• Friday Jan 17, 2014

    Purce keeps soccer, academic demands in balance

    United States under-20 women's standout Margaret Purce (pictured) is as talented in the classroom as she is on the soccer field. (Photo: Mexsport)


    GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- Margaret Purce wears many hats.

    She is a student and an athlete, balancing both with Zen-like harmony as a freshman at Harvard University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States.

    At Harvard, she was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year, the first time that’s been accomplished.

    And, currently, Purce is in the Cayman Islands as a member of the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team that is one win away from booking its ticket to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

    “It would mean my goal is met, one of them,” Purce said of the possibility of competing in the World Cup.  “It doesn’t stop with anyone making the team after qualifying.  The number one goal in mind is to win.  It would be amazing.”

    Purce has been down that road before, helping the U.S. win the 2012 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala, appearing in three games.  She competed in the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, where the United States failed to advance out of the Group Stage.

    It’s a disappointment that’s fueled the Silver Springs, Maryland, native ever since.

    “That was a heartbreaker, but it really does give you more drive and motivation to do it right this time,” Purce commented.

    Purce, 18, made history when she was chosen as part of this year’s United States qualifying roster. She’s the first player from Harvard to do so.

    It’s fitting because Purce, who goes by the nickname “Midge,” made history at Harvard.

    The forward had a spectacular freshman year, topping the Ivy League in shots and tying for the lead in goals with 11.  Her performances led to unprecedented recognition.

     “It was a tremendous honor,” Purce said.  “I was really excited.  No one ever gets anything like that without an amazing team.  I felt it was more of a team award.  The girls were absolutely fantastic the entire season.”

    With her combination of soccer skills and smarts, Purce had her share of college suitors.  But there was an immediate comfort level with Harvard.

    “Harvard fit me,” Purce said.  “You hear a lot of people say they went to a school because they liked it, but I liked the fit of Harvard.  I enjoyed all the girls there and all the people who are around there.  I enjoy the academics and I love their soccer program. It’s a great place to be.”

    As for balancing the rigorous course load of an Ivy League institution while playing high-level college soccer, Purce said it’s just a matter of keeping focused on her goals.

    “It’s balancing your priorities and you just have to keep your mind on what you want to achieve and what you want to do,” she said.

    Fortunately for Purce, she has a week to decompress before the next semester starts at Harvard.

    “I’m one of the lucky ones,” she said. 

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