Pictured Above: (L-R) Heather Gilchrist, Jordynn Dudley, DanielleDavis, GracieFalla.
Gracie Falla isn’t taking it easy in the offseason. The sophomore defender on South Carolina’s women’s soccer team capped her second season with the Gamecocks last fall by being named the SEC Defender of the Year, and she was recently named to the 24-player roster for the United States Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team.
“It was super exciting to have that opportunity,” said Falla, who traveled to Carson, California, for the U.S. U-20 team’s first training camp of the year on January 15-22. “I’ve grown up looking up to some of the girls who I had a chance to spend a whole week with. It was a great opportunity to get to play with them and get to know them. I’ve played against some of them before. Hopefully, I get a chance later on to play international games with them.”
The January training camp was the first step toward the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Colombia next September.
“We had four training days, and then we had an intrasquad game, and then we played a local boys team,” Falla said. “We trained everyday and had a lot of meetings. We learned a lot about positioning and trying to build your game as much as you can. It was a busy week, and I learned a lot. I was a little nervous at first, coming into a new environment, but I’m glad I went.”
There will be several other training camp opportunities over the next several months, and Falla hopes she has the opportunity to wear the U.S.A. uniform in the future.
“It would be so awesome and overwhelming,” Falla said. “There are a lot of emotions that go into it. I grew up watching all these older girls and people you look up to, playing for U.S.A., so it would be pretty cool to be able to represent the crest.”
As the top defender in the SEC, Falla was a big part of South Carolina’s success. Despite being the youngest member of the Gamecocks’ backline, she played the full 90 minutes in 14 of 21 games. She also provided some offensive punch, scoring a pair of game-winning goals against Texas A&M and Georgia. She noted that this experience with the U.S. U-20 National Team will help in her collegiate career.
“I learned so much about my individual efforts, and I think it will help other people around me, too,” Falla said.
The Gamecocks went 12-3-6 last year and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Falla has her sights set on…