By: Ryan Syrkus
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Every athlete dreams of representing their country in international competition. That dream has become a reality for Florida State junior Kassey Kallman. The twenty-year-old was selected to compete with the USA U-20 team as they travel to Japan for the World Cup which runs August 19-September 8.
“This is my first time playing for the U.S. so putting on that jersey was just incredible being able to represent your country,” said Kallman. “Everyone has the same goal in mind that they want to win a World Cup.”
Even with the bigger stage ahead of her, Kallman hopes to use her past experiences at FSU to her advantage looking forward.
“What I’ve learned the most out of college and being in the NCAA Tournament is playing under pressure,” Kallman said. “When you get in those games it’s either win or you’re done. We definitely have really high expectations at FSU so if we don’t win it’s a big disappointment.”
Kallman started all five games, playing every minute of each match, at the CONCACAF Tournament in Panama en route to clinching a berth in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The Woodbury, Minn., native served as the team captain in their final match of pool play against Panama, winning the game 6-0. The U.S. team won the tournament title, outscoring the opposition 24-1.
With the U.S. team going against stiff competition in the upcoming tournament, Kallman still believes they have a shot at winning it all.
“We defiantly have our eye on the prize,” said Kallman on the team’s expectations. “We feel like if we play the way we want to then we can win the World Cup. We just got to keep training hard and not let other teams dictate how we play.”
Kallman has been a standout on defense for Florida State since her arrival in 2010 and was the only true freshman to start every game during the regular season and NCAA Tournament that year. She was ranked as high as 28 on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Top 100 Freshmen for 2010. During her freshman campaign, Kallman managed to make the All-ACC Freshman Team as well as the All-ACC Second Team. She was also named to the Soccer America Freshman All-American First Team and the TopDrawerSoccer.com All-Rookie Second Team in 2010.
Her dominance continued in the 2011 season as she led all Seminoles in minutes played with 2,378, playing every minute of every game. That same season Kallman posted 11 shots with eight of them on goal for a .727 shots on goal percentage, the highest of any player with at least 20 starts. Kallman also scored two game winning goals, one against New Mexico in a 1-0 victory and the other coming in the NCAA Tournament over Louisville.
Kallman aims to bring some of her experiences of the World Cup back to Florida State heading into next season.
“I’m going to hopefully bring everything that I’ve learned over the last year and a half [with the U-20 team],” Kallman said. “We’ve had great coaches on the USA team. All the lessons they’ve taught me and the speed of play from that team I hope to bring back to FSU and hopefully raise the level even more just so we can get to the next level and win a national championship.”
The U-20 soccer team is open to any athlete born on or after January 1, 1992. The team was originally created as an Under-18 program in 1998 before expanding to a U-19 in 2001 and eventually becoming U-20 in 2005.
The U.S. National Team has two previous U-20 World Cup titles in 2002 and 2008. The United States will open play against Ghana on August 20 at 4 p.m. local time (3 a.m. EST) at Big Arch Stadium in Hiroshima, Japan. The Americans will then face China PR on August 23, also in Hiroshima, followed by a matchup against Germany at Miyagi Stadium in Rifu, Japan on August 27.