Stanford sophomore Tierna Davidson is one of the best young soccer players, not only in college, but in the country. In February, the Menlo Park, Calif., native earned another call-up to the United States National Women’s Soccer Team. Davidson joined former Cardinal Andi Sullivan, Jane Campbell, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press on the 26-player squad for the SheBelieves Cup, a round-robin tournament featuring No. 1 United States, No. 2 Germany, No. 3 England and No. 6 France. Davidson, one of only two college players on the team (along with Hailie Mace of UCLA) didn’t just join the team, she started and went the distance in all three games.
Davidson earned her first senior cap on Jan. 21 when the United States faced Denmark in San Diego.
The defender/midfielder helped lead Stanford to an NCAA national championship this past season as the Cardinal defeated UCLA in the finals 3-2. Davidson was named the 2017 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player and made the 2017 College Cup All-Tournament team.
After a successful high school and club career, why did you pick Stanford?
“Originally I wanted to go experience something different but my club coach really encouraged me to consider Stanford. He just felt like it would be a good fit for me both athletically and academically. It came down to Stanford and Notre Dame, which was probably my second choice. Two very different schools but two stellar schools.”
What set Stanford apart?
“I really liked the environment here. I liked what the school could do for me in my future. A Stanford degree really means a lot. I also appreciate that my parents can easily come and watch me play and that means a lot. I like that they can get to know my teammates and their parents and be a big part of this team.”
You started right away and were a key member of the team from the moment you arrived. What was the transition like from high school to college soccer?
“Coach (Paul Ratcliffe) did talk to me about how I could have an immediate impact if I proved myself in the preseason because there was a need for a player like me and could end up playing significant minutes. Of course, I wondered if that’s what he says to every player. I didn’t go in with any expectations but worked hard and luckily they play a similar style that my club played and I think that helped prepare me. I was comfortable with the players and the style and the dynamic.”
Your first game wearing the Stanford jersey was against UC Davis at home. What was it like wearing the Cardinal red?
“I was so nervous. But once it started and I got a few touches I was able to relax. And after just a few games I felt pretty comfortable out there.”
What was it like when the clock hit zero and you realized you were National Champions?
“It was unbelievable. We started celebrating and a player came running on the field with the trophy and I remember thinking is this really happening. It’s a special feeling to end your season with a win because only one team does that and it means you are national champions.”
What was your experience like playing with the U.S. Women’s National Team in the SheBelieves Cup?
“That was a crazy ride. I played earlier with them in a friendly against Denmark but I knew these games would be much harder. It was better competition and a lot more on the line. It was a fantastic experience to not only start all three games but play all 90 minutes.”
- Davidson is a 2016 graduate of Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, Calif., where she captained the high school team in 2014-15 and 2015-16. She was a two-time Central Coast Section (CCS) champion (2013-14, 2014-15) and CCS runner-up in 2015-16. Davidson was San Mateo Daily Journal Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year in 2014-15 and was a two-time West Bay Athletic League champion (2013-14, 2014-15).
- Davidson has earned spots on national teams ever since being invited to the U-18 camps in 2014. She went to U-19 Women’s National Team Camps in June 2016 (Auckland, New Zealand); and May 2016 (Chula Vista, CA). She also attended U-20 Women’s National Team Camps in 2015 (Carson, CA); Nov. 2015 (Houston, Texas); Sept. 2015 (San Pedro Sula, Honduras); and Dec. 2015 (San Pedro Sula, Honduras).
- Davidson didn’t waste any time making an impact as a freshman. As soon as she stepped on the campus in Palo Alto, she stepped into the starting lineup and shined along the Cardinal back line. She was All-Pac-12 Second Team; Pac-12 All-Freshman Team; and TopDrawerSoccer Freshman Best XI First Team after making her college debut at Navy, starting at midfielder. She scored the first goal of her collegiate career against No. 10 Minnesota.
- Davidson enjoyed an incredible sophomore season at Stanford in 2017. Among her honors: College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player; College Cup All-Tournament team; Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year; TopDrawerSoccer Best XI first team; MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist; All-Pac-12 First Team selection; and 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
- This past season at Stanford, Davidson started all 25 games – played as a midfielder in Stanford’s first three games before moving to center back. She played nearly every minute of the season, helping Stanford allow just nine goals and set a program record with 19 shutouts. After Stanford’s 3-2 loss at No. 8 Florida, Stanford finished the season on a 1,988:59 minute run without allowing a goal from open play.
- The Stanford women’s team won the NCAA national championship this past season and the men’s team won its third straight title. “Seeing the men’s team win two titles in a row was a big motivator for us coming into the season,” Davidson said. “We wanted to emulate the spirit that they have and the determination and the grit that they have because that’s what sets them apart. They will outwork you 10 out of 10 times. We knew we had the talent, now we needed to add that grit and determination to the mix.”
Nothing gives a player more power than confidence. And confidence in yourself equates to trust from your teammates.
Davidson came into the SheBelieves Cup in February with no idea how much playing time she would get with the U.S. Women’s National team. She ended up playing all 90 minutes in all three games and will use the experience as an incredible learning tool.
“I will be able to take a lot of information from both on and off the field in terms of team dynamic and communication and leadership and bring those things back to the college game,” she said.
Playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team poses enormous challenges for any player, let alone one of only two college players on the roster.
“The mental part was probably a bigger challenge than the physical because I had to convince myself that I had the confidence to play at this level,” she said. “I needed people to believe that I can do my job to where my teammates could trust me. There is a cycle of trust and confidence between myself and my team. I had to believe in myself that I could play here and deserved this spot like I did before in club and then at Stanford.”