Gateway’s Neundorfer invited to ODP Interregional soccer showcase
Maddy Neundorfer has soccer on her mind pretty much throughout the entire year.
The 16-year-old Monroeville resident and junior on the Gateway girls soccer team is rated as one of the top goalkeepers for her age group in the country.
As a member of the U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program, Neundorfer has had the opportunity to play with and against some of the top players at national and international tournaments and showcases.
As she prepares to take on the high school season with her Gateway teammates, she also is looking forward to a return to Boca Raton, Fla., over Thanksgiving weekend for play at the ODP Interregional showcase.
She is one of 18 players in the combined 2001/2002 age group to survive the final selection process at the USYS Region 1 identification camp last month at Rider University in New Jersey.
“It’s a great feeling to be selected for this team,” Neundorfer said. “There are so many amazing players who are at the camp each year.”
The selection process begins with members of state associations -- in Neundorfer’s case, PA West -- who are invited to the Region 1 camp. The region features the top players from Maine to Virginia.
From there, the top 30 to 40 are selected to an ID pool, and from that ID pool, the 18-player roster for Boca Raton is formed.
The Region 1 team will face the ODP program’s other three regions in matches in front of hundreds of college coaches and scouts.
A couple of weeks later, the 18 selected for Boca Raton will join the other players in the Region 1 ID pool for a three-day training session that will determine which 18 will team up for international competition in Germany in April.
Neundorfer, who starting playing soccer at age 3 and first joined a competitive team when she was 6, moved to Pittsburgh three years ago from Maine where she already was deeply involved in the ODP program.
The ODP program groups the two highest age levels, Neundorfer said, in order to develop the most competitive atmosphere for matches.
She traveled to Costa Rica in March with a strictly 2002 team. Opponents in Costa Rica included those ages 20 and older, professionals and those who have played on the Costa Rican women’s national team.
“We really got a good look at their style of play,” Neundorfer said. “It was a great learning experience going up against such talented players.”
Neundorfer, a Duquesne commit, wasn’t the only PA West player to make the Region 1 Costa Rica team.
Joining her on the squad was Megan Donnelly, a Pine-Richland sophomore forward who helped the Rams to a 16-2-1 record in 2017 and the WPIAL quarterfinals in Class 4A.
Also a teammate was Emily Yaple, a junior on last fall’s District 10 Class 3A champion Villa Maria team that advanced to the PIAA semifinals. Yaple has committed to Pitt.
Neundorfer played this spring and summer for Century V United 16U, a 2002 team that represented PA West at the U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional in June.
Century V went 1-2 in its pool. It posted a 1-0 victory and only allowed four goals in three games.
Emma Bundy, a junior at North Allegheny who also has committed to Duquesne, was a teammate of Neundorfer’s on that Century V squad.
“Maddy has grown a ton as a leader and continues to show a great work ethic,” said Sasa Miskovic, Neundorfer’s goalkeeper coach and an assistant with Century V United.
“From the first time I worked with her, one of the biggest things she has improved on is her decision making, when to come out of the goal and make a challenge and what to do in order to make a save. She has developed a pretty complete skill set.”
Neundorfer will join her Century V teammates for showcase events in Florida and North Carolina after the Boca Raton trip.
Preseason practices for high school fall sports in the WPIAL began Monday, and Neundorfer said she is excited for the prospects of a Gateway team that is hoping to improve on last year’s 5-10-3 overall record.
“I think we can have a pretty good season,” said Neundorfer, who challenged for varsity playing time as a freshman and was a full-time starter last year.
“We have a number of good younger players coming up that are going to help the team, and we have some returning sophomores who are going to be big contributors, too.”
Gators coach Kelly Bender likes what she sees from Neundorfer, a two-year letterwinner, heading into the season.
“She is definitely a physical player, and she also is fearless, which is what you need in a good goalkeeper,” Bender said.
“A big thing is her work ethic. You know she is going to give you 100 percent, whether it’s in games or in practice. She’s always looking to get better.”