At 16, Evangeline Cordell has big goals, and dreams of becoming the U.S. Women's goalkeeper one day.
"Once I set a goal, I don't want to back down from that goal," Cordell said. "I don't want to stop until I either can't go any further or I've made it."
Cordell grew up on the West Coast in Oregon and recently moved to Columbia, Tennessee. She started playing soccer on a recreational team at the age of 7 and has never looked back.
"And once I played, I was like, 'Dude, I'm never going to stop doing this. This is great,'" said Cordell.
So far, she's played soccer in six different states across the country.
"I think there's like this weird amount of freedom that I feel when I'm on the field," Cordell said.
She's had help along the way and has received video mentorships from professional soccer players, including former goalkeeper for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, Hope Solo.
"Hope Solo advised me to be just not only a great goalkeeper, but to be the best athlete," Cordell said. "She said it takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of commitment to make it to where I want to go."
The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup started on Thursday in Australia and New Zealand.
The tournament runs through Aug. 20 and is set to be the biggest women's soccer tournament yet, according to the Olympics.
If the United States wins again this year, it will become the first team in the competition's history to win the tournament three times in a row.
"I've been lucky enough to have people that are so inspiring, especially in what I want to do that want to, you know, mentor and want to give advice," Cordell said.
Goalkeeping is the toughest position on the 11-player team, and arguably one of the most dangerous positions because of how often players hit the ground and goal posts.
"It's a very challenging position," Cordell said. "And I think that's part of what I love so much about it, is that it's a constant fight."
The goalkeeper is seen as the last player in the line of defense.
"You have a lot of responsibility in the position," Cordell said. "I just really loved being able to be somebody that my teammates could rely on.
Besides her teammates and mentors, Cordell says her faith has been a key driving force in her success.
"It's the number one part of my life," Cordell said. "It goes into everything that I do."
She said she finds comfort in prayer and reading the Bible.
"Being able to open my Bible and read anything from it is an inspiration and what I live by as a whole," Cordell said.
Cordell has been invited to play soccer in Spain at the end of the year through Tennessee's Olympic Development Program — a program that provides opportunities for soccer players and helps them progress. The friendly matches will take place in December. Cordell has started a GoFundMe to help cover expenses.
"I'm really excited because I haven't gotten to play a team from outside of the U.S. yet," Cordell said. "I'm excited to get to see just their style and like, I expect it to be an entirely different style of play."
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