Note: The following appears in the Texas A&M gameday football program.
Sandy MacIver started her soccer career at the age of four after her mother encouraged her to pick up a sport in her hometown of Winsford, England. Little did she know that this would take her to Clemson and then to France to represent her home country in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The senior goalkeeper’s decision to attend Clemson was inspired by a friend who came to college in the United States the year before. Although initially apprehensive to leave England, the idea of getting a degree while being supported as a student-athlete made the decision easy.
“I was playing for the U-17 National Team in Iceland and I was scouted through that, and from there, it was always Clemson.”
Her journey to the U-20 World Cup started when she was called up for the U-15 team, but did not make the final roster. It was not until the U-17 team that she was playing for England’s national team, where she has been playing through the U-21 team.
“Our World Cup was last year for the U-20s, and that was an unreal experience. To be able to go to a tournament and play against the best players was one of the best things I’ve been able to do.”
The team played together for years, giving them great chemistry.
“That team was so close on and off the pitch, which is quite rare,” explained MacIver. “Having everyone on board for the same goal made that tournament and experience so much better.”
In France, the squad played three group-stage games, opening up with a victory over the reigning champion, North Korea. This set the tone for the rest of the tournament, as the team followed up with a tie against Brazil and wins against Mexico and Holland. They then lost to the current champion, Japan, in the semifinals and eventually won the bronze medal.
After underperforming the year before in the European Championships, the team was fortunate to qualify for the World Cup.
“At the end of that youth cycle, to have achieved something which no one from England in that age group had done, was incredible. We put in three years of hard work with inconsistent success. To finally have our best performances when it mattered most felt like such an accomplishment.”
MacIver was honored with the Golden Glove award for her outstanding performance in goal.
“Winning the Golden Glove was surreal on a personal level. It’s always nice to be given recognition for the work you put in.”
But for MacIver, it is about more than her personal success.
“Being able to represent England and Clemson at the highest level is one of the biggest honors. Not only do I get the opportunity to play for a top college program at a fantastic school, I get to represent the Paw wherever I am, whether that’s with the national team or back home.”
Despite the different cultures and stages, MacIver sees similarities between her U-20 team and Tiger team.
“We’re all there to do what we love…play soccer. Both teams feel like a family, and that really helps when you go through a journey of ups and downs together.”
Now in her senior season, MacIver and her teammates are filled with excitement.
“I want to end on a high. I love coming back in and I love the team so much. We want to show that we can compete against the best teams.”
After graduation, MacIver intends on playing professional soccer, either in the United States or England.