Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 20, 2012

She'll be running for USA

Gunn's Robinson will put track on hold and play for U-17 team

by Keith Peters

When the SCVAL De Anza Division track and field championships are held May 3 at Los Altos High, Gunn sophomore Sarah Robinson will not be in the running for a league title despite being one of the top talents in the Central Coast Section.

Robinson will be running, but not on a track and not in this country.

Robinson will be in Guatamala City, Guatamala, as a member of the U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team that will be competing in soccer's's 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championships that run May 2-12.

Robinson was one of 20 players named to the team last week by head coach Albertin Montoya, who is also Robinson's club coach with the MVLA Lightning in Los Altos.

"I think it's really exciting," said Robinson, who was among an original group of 24.

While the cutoff date to be eligible for the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup is Jan. 1, 1995, Montoya made an exception for the 15-year-old Robinson, who was born in 1996 and is the youngest member of the team.

Montoya named his squad after a 10-day training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, which ended on April 9 with a 0-0 draw against the China U-20 Women's National Team.

Robinson said she wasn't too worried about being cut, not since moved into the starting lineup after just the second training camp.

"We feel we are at a very good place right now going into World Cup qualifying," said Montoya. "The team has made a lot of progress in our last three camps, which have been very productive in helping us prepare to head to Guatemala. We've had talented players since the beginning of the cycle, but the difference now is the ability of these talented players to play as a team, which makes us very dangerous.

"We saw this at our most recent camp, which led to three very good performances against quality teams. Qualifying couldn't have come at a better time for us and the players are excited to showcase their talent at the international level."

Robinson will run for Gunn's track and field team in its final two SCVAL De Anza Division dual meets. The first was Thursday against Palo Alto and the final one will be April 26 at Los Altos.

After that, she'll regroup with her soccer teammates for the trip to Central America in quest of one of CONCACAF's three berths to the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, set for Sept. 22-Oct. 13 in Azerbaijan.

Team USA (7-0-2) will open the qualifying against the Bahamas on May 3, before taking on Trinidad & Tobago on May 5. The Americans will conclude the first round against Mexico on May 7. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals, beginning May 10.

Robinson, a midfielder, said her role on the team is "playmaking and defending well. That's what we focus on, defending as a team."

Robinson has started all the matches she has played in and sees her current experience as a stepping stone to future levels of US Soccer. Yet, she isn't planning on giving up on cross country or track, at least for the time being.

"She still wants to train and run in the meets," said Gunn assistant Ernie Lee. "The meets turn into very good workouts."

Speaking of workouts, Robinson ran the 400 a total of 14 times on Tuesday, running an average of 75 seconds for each one. Then she headed off to club soccer practice.

Lee and Gunn head coach Matt Tompkins knew they'd have to share Robinson at some point.

"It's something we knew going into it," Lee said of the situation. "But, when she's here, it's to the max . . . she' understands the decisions she's made and the consequences . . . the sacrifices.

"It's weird, she's the only one doing homework (on the soccer trips)."

The U.S. Women's Senior National Team, meanwhile, opened a training camp in Bradenton, Fla., on Wednesday. A total of 27 players are taking part in the camp, which runs through April 30 and will serve as preparation for the 2012 Olympics.

The camp allows head coach Pia Sundhage to continue the evaluation process to select the 18-player roster that will travel to London for the Summer Olympics.

Former Stanford All-American Christen Press will be competing in her first senior national training camp. Press, the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, was recently playing in Sweden's top division for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC.

Also attending the camp are former Stanford standouts Nicole Barnhart (goalie), Rachel Buehler (defender) and Kelley O'Hara (defender).

Following a May 27 match against China, the U.S. women will face Canada on June 30 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. This is the final home match for the U.S. before the London Olympics.

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