It only took five minutes for defender Kayla Mills to find fellow senior Morgan Andrews in the box against the University of North Carolina. An arching corner kick and a flick of a header sent the ball into the back of the net, kicking off a 3-0 upset for one of the top teams in the country.Both players have found their rhythm in their final seasons as Trojans, and with that rhythm has come serious attention from across the country. This summer, both Mills and Andrews were named to a watch list of 36 players for this year’s MAC Hermann trophy.The distinction sets Mills and Andrews apart as some of the greatest college players in the country. But for the two seniors, this final season is about much more than personal achievements.The MAC Hermann award is to college soccer what the Heisman is to football. Recent winners include World Cup champions like Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara and Mia Hamm.So, it came as a slight surprise to both Mills and Andrews this summer when their phones lit up with texts from friends congratulating them on the distinction.“It’s the greatest honor any collegiate soccer player can earn,” Andrews said. “When you look at the people who have come before, who have won it in the past, it’s pretty incredible to even be considered on that level.”But the news came as no surprise to head coach Keidane McAlpine that Mills and Andrews stood out on a national level. In their years at USC, both players have come through on and off the field as McAlpine shaped his young program.“It’s a true testament to the level of respect that they’ve earned throughout their time here,” McAlpine said. “It’s a huge step forward for them and for our program. But I think, for those who see them practicing and working day in and day out, it’s something we get to see every day. These are world- class players.”In a well-spread offense that finds scoring opportunities with a variety of players, Andrews has already netted three goals this year, including the opening point against the University of North Carolina. Moving up to midfielder after spending last year on the defense, Mills connected to assist two of those three goals.It’s a chemistry that McAlpine has seen develop over the past two years of playing together. And it’s a relationship that has been growing for most of the years that Mills and Andrews have played soccer.The two first met in the U.S. national team system when they were 14 years old. They played with and against each other off and on throughout their high school careers, until Mills became a Trojan and Andrews headed to Notre Dame. Two years later, Andrews transferred to USC and the two became everyday teammates, both for the Trojans and for the U.S. U-23 team.Though they only played together on a daily basis for the past two years, spending eight years as teammates has formed a bond of trust and respect between the two seniors.“I love playing next to her,” Andrews said. “We’ve worked off of each other well. Honestly, she’s just one of the best players I’ve ever seen play. She makes it fun to play alongside her.”Earning a spot on the watch list had a mixed effect on Mills and Andrews. On one hand, it bolstered their confidence, confirming that they are among the top players in the country. Of course, it wasn’t the first confirmation of their status among the best of the best — Mills was named the top youth defender in the country by TopDrawer in August, and Andrews was ranked among the top five midfielders in the same report.It also created a pressure to perform among the best.“I think I always expect the best of myself, whether I’m on a list or whether I’m not,” Mills said. “That pressure comes from myself, from wanting to be my best for my team. And that’s on and off the field. If I need to be the best at cheering on the sidelines, that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m always going to put that pressure on myself.”As Mills and Andrews head into their final regular season at USC, however, personal accolades are the last thing on their minds. Mills approaches each game with the mindset of contributing as much as she can to the team, in whatever way she is needed, whether that means sitting on the bench or playing every second.This feeling is echoed by Andrews. Her goals for the season are simple yet difficult to execute: Win a Pac-12 championship, and follow it up with an NCAA championship. It won’t be easy. The last time they won the national championship was in 2007, and the Trojans have never taken a solo Pac-12 title.Andrews never shies away from saying that the team is a contender for the national championship. If the MAC Hermann trophy comes along the way, so be it. But for both Mills and Andrews, the team is more important than anything else.“There’s no such thing as an individual when you’re playing with 11 people on the field,” Andrews said. “If I win any accolade or if I’m on any list, it’s because of the girls around me. Everyone wants everyone next to them to succeed. It doesn’t matter who puts the ball in the back of the net as long as we win the game.”
