Mizzou’s Kaysie Clark glad for second shot with national soccer team

06/01/2014 7:00 PM

06/03/2014 2:23 PM

Kaysie Clark’s last appearance at a U.S. women’s soccer national team training camp didn’t go well.

In January 2012, midway through Clark’s freshman year at Missouri, she was one of seven midfielders called in for a U.S. women’s under-20 camp.

“I didn’t come in fit enough and I didn’t come in ready to play,” said Clark, a Liberty graduate. “I just wasn’t ready and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t perform very well. I wasn’t very confident. That left a bad impression on those coaches.”

Clark, a senior midfielder for the Tigers, had played her way up through the youth national team ranks.

She started training with under-16 national team and also appeared for U17s and U18s, but Clark hadn’t been called up again since that disastrous U20 camp.

That changed Tuesday when Steve Swanson released a 26-player roster for the U.S. women’s soccer under-23 national team’s next weeklong camp, which begins Saturday 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

Clark was one of eight midfielders chosen for the camp, and she’s determined to make the most of the new lease on her national-team life.

“This is a second chance, so I’m happy I got it and I just want to do a lot different,” Clark said. “Knowing that I don’t want to do what I did last time provides a lot of motivation. It was kind of embarrassing. I felt embarrassed with how I played. I know I’m not that type of player, and I don’t want to do that again.”

Clark, a four-time All-Metro selection who helped lead Liberty to back-to-back Missouri Class 3 state championships as a junior and senior, was a rising star coming out of high school, but her transition to college soccer was rocky.

“I didn’t have the seasons that I wanted my freshman and sophomore years,” said Clark, who scored 22 goals with 21 assists as a Blue Jays senior. “It was an adjustment going to college. It was hard being away from home and all that. It took me a while to really feel comfortable with the girls and all the changes that happened.”

Clark scored six goals with eight assists in 40 games during those first two seasons, but it wasn’t until last fall that things finally clicked for her at Missouri.

She notched six goals with three assists in 20 games as a junior, earning first-team All-SEC and second-team all-region honors.

“I felt more like myself and I think I was playing more aggressively and more like I had been in the past,” Clark said.

She’s ready to do it for the national team again, too.

“I’ve been trying to get back to the national team, so I was really excited when I got this opportunity,” Clark said. “I want to make the most of this opportunity and hopefully get invited to more (camps). I want to prove that I can play at this level and prove to everyone that I want to be at this level.”

Buoyed by the lessons learned from those struggles two and half years ago, perhaps this camp, this crack at redemption, will become the springboard to a role with the full U.S. women’s national team in the future.

“(The 2012 camp) opened up my eyes that I had a lot of work to do and that I needed to always keep improving, that I needed to not settle,” Clark said. “I feel a lot more confident about this one.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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