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Jaedyn Shaw and fellow USWNT youngsters ‘seized opportunities’

Alyssa Thompson chases Jaedyn Shaw after assisting on Shaw's first USWNT goal on Oct. 29. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The youth contingent of the U.S. women’s national team is having its moment.

Both Jaedyn Shaw, 18, and Mia Fishel, 22, scored their first international goals in Sunday’s 3-0 win against Colombia. Meanwhile, players such as Alyssa Thompson, 18, and Naomi Girma, 23, have established themselves as mainstays for the national team.

And while interim head coach Twila Kilgore has preached patience while integrating younger players into the U.S. system, that doesn’t mean the coaches are not impressed with what they’ve seen.

“We’re really, really pleased with both of them,” Kilgore said of Fishel and Shaw. “We’ve introduced them to the environment with little pressure. They’ve been dressed, had an opportunity to learn specific things and then got their first caps and then got extended point in time and made the most of it. We’re really, really pleased with how they’ve seized those opportunities.”

Both players entered the game at halftime as substitutes for Sophia Smith and Alex Morgan, and they established an easy connection in just their second career appearances for the USWNT.

“We never played together before. Since our first camp, we came in kind of together,” Fishel said. “She was my buddy from day one. Off the field just an amazing person. I think it showed on the field our connection off the field.”

Fishel scored the first goal of the match for the USWNT, and Shaw iced the win with her goal off an assist from Thompson. Shaw’s goal coming at at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium made it even more special for the Wave forward.

“It’s hard to believe that it even happened,” she said. “I saw Alyssa get the ball, I took off and she played the best ball ever. I did what I could to tap it in. I’m so so happy to have it here in San Diego and I’m so honored to be here.”

The patience shown by Shaw and Fishel as they acclimate to the national team environment has also been impressive, Kilgore said. She also noted that they are both “really solid” and “very talented” players.

“Whether you’re a young player of you’re a veteran player, the key is that you never know if you’re gonna get invited back,” Kilgore continued. “You have to compete daily for the minutes that you get. … You’ve got to be able to show that you can play at the international level and that your quality translates to this.

“Today was a really, really good day for them in terms of proving that they can execute. … Nothing’s promised to anybody. And I think that the path that we took with them proved that it’s good to take things slow and their futures are very bright.”

Girma, who already has become a staple on the USWNT backline, also was impressed by Shaw, she said after Sunday’s victory.

“I’m so happy for her. Only her second cap and getting a goal,” Girma said. “Just being so confident on the ball and really impacting the game in a positive way when she came in. It’s so impressive and she’s so young so I think the future’s so bright for her.”