Southampton stunned Tottenham Hotspur at St Mary’s to put their top four credentials in further doubt. Elsewhere, Crystal Palace were beaten by bitter rivals Brighton following a late Anthony Knockaert wonderstrike, while Newcastle United completed a superb comeback against Everton in a five-goal thriller.CARDIFF 2-0 WEST HAMCardiff kept in touch with the Premier League strugglers above them by beating West Ham 2-0.Junior Hoilett and Victor Camarasa scored as Cardiff ended a run of three successive defeats with a victory that was rarely in doubt from the fourth minute.But Southampton’s comeback win against Tottenham leaves Cardiff in the bottom three and two points from safety.Although Cardiff remain in the relegation zone with eight games left to play, this victory will offer hope to Neil Warnock’s side that they can survive.HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 0-2 BOURNEMOUTHCallum Wilson scored on his return to action as Bournemouth halted their away-day blues with a 2-0 win at bottom club Huddersfield.Wilson, back from a seven-week injury lay-off, chested home a first-half opener and laid on Bournemouth’s second for Ryan Fraser in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.The Cherries snapped a nine-game Premier League losing run on the road, while a 15th defeat in 17 league matches for Huddersfield nudged them closer to the trapdoor.LEICESTER CITY 3-1 FULHAMJamie Vardy passed a century of goals for Leicester as the Foxes piled further misery on doomed Fulham.The striker scored twice late on to take his Foxes tally to 101 and seal a 3-1 win in Brendan Rodgers’ first home game in charge.Youri Tielemans’ first goal for the club opened the scoring as Leicester rose to 10th in the Premier League.Floyd Ayite’s first goal for over a year hauled the Cottagers level but they slipped to a sixth straight defeat.NEWCASTLE 3-2 EVERTONAyoze Perez scored a late double as Newcastle fought back to win a five-goal thriller on an afternoon Everton keeper Jordan Pickford will want to forget.Pickford had earlier escaped a red card after conceding a penalty which he saved, but was beaten three times inside the last 25 minutes as the Magpies roared back to snatch a priceless 3-2 victory.Marco Silva’s men looked to be coasting after Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison had given them a 2-0 lead either side of Matt Ritchie’s missed spot-kick, but Salomon Rondon’s strike set up a grandstand finish in which Perez struck twice inside three minutes to help the Magpies claim a fifth successive home win.SOUTHAMPTON 2-1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPURSouthampton scored twice in five second-half minutes to boost their Premier League survival hopes with a 2-1 win over Tottenham, whose grip on the top-four positions loosened even further.Harry Kane’s 200th career goal for club and country was reward for a dominant first-half display, but Saints turned it around after the break and won it through quickfire goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse.It was a vital and deserved comeback from Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men, who stayed two points clear of the relegation zone.CRYSTAL PALACE 1-2 BRIGHTONBrighton boss Chris Hughton knows it will take a composed display to get the better of rivals Crystal Palace and their manager Roy Hodgson.The Seagulls travel to Selhurst Park for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off looking to build on last weekend’s 1-0 home win over bottom club Huddersfield.It was a hard-earned first Premier League victory since December 29, and one which again put some daylight between the south-coast club and the relegation dogfight. –Source: talkSPORT
Source: CAF Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has chartered a 480-seater plane to take football fans to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations after the country unexpectedly qualified for the round of 16.Excitement has been building in the Indian Ocean island nation as the team emerged on top of group B after beating three-time tournament winners Nigeria 2-0.There are no direct commercial flights from Madagascar to Egypt.“Barea”, who take their nickname from a breed of local cattle, will play Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday for a place in the quarter-final.“After hearing the demands of supporters, President Andry Rajoelina and the Madagascan state have decided to mobilise an Airbus 380, with 480 seats, to transport supporters,” Rinah Rakotomanga, communications chief for the presidency, told AFP.The flight will leave Antananarivo on Saturday and return immediately after the game.But the adventure will not be for free — tickets cost about $600 (530 euros) including the flight, a seat at the match and meals.Rajoelina had announced he would attend the match, sparking a campaign to enable other fans to travel.“Do not go alone to Egypt President Andry Rajoelina, there are supporters who are ready to fill a plane and the empty stadium,” said former opposition MP Guy Rivo Randrianarisoa on social media.Madagascar will face a tough game at the weekend — they are ranked 108th in the world, with DR Congo in 49th.“Barea’s participation is historic,” said Jean Josue Njakasolo, 38, as he lined up to buy his ticket at an Air Madagascar ticket office.The price “does not mean anything compared to the honour that our national team gives us,” he said.