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USWNT hopeful Evelyn Shores known for her creative magic

Evelyn Shores (Photo courtesy of US Soccer)

Evelyn Shores may be labeled a left back, but to those closer to her, those two words don’t tell the full story. Yes, Shores often patrols the left side, running up and down the field all game, known for her work ethic and desire to win.

But when her parents and high school coach speak about Shores, the words they use to describe her game are much broader: creative, playmaker, unpredictable.

Wherever the high school senior is on the field — defense, midfield or forward — she brings that magic which can unlock defenses and make observers marvel.

“She just amazes me all the time,” says Sharon Loughran, Shores’ coach at Westminster (Ga.) High School and a former Olympic Development Program coach. “She’s hard to defend because you’re not quite sure what she’s going to do.”

Shores has been turning heads on the soccer field since she was 4 — even at that young age, her mother Debbie recalls there being something special about her daughter. Thanks to her ingenuity on the ball and a tireless work ethic, Shores is ready to take the next step. The No. 7 recruit in the Class of 2023, according to TopDrawerSoccer, Shores was a first-team selection to the inaugural Just Women’s Sports All-American girls’ soccer team last spring. She signed with UNC earlier this year, an integral part of their No. 1-ranked recruiting class.

A part of the U.S. youth national team set-up since the U-14s, Shores has one more season of high school soccer left. Her position may be fluid at times — she plays attacking midfield for Westminster — but her talent is undeniable.

“She’s an extremely creative player,” Loughran says. “We need more creative players in the U.S. and that’s one of her strengths.”

Shores, for her part, credits the different positions she has played with her growth and improvement.

“Playing forward and attacking mid has really unlocked a new part of my game,” she says. “It really showed me how the attacking side works and how to join the attacking play as an outside back.

“As I continue to learn how to play in the attack, it’s helped me as an outside back.”

‘Always been an amazing player’

Loughran used to scour the state for Georgia ODP, searching for standout players. She has seen plenty of talented players excel at the youth level, including two-time World Cup champions Morgan Gautrat (née Brian) and Kelley O’Hara and World Cup winner Emily Sonnett.

Even with that decorated history in the sport, Shores caught Loughran’s eye from a young age.

“She’s always been an amazing player since she was little,” Loughran says.

Shores, the youngest of three siblings, started playing for Atlanta’s Tophat Soccer Club at age 4. She still plays her club soccer there today, a rarity among youth players. Her earliest memories include Debbie coaching her teams and the joy at getting to play alongside her best friend.

“From there, my love for the game took off,” Shores says.

Debbie recalls her daughter’ precocious coordination and balance, the ability to look behind her and keep dribbling.
When an opponent suddenly appeared in her way, Shores blazed past them. In fact, she usually went too fast, often dribbling the ball out of play.

“Gosh, if the kid ever learns to turn the corner, she’s going to be great,” Debbie recalls her co-coach, a mother of one of Evelyn’s friends, saying.

‘She outworks everybody’

Perhaps just as important as Shores’ athletic and technical ability is her desire to constantly improve.

She is always exploring ways to get better, quizzing her coaches and mentors on speed and agility training or soccer drills, and even picking up yoga to increase her flexibility.

“She’s always been very competitive with others and herself,” says Shores’ father, Steven. “She’s had an internal desire to always perform at the best and highest level.”

That desire was further fueled by her first national team experience, a U-14 camp in California. Training alongside 23 other standout players, Shores began to form bonds and friendships with girls who had similar dreams and desires to compete at the top level.

“The amount of time and commitment that athletes put in, especially around that age, is unique,” Debbie says. “To be able to meet other athletes who had similar goals and similar mindsets and a similar mission was really formative.”

Shores watched the U.S. women’s national team growing up, cheering them on during the World Cup and Olympics. After that camp, she started consuming soccer at a voracious level, learning a little more each time she turned on a match.

That passion for the sport is evident to Loughran each day in practice. Sometimes, it’s too much.

When Shores was preparing for a U-20 camp, she trained with the Westminster boys’ team to stay sharp. She got so competitive during practice, Loughran worried she might pick up an injury. Go home, Loughran told her, and rest up ahead of her national team trip.

“She outworks everybody,” Loughran says. “It’s relentless.”

‘The total package’

Shores aspires to compete on the international stage with the U.S. Already this past summer, she helped lead the U-20s to a Sud Ladies Cup title and just missed out on a spot at the U-20 World Cup.

Her dreams also include winning a national title at UNC, her mother’s alma mater and her favorite school since she was little. But first, she has more immediate goals. She aims to lead Westminster to an eighth consecutive state title this spring, this time as a captain. It’s an unusual role for Shores, who never took the captain’s armband while playing up with girls two or three years older at Tophat.

It’s a role that comes naturally to her, though.

“What I notice most is she has probably the most national accolades of all the (Westminster) players, and you would never know it,” Loughran says. “Because she inspires all those around her.”

When Shores is on the field, she always smiling. Her joy for the game comes through in her play. Sometimes at Tophat, Shores is tasked with controlling the entire left side of the field. She’s given free rein to surge forward and drop back.

Shores’ trickery on the ball, the ability to pass through a defense or run by a defender, is an embodiment of that happiness she feels each time she steps on the field, whether it’s a practice or game.

“Evelyn is just a playmaker,” Debbie says. “She doesn’t have to take the glory. She just loves to create.”

