Former Pepperdine Star Woods ponders future in sport
Feb. 10, 2006
San Diego, Calif. -
By: SIMON SAMANO - Staff Writer
Back in November, the Pepperdine women's soccer team lost 6-0 to No. 2 North Carolina in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Just like that, Waves senior forward Megan Woods had arrived at a crossroad.
The defeat signaled the end of an illustrious collegiate career for Woods, a former La Costa Canyon High standout who led the Mavericks to back-to-back CIF Division I titles and was named 2002 CIF player of the year. Ever since the Waves' sensational season concluded, the wheels have been turning in Woods' mind as she decides whether or not to pursue a soccer career.
Looking at Woods' accomplishments during her four-year career at Pepperdine makes the decision seem like a no-brainer.
She is second on the school's all-time lists in points (85) and goals (31) and is tied for second in assists (33). In 2005, Woods was named first team All-West Coast Conference and made the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas and Soccer Buzz's All-American third teams after leading the Waves to a 15-4-3 record and the school's second Sweet 16 appearance.
"What makes Megan great is that she has so many intangibles," Pepperdine coach Tim Ward said. "I think the thing that separates Megan from most girls is that the bigger the game ever was for us, the bigger Megan would play. She's one of those few players that I've coached in my 12-year career that when we played a massive opponent ---- some of these top-ranked teams in the country ---- you could always bet that Megan would be at her very best."
The accolades, the acclaim beg only one question: What's making the decision so tough?
"I guess the focus right now is on finishing school and then kind of figuring it out from there," Woods said. "For now, I think it's important for me to keep myself distracted and busy with other things that maybe I hadn't had time to pursue before."
Woods' decision seemed to have gotten a push in favor of soccer two weeks ago. She was one of 30 collegiate players called up to the United States Under-21 women's national team training camp that took place Jan. 14-21 at the Home Depot Center in Carson. The invitation was not to be taken lightly, as the Under-21 coaching staff was evaluating talent to compose a roster for this summer's Nordic Cup, the top competition at that age level.
"It felt complimenting that I would be placed in that caliber of players because I hadn't expected it at all," said Woods, who received the call two weeks prior to camp. "That wasn't something that I thought was obtainable for me. It was a really nice compliment to be thought of and to play with those girls."
Making the U.S. Under-21 national team could put Woods on track to pursue more with the women's national team. She made the most of the opportunity to impress the coaching staff at the camp, which was composed mostly of scrimmages rather than drills. Ward went out to camp one day to watch Woods compete and said he felt she was "the most dangerous player on the field."
But Woods is really focused on other things right now ---- namely graduating in the spring.
"I think it would be awesome to be able to play in the Nordic Cup," Woods said. "I would love the opportunity to travel over there and represent the country. But we'll see what happens, basically. I guess that's kind of my mentality at this point because it's out of my control. I went and did the best I could."
The U.S. Under-21 coaching staff will call players back for a few more camps before deciding on a roster. But Woods won't stress about whether or not she is among the chosen ones. Instead, she will continue to enjoy her final semester in college free of commitments other than class. Soccer will remain secondary for now.
But what if Woods put soccer on the shelf permanently? Might she regret it?
"I do think she may look back and wonder 'What if?' because she has the ability," Ward said. "A lot of people dream about that and don't have the ability; they've just sort of reached the pinnacle of their career. But Megan is the kind of player that could have a really successful career at the next level.
"The only question is whether or not Megan desires that, because she definitely has the talent."
The soccer report runs every Tuesday. Contact staff writer Simon Samano at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or story suggestions. To comment, go to nctimes.com.