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Tierna Davidson: From PDP to USWNT

Note: This is the second in a series of features profiling former NorCal Premier Soccer Player Development Program players who have moved onto playing at the next level. Read the first here

NorCal Premier Soccer’s Player Development Program was in just its beginning stages when current Stanford and U.S. Women’s National Team defender Tierna Davidson was first identified as a standout player in Northern California.

And though she began on the program’s fringes, the 19-year-old credited her time in the free-of-cost program for helping her develop into player she is now — winner of eight caps and a legitimate shot to earn a spot on next summer’s World Cup team in France.

“I remember that when I first started going, it was kind of in the earlier stages,” Davidson said of the PDP. “It was first trying to get developed, finding the coaches, finding the rhythm of what it was going to look like and I believe that we were one of the first teams to go to a tournament. We went to a Las Vegas showcase and now I see on social media that people are doing bigger and better things now.”

Though the program may have improved, Davidson found value in its ability to gather some of the top players from around the area and feature high-level trainings, even if some of her peers were her De Anza Force teammates.

“Being able to get together with the top players from the area was really helpful to be able to participate in some drills and some scrimmages that were of a higher level, higher speed and required more thinking, more pace, that was just really helpful to be able to hone your skills in that way because you could be at your club and be thriving and be doing really well and then go to an environment in which the pace was a lot higher and you have to think quicker and realize, ‘oh, I still need to work on these things a little bit more,’” Davidson said. “And also, to be able to get coaching from other coaches who were also phenomenal and to get to know them and build those relationships and learn a couple of new things from them as well was fantastic.”

Playing in the program for roughly five years, Davidson saw herself grow from a decently-skilled left winger to a truly world-class player in the center of the park — the center back also credited club coach Andres Deza with helping her grow into the player and person she is now.

With multiple offers coming out of high school, Davidson really had her pick of the litter in terms of colleges.

“I actually wanted to get out of California and I wanted to go somewhere different because I thought I might come back to California to live or to get a job so I wanted to go somewhere different in the United States, but then Andres said he really wanted me to look at Stanford because he knew both what I wanted to do academically and athletically,” Davidson said. “Despite the original freshman/sophomore me thinking that I wasn’t going to stay close, I ended up staying 10 minutes away from home.”

From there, Davidson has thrived, starting 46 games for the Cardinal, and leading the program’s 2017 team to its second-ever national title thanks to a 3-2 victory over UCLA.

The then national team came calling, and Davidson has featured as one of the USWNT’s only college players since making her debut in January.

According to Davidson, being part of a regional selection in PDP has helped her transition to the international game in the way that both squads were essentially an all-star group of players rounded up and given little time to train before participating in matches.

“There definitely are the similarities in the fact that you’ll go to a camp and you’ll see one forward that you have to defend and say, ‘oh man, that’s a tough forward,’ or a midfielder that’s super crafty,” she said. “That was the same when I was playing club that we might have been a team that ended up winning a lot of games, but there were always those couple of players from clubs where you were like, ‘that player is a really decent player. I’d love to get to play with her more, or learn from her more.’

“In that sense, it’s kind of similar where you get to meet and interact and learn and play against some players that you wouldn’t get to interact with as much,” she added.

While the undeclared sophomore has yet to decide what she’d like to do for a long-term career, soccer is clearly on her mind at the moment.

“For me, I would like to ride out what soccer has in store for me because in the grand scheme of life, this is a very short period where I can do this,” Davidson said. “I’m not going to be able to be playing soccer when I’m 55 so I would like to take advantage of the time when my body can do this and I have the flexibility to travel to places and to kind of experience more of a mobile lifestyle, but after that, I definitely do want to have a career in the professional working world, wherever that may be.”

As far as that soccer career has to say, though, Davidson certainly has some lofty, but attainable, goals.

“The typical ultimate goal is to play with the full team, to be on the full team,” Davidson said. “I’m getting my foot in the door,  I’m doing the best that I can to make that dream a reality, but honestly, to be an influential and steadfast player in this program would really be a dream come true.”

“I see that the [2019] World Cup could be an option for me if I continue to work on the places that I need to get better at and continue to hone in on my strengths,” she added. “I think that I can realistically put that as a goal for me.”