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Global Oct 28, 2014

Loudoun, VCU alum Lauryn Hutchinson stars for upstart Trinidad & Tobago WNT

CHESTER, Pa. — As Trinidad & Tobago made their underdog run to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, a product of Loudoun Soccer, Dominion High School and Virginia Commonwealth University played a key role for her country.

Lauryn Hutchinson helped anchor the Soca Princesses’ surprising run, many years after she learned the game with Loudoun Soccer while growing up in Sterling, Va. She later made her way to VCU, with her first international call-up coming in 2011 for the Pan-American Games.

+READ: Trinidad & Tobago WNT, Kennya Cordner marching toward Women’s World Cup

Having been coached by Randy May as a star with the Loudoun Hotshots — now known as Loudoun 90G Red — Hutchinson came up through the ranks of youth soccer in Virginia and is now being talked about across the region.

She capped her impressive tournament by netting the equalizer against Costa Rica in the semifinals at PPL Park. And though the Central American side would eventually defeat T&T in an agonizing penalty-kick shootout, her team’s Women’s World Cup dreams are still alive as they now look ahead to an intercontinental playoff against Ecuador in November and December.

“It’s amazing,” she told reporters after T&T’s loss to Costa Rica. “My Dad has a connection to Trinidad & Tobago, and three years ago, they gave me the opportunity to come out and play. It’s amazing.

“The fact that we can come out and play in the U.S. was great for me because I get to go and represent both my families – my heritage and where I grew up. It’s been absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

For RaeAnn Taylor, Loudoun’s director of girls player development for Under-9 to U-12 travel soccer, Hutchinson’s rise has been hugely impressive to watch, especially with her team now just two games away from the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

+READ: Trinidad & Tobago WNT overcoming major hardship on WWC quest: ‘When our feet give out, we are going to play with our hearts’

“It’s very exciting,” Taylor told by telephone. “You want them to be able to do it, but to have somebody make it that far is exciting, because it takes a lot of pieces coming together, not just playing ability but the mental side, their character, their commitment, determination.

Lauryn Hutchinson with dad“It’s not easy to go all the way at that level, so we’re proud of her. It’s definitely going to be a challenge [playing at more than 9,000 feet above sea level in Ecuador], but they already did a great job in the semifinals and final. They had tremendous support at the game. I happened to be sitting right in front of the T&T parents section, and the energy they generated and the cheering was really exciting.”

Hutchinson went on to play four seasons for the Rams where she contributed greatly as a bench optionand occasional starter. In the 2010 season, she appeared in every single game for VCU and scored goals against Delaware and Drexel.

The highlight of her return to the United States for the CONCACAF tournament was playing at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. last week against Honduras.

Trinidad & Tobago won 2-1, with Hutchinson starting and playing the full 90 minutes in front of a crowd filled with Loudoun and VCU players, as well as members of her family on hand to support her.

“It was a great environment [at RFK],” Taylor said. “I’m super proud of her, one of the big things at the game on Monday was just how gracious she was. After her win, when the U.S. was playing, the Trinidad & Tobago team came up to the stands and said hello to their families and everybody, and there were a lot of players crowding around her wanting to meet her and get their picture taken with her.

“She just kept taking the time, and it was really neat to see someone that grew up in this area, who looked up to all these players that played in national teams, just being super gracious and great to the young players. She’s a fantastic role model. She came down to talk to us, we told a few players where she was from, and they were lining up to get pictures with her, and it was great.

“You work hard with these girls, do everything you can to develop them and get them to reach their top potential, and to see one make it at that level is just really exciting.”

+READ: Florida youth coach goes from Discovery Cup to CONCACAF Women’s Championship in one-week span

Hutchinson retained a strong connection with Loudoun Soccer even as her international and college careers took off. Having helped the Hotshots reach the semifinals of the Virginia State Cup in four consecutive seasons, she also helped deliver a great deal of success to the program, and has already promised to come back and share her experiences with those players currently with Loudoun.

loudounsoccer“She just promised me that when she gets back from playing, she’ll be over at Loudoun Soccer Park,” Taylor said. “She said she’ll definitely come out and see the younger players. We’ll definitely have her out there signing autographs and connecting with the community.

“We’re really fortunate, not just with Lauryn, but we have a whole lot of players right now that are playing in top-level colleges, and they too are just amazingly gracious when they come back on breaks. They come and play pickup with the girls, they come out and see them and show up to games and … our younger players realize that these are the same players that came through the program they are in.

“You dream of doing that, but to know that people have been on the same path that you’re on and have made it, it’s pretty exciting.”