All Scores

JWS Player of the Year: Amelia White, a game-changing soccer talent

Amelia White finished her senior season with 25 goals and 15 assists, leading Homestead to its first-ever state championship. (Photo provided)

There’s a moment from last fall that sticks with coach Rick Link the most when he reflects on Amelia White’s career at Homestead High School.

The Spartans were in the regional semifinals of Indiana’s Class 3A bracket, and their opponent was two-time defending state champion Noblesville, a program that hadn’t lost a match in over two and a half years. On top of that, Noblesville hadn’t allowed more than three goals in a game in over four years.

But with White on the pitch, this year was different.

In front of a jubilant home crowd, Homestead faced a 1-0 deficit before one touch to White changed everything.

“We touched the ball to her to kick it back off, and she dribbled straight to the goal past five of their defenders and scored within six seconds to tie it back up,” Link says. “She had a hat trick, plus she was tripped in the box. Another girl took the PK, and we won 4-2.

“I saw their coach later at the state voting that we do together down in Indianapolis. He said people were asking, ‘Well, why didn’t you do something different to stop her?’ And he goes, ‘There was nothing you could do to stop her.’ She’s flying by his best defenders, and that was the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen on the offensive end.”

White hasn’t slowed down since then.

Homestead went on to finish the season 22-0 and claim its first state championship in program history. White was named Miss Indiana by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association and the Gatorade Indiana Girls Soccer Player of the Year, and now she can add one more accolade to the list — Just Women’s Sports High School Soccer Player of the Year.

After racking up 25 goals and 15 assists in her senior season, she’s headed to the Division I ranks to compete for Penn State.

While the future is certainly bright for White, her beginnings warrant their own story. It all began when she and her twin sister discovered their passion for soccer a little more than a decade ago.

Amelia White, left, competes in a match for Fort Wayne United FC. (Photo provided)

Growing up in Fort Wayne, Amelia and Sophia both began playing soccer when they were 6 years old. Inspired by their older brother, they discovered their own love of the game and played on a recreational team, but it didn’t last very long.

“I would just score goals,” Amelia says. “Me and my sister would only pass to each other, so they actually kicked us off the rec team because we wouldn’t pass to anyone and we’d just score goals.”

Shortly thereafter, they joined Fort Wayne United FC and the journey started to get more serious. Amelia was about 13 years old when she began training with the boys, and by the time she was 14, she was playing with FWUFC’s oldest age group for girls.

It was around that time that Link watched Amelia play for the first time.

“I was just amazed,” Link says. “The ball sticks to her foot. Her speed with the ball, I mean, I’ve never seen anyone that fast with the ball at her foot. She’s racing past people, dribbling past people, and they don’t have the ball. And they can’t keep up.

“You could watch her play for five minutes and realize she’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.”

The experience of getting to share the pitch with her sister throughout the years is one that Amelia cherishes, but she admits it wasn’t easy to navigate the comparisons that always seemed to surface between the two. While Amelia was busy attending national team camps, Sophia was settling into her role as a stalwart defender and wasn’t drawing the same level of hype. It was hard on Sophia, but as time passed, they learned to handle it better.

“I think now it’s really good that we recognize we’re on different sides of the field,” Amelia says. “We both have different jobs. She’s really good at what she does, and I’m good at what I do. We’re pretty competitive still, but I think that helps us a lot.”

As freshmen, they made an immediate impact on Link’s squad. The Spartans advanced to the state championship game but lost to perennial powerhouse Carmel in a 2-1 decision.

Sophia went on to start at center back all four years at Homestead, but Amelia’s eyes were fixed on competing internationally. In 2019, Amelia was invited to play for the U.S. U-17 women’s national team at a friendly tournament in Sweden, and the obligation forced her to miss a large chunk of her sophomore season at Homestead.

Then, a year later, Amelia was upfront with her coach early on that she had planned to compete for the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup and would have to miss the season due to training in the fall. The World Cup was eventually canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was pretty much the first time that I’d ever been away from home for a long amount of time at a pretty young age, but it was a really good experience and a really big learning experience, just going to other countries and learning about other cultures,” she says. “It was awesome. Trainings were super intense. It definitely helped me develop as a player, but it was mainly the stuff they would tell me and I took back home that really made a difference.”

