United Soccer Alliance Girls DA U-19 standout Lia Godfrey was named the U.S. Soccer, Girls Development Academy East Region “Player of the Year” and to the GDA “Top 11” for 2019. The Clay County player had an outstanding year with 19 goals and 16 assists in 21 games and led her team to the national final four in June. Lia has also been called in to the US U-20 National team camp that will take place August 24 through September 1st in Chula Vista, California.
Shown here presenting her coaches Luis Torres and Wale Leyimu with her 2016 FIFA U-17 World Cup Jersey, at that event Godfrey became the youngest player to play in a World Cup for the United States when she took the field as a 14 year old that November in Amman, Jordan. Godfrey took the record of youngest player from one of her idols and former Clay County Sol player Morgan Brian who was 15 when she played in the 2010 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“We will proudly display this jersey at the club as it is a tribute to Lia’s talent and hard work and her commitment to the game, to our club. Having had the opportunity to have coached the two youngest World Cup players for the US is truly a blessing and a testament to our commitment to development, they are both very special players and even more important they are both amazing young women. I truly believe that Lia is one of be the best players in the United States,” said Luis Torres, Lia’s coach and GDA director.
“To me, Lia is the epitome of the complete modern player. She uniquely combines technical speed with aggression and an uncanny ability to make the decisive final pass.” Ultimately Lia’s greatest asset is being the absolute team player, She wants nothing more than to see her teammates succeed, and whatever she can do to help, be it an assist, a goal or a word of encouragement, she will do so. Her humility makes her easy to love and keeps her grounded through the tough times and the best times. added her coach and trainer Walé Leyimu.
Lia credits her teammates, coaches, trainers and her parents for being the player she is and she is also very grateful for the time and work that PT Allen Weiss and his staff have put in with her during her recovery from an ACL injury.
Pictures left to right: Lia at a U-17 National Camp, Lia presenting her U-17 World Cup Jersey to coaches Luis Torres and Wale Leyimu, Lia playing against Morgan Brian in a late night pick-up game.
INTERVIEW WITH LIA GODFREY
Q: What does it mean to you to have been named “player of the year”?
A: “I was honestly not expecting it, it was a huge surprise and it is a big honor”.
Q: How did you find out?
A: I woke up to a bunch of messages in our teams group chat that morning, I didn’t know what they were talking about at first and then I looked it up.
Q: What did becoming the youngest player to play in a World Cup mean to you?
A: “I didn’t realize it at the time and when I found out I was amazed and thought it was a huge honor”. “I broke Morgan’s record” she says apologetically as she smiles.
Q: I have noticed a difference in your game this year, what do you think is the biggest change in your game?
A: I am taking more risks and playing more physically, I think that working with Allen Weiss and his staff at Preferred Physical Therapy and the PSP stuff has made me stronger and given me more confidence.
Q: You were just called back in to the next U.S. U-20 National Team camp, what are you hoping they see from you there?
A: I hope that they see that I am 100% recovered and that I get a chance to show them that I’m back.
Q: What did you think of the World Cup this year?
A: It was really fun to watch and I think that the women’s game is really evolving. I think the gap is closing and the other countries are catching up to the US.
Q: Does watching the World Cup inspire you someday reach that goal?
A: I would really love the opportunity to play on that team and experience that, to have that opportunity would be an incredible honor.
Q: What are some of your future goals and aspirations?
A: I would love to do well and make the U.S. U-20 team for the World Cup.
I also want to return to the GDA playoffs with my teammates and make it to the finals.
Q: You came back from a pretty serious ACL injury, what was that like, and what was the hardest part?
A: It was very difficult at first, knowing I was going to be out for almost a year. However, I wanted to get back out onto to the field with my teammates so badly, so I continued to work harder and push myself throughout my physical therapy. They hardest part was regaining my confidence while I was beginning to come back because I was so nervous about getting injured again. My surgeon, Doctor Sparks deserves a lot of credit for getting me back as soon as I did.
Q: The one thing in commonIn all of the great players I’ve coached has been a very supporting family. What do your parents and brother Garret think about your success and how have they helped or supported you?
A: My family is very proud of me and has always helped me with anything that I do. My mom and dad have never pressured me into doing anything and were always supportive of what I wanted to do. My twin brother, Garret is a huge reason as to why I am where I am today. Because of him, I am a more competitive and driven person.
Q: You have been at our club from the time you started at 4 years old,what is it about this environment and club that has kept you here and has helped develop you?
A: We play in a super competitive environment where nobody wants to lose and we win the ball back as soon as we lose it. That competitiveness makes each of us better. We also play in tight spaces and play a lot of 1v1 which overall, improves our technical abilities and drives our competitiveness. Furthermore, my teammates are the best in the world and playing with them and having fun, is what makes me a better player.
Q: What message would you like to send to all of the younger players at our club and in the DA?
A: Just be yourself and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals or that you cannot accomplish something. Also know that it is ok to make mistakes because that is how you get better. One final and important thing is, to stay humble.