shocked, than anything else, when I found out. It was a good feeling, because I knew that over the summer I had put in so much work for it. It is always nice when your hard work pays off, but, at the same time, honestly, our back line helped our team out so much. In the first three games, our opponents had less than five proper goal-scoring chances, so it is a credit to our back line more than anything else.