COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – December 20, 2018 – U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper Alesha Widdall (Whitney Point, N.Y.) has shared her decision to retire from the senior international squad after seven years and 57 international caps.
“Alesha was a great goalkeeper, the crazier the environment the calmer and composed she would be, excelling when it was needed,” said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach. “Flashy saves were not what she was about, she read the game and did what she had to do, efficient and with great care. In the last years she had to wait for the few opportunities she got, but whether it was World League Round 3 in Spain or the Pan American Cup bronze medal match, she was a good goalkeeper and teammate, I knew as coach I could rely on.”
Widdall, a New York state native, was originally a swimmer much like her immediate family before finding passion in field hockey in middle school. Since then, Widdall has proudly dawned goalkeeper pads for the CNY and Thoroughbreds II field hockey clubs, University of Massachusetts and Team USA.
“I got started playing field hockey because it was something that all of my friends were doing,” said Widdall, regarding how she got started. “I became a goalkeeper because I love diving on the ground and I didn’t love to run, and I just wanted to do something really intense.”
As a Minutewoman, she was a four-time All-Region selection, earned NFHCA All-American honors twice and Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the year in 2011. Widdall also helped guide UMass to four Atlantic 10 Championships and two appearances in the NCAA tournament.
“I chose to play in college because I always wanted to be on the national team and I saw that as an avenue of getting good enough to be on the team,” added Widdall.
Widdall’s Team USA journey began in 2006 when she was named to the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team. In 2008, she was a member of the USA squad that claimed the gold medal at the Junior Pan American Games in Mexico City. She was also a member of the 2009 Junior World Cup team that competed in Boston before being named to the USWNT in 2011.
“Being a part of USA Field Hockey is an honor and something that I’ve always been so proud to represent the United States,” commented Widdall. “To travel to different countries, experience different cultures and play a sport that you love is something that I will always cherish. Even more when you’re around other athletes of different sports that are also part of Team USA, it’s an amazing community and everyone is connected in their aspirations toward representing the United States as best they can.”
Wearing the red, white and blue, Widdall recalls several favorite memories, including playing against Ireland at the 2012 Champions Challenge. It was an atmosphere that she would never forget as her career continued to move forward. In 2013, Widdall helped lead USA to a silver medal at the women’s Pan American Cup in Mendoza, Argentina before a gold medal performance at the 2013 FIH World League Round 2 in London.
She also vividly recalled USA’s world-turning performance at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, The Netherlands. While the team finished fourth in the tournament, it remains as a favorite moment for many USWNT athletes, including Widdall. That goes double for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where she was an alternate athlete.
“The World Cup in Holland in 2014 when the team blew expectations out of the water was an amazing accomplishment,” continued Widdall. “Of course, going to Rio and being with the team during the entire Olympic Games was the highlight of my career, hearing the crowd chant ‘USA, USA USA!’ will forever be embedded in my memory.”
Widdall transitioned from athlete to coach after she joined the coaching staff of Cornell University this past fall. She also acquired her master’s degree in exercise science and rehabilitation from Logan University to add to her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UMass.
“I want to say this amazing journey I had as a USA Field Hockey player would have never been possible without all the support of so many people,” added Widdall. “I want to thank my many coaches, my amazing Whitney Point community, the cheers of fans and young athletes all over the world, all my teammates from every level of competition, my great sponsors, but most of all my family who have been there from day one and will always been there for me. I have been blessed to be able to use my talents in this amazing way and I wish all the best to the U.S. Women’s National Team program.”
USA Field Hockey would like to wish Widdall best of luck in her future endeavors!