Loughran marvels at Shores’ versatility, recalling a time she put her at forward after the starter got injured, and she proceed to score a goal “in two seconds.” Loughran does envision Shores playing left back at the collegiate level and beyond. But put Shores anywhere on the field, and she is going to produce.

“She’s the total package,” Loughran says.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.

‘UNINTERRUPTED’s Top Class Tennis’ Debuts on Prime 

Still from tennis docuseries UNINTERRUPTED'S Top Class Tennis
'UNINTERRUPTED'S Top Class Tennis' follows four junior players as they prep for the Orange Bowl. (Amazon MGM Studios)

Prime Video is hitting the tennis court with Thursday's streaming premiere of UNINTERRUPTED's Top Class Tennis.

After four seasons of the men's high school basketball-focused Top Class: The Life and Times of The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers, athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED is expanding its purview to tennis with a new four-episode mixed-gender docuseries.

Junior tennis stars take centerstage

Behind the concept is 2017 US Open champion and world No. 45 pro Sloane Stephens, who co-executive produced the series alongside LeBron James and Maverick Carter, co-founders of UNINTERRUPTED and its production and entertainment development arm, The SpringHill Company.

Top Class Tennis follows four players on their journeys to the Orange Bowl, arguably the junior circuit’s Grand Slam equivalent. The Florida-based international tournament was established in 1947 and has crowned a long list of future pros as champions, from retired great Steffi Graf to current star Coco Gauff.

Stealing the spotlight this season is rising Harvard sophomore and 2022-23 USA Today Girls Tennis Player of the Year Stephanie Yakoff, as well as five-time junior title winner and incoming Texas freshman Ariana Anazagasty-Pursoo. Both already have WTA creds, with Yakoff featuring at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open while Anazagasty-Pursoo competed on three Grand Slam courts.

Kamilla Cardoso, Kiki Rice, Caitlin Clark, Holly Rowe and Kristen Lappas at the ESPN+ 'Full Court Press' premiere
ESPN+'s Full Court Press is one of several women's sports docs hitting the screen this year. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Women's sports storms the big screen

Top Class Tennis is just the latest in what's shaping up to be a women’s sports documentary boom.

From Max's LFG about the USWNT's fight for equal pay and Netflix's Under Pressure chronicling the 2023 World Cup to ESPN+’s 2023-24 NCAA basketball series Full Court Press, athletes in women’s sports have taken streamers by storm.

UNINTERRUPTED's Top Class Tennis is available for streaming now on Prime Video

JWS Launches ‘The Gold Standard’ Hosted by Olympians Kelley O’Hara & Lisa Leslie

the gold standard logo
'The Gold Standard' is just one of three new JWS shows tackling the Summer Olympics.

Just Women's Sports announced three new digital series on Thursday, headlined by The Gold Standard, a new studio show hosted by Olympic gold medalists and women's sports icons Kelley O'Hara and Lisa Leslie.

USWNT and NWSL great O'Hara, a two-time World Cup winner and Olympic gold and bronze medalist, is teaming up with three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, herself a four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, to bring viewers inside the world of Olympic women's sports. The pair will record each episode in-studio, with a series of special guests joining them throughout the show's run.

An insider's view of the Summer Games

The Gold Standard will debut on July 27th and cover the biggest women's sports stories from the Paris Olympics, giving fans a unique perspective by tapping into the insights and opinions of two legendary Olympians. 

"I know first-hand just how exciting and intense the Olympic Games can be," Leslie told JWS. "This show gives us a chance as athletes to bring fans closer to the experience, by sharing our unique insights into the Games. And with all the momentum we're seeing in women's sports, now is the perfect time to have a show dedicated to the biggest women's sports moments at the Olympic Games." 

"I can still remember watching the '96 Olympics and knowing that I wanted to be on that stage one day," says O'Hara. "Having the chance to compete in the Olympics and win gold was one of the highlights of my career. I'm looking forward to being a fan this time around and getting the chance to share my own perspective on the Games' biggest stories. Having teamed with Just Women's Sports before, I know this will be content that resonates with fans." 

The Gold Standard will live on Just Women's Sports' YouTube page, with select social cuts distributed across JWS digital platforms. The six-episode show will run through August 13th.

uswnt stars kelley o'hara and jaedyn shaw on jws digital series 1v1
1v1 with Kelley O'Hara will focus on USWNT players as they prep for the 2024 Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

Additional series focus on USWNT's Olympic run

The Gold Standard is just one of three upcoming JWS series designed to invite fans to experience the Summer Games from an Olympian's point of view, with additional series zeroing in on the USWNT's 2024 Olympic run.

Ahead of the opening ceremony, JWS will launch the latest edition of 1v1, with host Kelley O'Hara interviewing three of her USWNT teammates: Emily Sonnett, Jaedyn Shaw, and Rose Lavelle. These peer-to-peer interviews provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the USWNT's preparation for their first major tournament under new manager Emma Hayes.

To round things out, JWS is also bringing back its award-winning series, The 91st. This tournament's edition will be hosted by retired USWNT star and World Cup champion Jessica McDonald alongside noted soccer personalities Jordan Angeli and Duda Pavão. The 91st will follow the USWNT as it looks to go for gold against a stacked international field at the Paris Olympics — including reigning World Cup winners Spain.

Each new digital series leans on the expertise of its accomplished hosts and special guest stars, providing fans with candid, personality-driven commentary surrounding this summer's biggest event.

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

Subscribe to The Late Sub to never miss an episode.

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