ENCINITAS — When Sierra Enge lined up in her usual center-back position on the soccer pitch in Monfalcone, Italy, last week, she became part of history.
Sierra, a 16-year-old sophomore at Pacific Ridge School and a Cardiff resident, is captain of the U.S. Under-16 Girl’s National Team. On April 26, she and her mates faced off against the U-16 girls team from Iran, becoming the first U.S. women’s national team on any level to face a team from the Middle East.
The U.S. team defeated their Iranian counterparts 6-0, but the score was merely arithmetic given the historic backdrop.
And the significance was not lost on Sierra.
“I mean, it was an incredible honor to be honest,” she said this week. “It was crazy, and we were all super excited to be a part of it. It was an incredibly humbling and incredible experience that all of us will never forget. It also showed how soccer can help with the empowering of women across the world and we were humbled to be a part of that.”
Sierra’s team went 1-1-1 in last week’s International Women’s Tournament of Gradisca, good for fourth place in the six-team field. It was the first international matches of the year for the team and first since the program was re-instated last year.
Sierra said while the team received the invitation a month ago, it wasn’t until two weeks before the tournament that the team learned the magnitude of the game they would play against Iran.
By the time the game started, Sierra said, she wasn’t nervous.
“It just felt very special to be part of that experience,” she said.
For Sierra, that experience could likely be the start of many special experiences in her soccer career. A two-year veteran of the U.S. Soccer program, Sierra has aspirations to play in the U-20 World Cup in 2020 and potentially play on the national team in the World Cup or the Olympics.
As captain of the U-16 team and committed to play college soccer at Stanford University, Sierra is considered one of the elite players in the country and is on track to achieve those goals, a fact that she said excites her.
“It is really cool to know that these goals are definitely options, but I still have to work really hard to make those teams,” said Sierra, who plays club soccer for Carlsbad Elite. “Nothing is for sure, but I am excited to be able to work hard and work toward those goals.”