By CHRISTOPHER SHOALS
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former University of Kentucky women’s soccer player Arin Gilliland has achieved her life-long goal of being called up to the United States Women’s National Team, it was announced by U.S Soccer on Thursday. She becomes the first-ever UK player to be called up by the USWNT.
Gilliland will be participating in a camp that features 24 players, including seven defenders. Gilliland joins Abby Dalhkemper, Merritt Mathias, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Casey Short and Emily Sonnett.
“I am above and beyond ecstatic to have the opportunity to come into such a great environment and be able to train and play alongside not just some of the best players in the world, but on the best team in the world,” Gilliland said after receiving the news of her call in. “It’s an honor every single time you get to represent your country, the badge and the National Team, so I am looking forward to what this camp has it store and how I can contribute.”
The US Women’s National Team will play Switzerland in back-to-back matches, in which Gilliland will be on the roster in both. The first of those two matches is Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. ET from Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah live on ESPN2. The second match of the cycle will be Oct. 23 at 1:45 p.m. ET from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota live on Fox Sports 1.
“Our staff has been watching NWSL games this season and these are the ones that stood out,” said Jill Ellis, World Cup winning head coach of the USWNT. “The league is vitally important to create a tremendous competitive environment for these players to show their talents as professionals and we are excited to give them a chance with the National Team.”
The Lexington, Kentucky native has been working all her life to receive this call, and used the Kentucky women’s soccer program as a springboard to her professional success with the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars this season.
In her illustrious four-year career in the Blue and White for the Wildcats, Gilliland played over 7,000 minutes on the field, scored 30 goals, and charted 25 assists for 85 career points. Gilliland set UK records with 278 shots, with 81 of them coming on goal, and a UK-record eight career game-winning goals.
She served as a captain on the two most successful seasons in program history, as the Wildcats went 31-13-2 in her final two years as a leader of the team, helping lead UK to four-straight NCAA Tournaments, four-straight hosting bids, two wins over top-10 teams, the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance, six wins over teams in the top 25, and a 17-3-2 (.818) record when playing at home.
No other player in UK women’s soccer history has ever made more than two all-region teams in their careers before Gilliland earned that honor each season during her four-year stay in Lexington from 2011-2014. The Lexington native who was also the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time All-SEC honoree, scored seven goals and had eight assists in 2014 season, for 22 points as an outside back.
Gilliland also left Lexington with a full trophy case, as she was named All-SEC four times, SEC All-Tournament Team in 2014, the Honda Inspiration Award winner in 2014, seven-time SEC Player of the Week, two-time team captain, two-time MAC Hermann Award finalist, and much more.
Gilliland’s Match Schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 19 – United States vs. Switzerland
Rio Tinto Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah
9 p.m. ET, ESPN2, WatchESPN app
Sunday, Oct. 23 – United States vs. Switzerland
U.S. Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota
1:45 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go