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Granite Bay alum defends U.S. goal

Liz Harkin part of national team effort at U-20 World Cup
By: Jon Brines, Special to the Press-Tribune
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Liz Harkin knew how to nutmeg defenders while playing girls’ soccer at Granite Bay High School. Now she is taking her soccer career to a new level, playing on the United States under-20 women’s’ national team that is currently competing in the World Cup in Chile. “I am incredibly honored to represent the United States in the World Cup,” said Harkin. “The whole experience has been absolutely unbelievable.” Harkin, a defender, is a junior at Arizona State University. She joins top athletes from 17 other universities on the national team. Last week, the team shut out both France and Argentina by identical 3-0 scores. Harkin is waiting for her chance to come off the bench for the national team. “Just being here has marked the fulfillment of a childhood dream,” Harkin said. Previously, she’s had the opportunity to play with her idols Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain. If you were to ask her dad, Paul Harkin how she got here he would say it was a lot of work. “She has been playing soccer since she was four years old,” Paul Harkin said. “There are really few people that are driven enough to want to go to that level.” At Granite Bay Harkin scored 54 goals in her career and she received numerous accolades for her efforts. She was named MVP of the Metro League twice, first Team All-Metro three times, Offensive Player of the Year three times and Placer County Player of the Year. It has not always been an easy ride. Harkin had to sit out a portion of her senior year to rebound from an injury. “It was hard not being able to play,” Harkin said. “In order to come back from an injury requires an incredible degree of strength and self discipline.” Having experienced dealing with injury played a role in Harkin’s selection of an academic focus and helped shape her career goals. Harkin’s major course of study at Arizona State is sports medicine. “It helps me to understand the player's point of view,” she said. One thing that has made all the difference is her support system in Granite Bay where her dad is her biggest fan. Taking a month off from school for the World Cup is especially hard. “It’s been strenuous,” Harkin said. “My father and little brothers have been my strongest source of support. I could not have done all this without them.” “She’s an animal,” Paul Harkin said. “In everything she does. She’s is just so passionate about what she wants to do and she makes it happen.” Harkin’s brothers Kyle and Kevin, and her sister Catherine all played soccer in Granite Bay. Her younger brother Will is currently on the junior varsity team at GBHS. The U.S. National Team plays China in Temuco, Chile on Tuesday. The two wins already earned assure the team a place in the quarterfinal round, with opponents yet to be determined. If everything goes according to plan, she will get back to school right before the semester exams. Then Granite Bay will once again be on her mind. “I am looking forward to going home and relaxing for a few weeks,” said Harkin.