About to enter Grade 12, B.C. soccer star faces decisions

Jordyn Huitema will soon have to decide college or the pros

Canada’s Jordyn Huitema (right) celebrates with Ashley Lawrence (10) and Jessie Fleming after scoring her second goal and her country’s sixth as Costa Rica’s Shirley Cruz walks by during second half International women’s soccer action in Toronto on June 11, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Canada’s Jordyn Huitema (right) celebrates with Ashley Lawrence (10) and Jessie Fleming after scoring her second goal and her country’s sixth as Costa Rica’s Shirley Cruz walks by during second half International women’s soccer action in Toronto on June 11, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Things are happening very fast for Jordyn Huitema.

The 17-year-old from Chilliwack has already won 11 caps for Canada and recently made two guest appearances for European powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain at the Women’s International Champions Cup.

In January, she won the Golden Boot as top-scorer at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in Trinidad and Tobago. In April and June, serving as captain, she helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which kicks off Nov. 13 in Uruguay, with an assist on the decisive goal by Andersen Williams.

In October, the Canadian senior side will look to qualify for the 2019 World Cup via the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Texas.

“If you blink you miss it,” Huitema said of her crowded calendar. ”It’s been a crazy ride. It’s great. It’s really cool to be able to play with three age-groups. The opportunities are endless.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema makes national team roster for game vs. Brazil

About to enter Grade 12, Huitema will soon have to make a decision on her soccer future — college or the pros. She says she is still looking at all her options.

“I’m still kind of in the dark where I want to take things,” she acknowledged in an interview.

“Coming up pretty soon I’ll have to make a decision but I’m not in a rush or anything like that,” she added.

First up for Huitema is Canada’s friendly Sunday against Brazil at Ottawa’s TD Place. It’s the first meeting between the fifth-ranked Canada and No. 7 Brazil since the 2016 Olympic bronze-medal match won 2-1 by the Canadians.

There is no shortage of interest in Huitema, who is in her fifth year with the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Girls Elite Super REX program. U.S. college pitches go straight to an adviser, who works for the Whitecaps and serves as a buffer for the young forward.

“None of them really communicate directly through me unless I allow them to … It’s definitely not super-stressful,” she said.

Huitema could skip college and enter the NWSL via the allocation process as U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh did last year — leaving UCLA without playing a game to join the Washington Spirit.

Paris Saint-Germain has already shown there is European interest and Canadian teammates likes Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon) and Janine Beckie (Manchester City), among others, are already playing at an elite level across the Atlantic.

Or she could go the college route like fellow Canadian Jessie Fleming, a star midfielder at UCLA. Given Huitema did not sign a contract to play briefly with PSG, she has maintained her college eligibility.

But she got a taste of how an elite team works, starting for PSG against the North Carolina Courage and coming off the bench against Manchester City in late July in Miami.

“It was great. It was really cool to see a pro environment and see how they do things on and off the field,” she said.

At five foot nine, Huitema has size, pace and vision.

She turned heads when then-coach John Herdman had her train with the national team at 14. She made her senior debut at 15 at the Algarve Cup in March 2017 and drew more attention three months later when the 16-year-old scored twice coming off the bench against Costa Rica at Toronto’s BMO Field.

The first goal, while a milestone, was not that memorable — bouncing in off a limb after a goalmouth scramble. But the second, which came one minute later, was pure sniper as she lashed a right-footed shot into the net.

Huitema is part of a so-called Super REX Centre program that allows top female soccer prospects from across Canada to attend school, train, and play together in Burnaby, B.C. where she lives with a billet family. The program is headed by former New Zealand international Emma Humphries.

Huitema and her talented teammates usually play boys sides, although sometimes they face university women’s teams. Schoolwork is done on the road as needed, thanks to accommodating teachers, with tests awaiting on their return.

She is joined at the Ottawa friendly by REX Centre teammates Maya Antoine, Julia Grosso and Jayde Riviere, also 17.

“I’m super-excited,” Huitema said of the game.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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