MIAMI, Florida – This Friday at 7:00 PM ET, Concacaf will be airing a re-broadcast of the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship semifinal between Mexico and Canada, followed by the 2018 CUW20 Final between Mexico and the United States. Both matches will be shown on Concacaf’s Facebook and YouTube pages, plus the Concacaf App.
There is perhaps no player who left more of an indelible mark on the 2018 CU20W than Mexico GK Emily Alvarado.
Currently a rising senior on the women’s soccer team at Texas Christian University, Alvarado was Mexico’s penalty shootout hero in the semifinals and Final to help El Tricolor win their first ever CU20W.
“It was honestly such an incredible experience. It was a hard-fought, tough tournament. There were a lot of really good players and a lot of really good teams, but to win the championship the way we did in penalty kicks with such high stakes was one of the most incredible experiences that I have ever had. I definitely hold that championship near and dear to my heart,” said Alvarado in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
Alvarado made two saves in Mexico’s penalty shootout win over Canada in the semifinal and then repeated that feat in the Final against the U.S. For her efforts, she was awarded the Golden Glove and a place in the tournament’s Best XI.
“Winning the Golden Glove has always been one of the personal goals that I have set for myself. The team always comes first and I’d much rather help my team win a championship, but to win a Golden Glove on top of that was like the cherry on top. It was great to close that tournament off and win the award. It was a huge honor,” said Alvarado.
Alvarado also believes Mexico’s 2018 CU20W conquest along with Mexico’s Under-17 Women’s National Team reaching the Final of the 2018 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup has provided a big boost to women’s football in her country.
“I think it was huge for women’s soccer in Mexico. We have the talent, so to take that step forward and show that we’re here to compete and win championships was really huge for us. I feel like it helped lift the level of women’s soccer in Mexico and the younger national teams that we have right now have been doing extremely well. Our Under-17s were second place in the World Cup a few years back, so I feel like it was a catalyst for change in women’s soccer and I feel like it positively impacted us,” said Alvarado.
In the semifinal shootout versus Canada, Mexico found themselves down 3-2 with just two kicks remaining for each team. It was then that Alvarado made two straight saves to facilitate Mexico’s 4-3 victory.
“I just tried to focus on all the hard work and everything that I had learned in the past and put it into action. I just trusted my gut and trusted my ability and tried to make a big play for my team. I don’t think we ever stopped believing that we could win that game. It was such a hard-fought match and I didn’t think there was any way that we could lose it. That was the main motivation,” said Alvarado.
Alvarado then picked up where she left off in the Final against the U.S. by stopping the first and third U.S. penalty kicks as Mexico claimed a 4-2 shootout win.
“I approached it with the same mentality that I had during the Canada game. They were hard-fought matches and when you are in the moment. Shootouts are super stressful for a lot of people, but for me, I just try to focus on my teammates and their words of encouragement and try to do anything I can to get the result and help them out. Penalty kicks are pretty fun in my opinion,” said Alvarado.
History also repeated for Alvarado and some of her teammates, as many of the same Mexico players who took part in the 2018 CU20W also won the 2013 Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship in similar fashion. In both instances, lifting the trophy was the best moment of all.
“It was a fantastic feeling. It was easily one of the best experiences I have had in my life. To go through all of that with my teammates, with my family and my best friends and to come out victorious and see everyone happy and excited, it was a great feeling. It was interesting because we won the Concacaf Under-17 a few years before that in 2013 and also won the semifinals and final in penalty kicks, so it was like déjà vu, which was cool,” said Alvarado.
Taking into account the successes El Tricolor have enjoyed at the youth national team level, Alvarado is optimistic that the future is bright for women’s football in Mexico.
“I feel like we have a lot of really good girls coming up through the pipeline that have the experience and have the drive. It’s just about gaining experience and putting together a team. We have a professional league in Mexico that has been doing very well over the past few years, so I think as that develops, we’ll get a lot of really good quality players out of there, too. I think from here it is all up. We have the players, we have the resources, we just need to put it together and keep putting in the hard work,” concluded Alvarado.