COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – April 27, 2017 – The U.S. Women’s National Team extends its roster by two names with the welcoming of Erin McCrudden (Putnam Valley, N.Y.) and Carissa Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.). The athletes took a premier path to enter the selection process for the senior level red, white and blue lineup: the U.S. Women's National Development Squad.
"I am very pleased that Erin and Carissa have this opportunity," said Jun Kentwell, U.S. Women's National Development Squad Head Coach. "Both have good technical skills and have been working, along with the other players on the Development Squad, on their vision and early passing. I am sure both will make the most of this opportunity and continue to work hard to earn a place on the national team. Having two players move up to the USWNT is a tremendous incentive for the other players on the Development Squad. They know the door is open and we will be working to give one or two more players the opportunity to move up into Janneke's [USWNT Head Coach] hands."
To account for the transitional phase from the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team to the senior USWNT, the U.S. Women's National Development Squad’s purpose is to nurture the talent of college students. These particular athletes are no longer permitted to be on the U-21 USWNT due to age restrictions but show great promise in field hockey. After much evaluation at the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team trial in mid-January, USWNT Head Coach Janneke Schopman and her staff announced 16-athletes to the Development Squad, two of which were McCrudden and C. Vittese.
"So far I’m very happy with the Development Team and the progress the players are showing there," said Schopman. "They follow a similar program as the U-21 Team and train weekends, playing college teams or some of the men’s (junior) teams. The Development Team gives players the opportunity to learn and grow in a competitive environment with qualified coaches. Erin and Carissa are not the only ones to have benefited from this program so far and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I was at the Duke camp myself and loved the atmosphere that the coaching staff under Jun’s lead has created. It’s a group of young women, not ready to give up their hockey dreams just yet, and excited to play together."
A 2014 University of Virginia alum, C. Vittese joins the USWNT as a solid force in the backfield. From 2009-2010, she was part of Olympic Development Squad and was also a member of the Mid-Atlantic/South Team that won the 2013 Women's National Championship in Norfolk, Va. C. Vittese notes, it took a ton of determination, discipline and hard work to reach this level of play. She tried out for the national team three years ago, and unfortunately did not end up making the team. C. Vittese had so much passion and love for the sport and in turn, couldn't quit. Her persistence and resilience really pushed her to try and be better everyday since 2014. In 2015, C. Vittese extended her hockey career from another angle as the graduate assistant for Temple University’s Field Hockey Program. A USA Field Hockey Futures Program athlete in her younger years, the sport has been a childhood passion she has shared with her two sisters. C. Vittese joins sibling Michelle Vittese as a USWNT athlete.
"Michelle always has some words of wisdom for any endeavor I pursue," said C. Vittese. "She is a great big sister, and has always had my back. My whole life she has been telling me to 'never give up' and 'you can do anything you put your mind to,' and that has always stuck with me. She continues to instill a great amount of confidence in me, and has never stopped believing in my ability which has been so helpful. She has supported me through so much of my life, and I am so grateful. Sisters are the best."
"Carissa has been part of the High Performance environment for a long time and to her credit she didn’t give up on her dream," commented Schopman. "I always knew she was a good enough player, but this year she was more consistent in her performance and showed more understanding of what is needed and expected at this level. With her speed and skills I’m excited to see what she can bring to the team."
C. Vittese would just like to thank Schopman for giving her a chance and giving her the opportunity to play for the U.S. Women's National Team.
"It has always been a dream of mine to play for the U.S. and to represent my country," said C. Vittese. "I feel so honored to be named to the team, and I can't wait to play alongside some of the best players in the country!"
McCrudden will add depth to the USWNT’s midfield, carrying with her four years of strong experience at the University of Louisville. During her senior season as a Cardinal in 2016, her talent was recognized by earning Longstreth/NFHCA All-America Second Team, Longstreth/NFHCA All-West Region First Team and Synapse Sports All-America Second Team. During the same year, she led the Atlantic Coast Conference and second in the nation with 18 assists. Her strong leadership and integrity also warranted the co-captain honor. McCrudden participated in USA Field Hockey’s Futures Program from 2009 through 2012 and made back-to-back year selection for AAU Junior Olympic Games in 2010 and 2011. In 2015, she contended in USA Field Hockey’s Young Women’s National Championship.
For McCrudden, the hunger to always try to be better, the desire to do more and work hard on a regular basis propelled her to the senior national team. Playing off of that, the Development Team gave her more opportunities to train at a high level under Kentwell, while still allowing her to attend school.
"Erin caught my eye during last college season playing for Louisville, based on her performance," mentioned Schopman. "From there, I decided to personally invite her for the USWNT trials and Development Team. In that environment as well as in USWNT training, she showed herself as a player with potential, always working hard and with an understanding about how to play the game. She is also very keen to learn and I am excited to see where her ceiling is."
"I feel an unbelievable level of excitement and pride to be joining the USWNT!" said McCrudden. "To be given this opportunity to wear the red, white and blue is an absolute dream. I'm eager to begin training with such an amazingly talented group of girls."
McCrudden would like to thank her family, past and present teammates, coaches and the University of Louisville for supporting her over my four years as a Cardinal to reach this achievement.
Click here to view the 2017 U.S. Women's National Team Olympic Development Pipeline to better understand the implementation of the U.S. Women's National Development Squad. For more updates on the USWNT program, visit usafieldhockey.com.
Photos Courtesy of Michelle Hutchins, University of Louisville & Virginia Media Relations