From the moment it began, Amelia knew her senior season was going to be special. For one, it was an opportunity to get to take the field with her sister one more time. But beyond that, she had developed a unique bond with her entire team that made their cohesion as a unit that much stronger.

“Even though everyone was really close and best friends, we took the training pretty serious. I think that’s what made a difference. I love those girls,” Amelia says. “Once we did get to the tournament, we played at such a high level against older girls, so I think the seniors did a really good job of showing and leading how to deal with that.”

Link believes Amelia’s experience with the national team brought along an entirely new element to her game. She was much more focused on elevating the players around her, demonstrating a sense of maturity he’d yet to see from her.

“She set a lot of other girls up,” Link says. “She could’ve taken over every game we played. She took over at times if she needed to, but she really involved her teammates more her senior year and was just out there to have fun.”

Following the momentous win over Noblesville, Homestead went on to claim the region crown with a 2-0 victory over Harrison before Amelia was forced to miss the state semifinal match due to a training obligation with the national team. The Spartans escaped that game with a win over Saint Joseph, in which they tied 0-0 in regulation before advancing in penalty kicks.

A week later, Amelia was back on the pitch with her sister in the state final. She scored a goal and led the Spartans to a 2-1 win over Carmel, avenging their loss from three years prior and clinching the first state soccer title in school history.

“It didn’t even feel real,” Amelia says. “Coming off of hard games before, like the Noblesville game, we were already on a high, but we knew that was going to be a really tough game. Once the final whistle blew, it was just really surreal.”

Although she only played two full seasons at the high school level, Amelia finished her career at Homestead with 52 goals and 31 assists. She’s ranked as the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2022 by Top Drawer Soccer, which earned her attention from a handful of Division I schools.

In November, Amelia and Sophia sat next to each other in front of family, friends, coaches and media as they each signed national letters of intent to continue their careers at the college level — Sophia with IUPUI and Amelia with Penn State.

Amelia chose the Nittany Lions over the likes of Georgetown, USC and Notre Dame, impressed by the relationship she’d built with head coach Erica Dambach.

“It’s very family-oriented, which I really liked to see when I was on my visit,” says Amelia, who currently plans to major in political science but is still undeclared. “The campus is also just gorgeous, and it was the only place where I really felt at home and secure. I could just envision myself being here, and I think that was the really big difference that separated Penn State from the other schools because I just didn’t really feel that when talking to other coaches or visiting campuses.

“Penn State is just such a big school. There’s so many degrees and opportunities to explore here, so I really enjoyed that, too.”

As she heads to the college level, Amelia is bound to run into competition unlike anything she’s seen before, and Link is fascinated by how her game will translate at the next level.

“She’s always been the best player on her team by far, even when she’s playing up. Obviously when she came in as a freshman in high school, she was playing against seniors, but she was used to that because she was always playing up in club level, too,” he says. “I think she’ll need to continue to work really hard because I think it’ll be the first time where there might be some girls who will be able to match her skills and speed, and that typically has not been the case.”

Amelia is already training with her teammates at Penn State and is enrolled in summer classes. She has goals of getting back in the mix with the national team and wants to make an impact right away at Penn State, but she understands her role while learning behind players like Ally Schlegel, who led the Nittany Lions with 10 goals last season.

Amelia credits her coaches at FWUFC as some of her greatest mentors over the years — people like Bobby Poursanidis and Claire Ward.

For Amelia, it always seems to come back to Fort Wayne, a town that has produced soccer stars like Sarah Killion, DaMarcus Beasley and Akil Amen-Diop Watts.

Amelia wants to be the next name on that list, and if her senior season at Homestead is any indication, she’s well on her way.

“It was just one of those years where things came together, and we didn’t have any serious injuries,” Link says. “We won in PKs twice in the tournament, so there’s obviously luck involved there.

“It doesn’t hurt to have players like Amelia and Sophia as well.”

Trent Singer is the High School Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @trentsinger.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.