• Saturday Jan 18, 2014

    U-20 WC berth sealed, Samarzich aims for more

    Mexico's Tanya Samarzich (pictured) has been a standout at many of the confederation's competitions, including the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)


    GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands --- Mexico’s Tanya Samarzich has set herself solid life goals.

    And, already, they have begun to take shape at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.

    Six goals on a pair of hat-tricks have made the striker a goalscoring sensation in picturesque Cayman Islands, helping to power the Tricolor to a berth in the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and a spot in Sunday’s final against the United States.

    She had her first three-goal performance on January 10, when Mexico defeated the host nation 6-0 in the tournament opener for each.

    Two days later, Samarzich netted another superb trio – this time as a second-half substitute -- in a 10-1 win over Honduras.

    Though the 19-year-old appreciates her success and that of the team’s in the competition thus far, she has already cast her eyes far beyond the sandy shores of this tropical paradise.

    The University of Southern California freshman has long decided that a professional playing career is among the mouthwatering prospects that await her down the road.

    “I want to try and make into the women’s professional league in the U.S., but what I know for sure is that I want to continue playing soccer my whole life,” she told CONCACAF.com, after helping her country rally to defeat Costa Rica 3-1 in the semifinal curtain-raiser on Friday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

    Academia, too, is a top priority for the affable Samarzich, but she was quick to confess that “I am undecided” as to her course of study.

    Despite not getting on the scoresheet against Costa Rica on Friday, the California native was overjoyed that her team won the match, especially after falling behind in the 17th minute.

    “No, I am disappointed that I didn’t score,” she said beaming from ear to ear.  “I am just happy that my team won today and I am just looking forward to the next game and to give 100 percent.”

    While one objective has been realized with a World Cup ticket booked, Samarzich is hungry for more.

    “If we were to leave here as champions, that would be like the greatest thing for me,” she expressed.  “I have played with the Mexican team at U17 and U20, and I have never won a championship with them, so yes that’s one of my goals coming here.”

    Samarzich knows, however, that if the Mexican team is to leave the Caribbean on top, it will have to step up its game.

    “I just believe that my team can work harder, and we just have to work as hard as we can in the next game and do whatever it takes to win,” she charged.

    Assessing the 11-day championship that will ultimately qualify three teams for Canada 2014, Samarzich summed it up this way: “I think the other teams are good competition for us, and, as you saw today, that Costa Rica gave us good competition.”

    Where does this football-mad young woman get her inspiration for the game?

    “I always looked up to my aunt (Catherine Warren), who passed away as I was very close to her, so I

    always go out and play for her,” she shared.

    The U.S.-born Samarzich is qualified to pull on the famous green jersey by virtue of her mother, who is from Mexico.

    “My mom was born in Mexico, which gave me dual citizenship, but my father was born in Serbia, so I am like Mexican-Serbian American,” Samarzich said, breaking out into laughter.

    Her father is Ivan and mother is Coco.  She has four siblings --- Ivan, Alex, Nadia and Erika.

    NOTES: At six goals each, Samarzich is even with the United States’ McKenzie Meehan as the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship top scorer … Samarzich scored three goals at the 2012 edition of the competition and is tied for fourth on the all-time scoring list with nine career strikes.

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