A Flash of Brilliance
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The summer – a period of 90-plus days that many, especially those blasted by harsh winter storms, look forward to all year.
Astrology buffs yearn for summer not because it promises scorching temperatures, shorter work hours or longer weekends, but because blue daytime skies are generally followed by clear night skies, allowing gazers the chance to catch a glimpse of a shooting star or two.
Often looked at as good-luck charms, shooting stars are the general description for the visible path a meteoroid takes as it enters the atmosphere, becoming a meteor. With that definition in mind, it’s safe to say that Morgantown residents need to look no farther than Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium for their best chance at a glimpse of a shooting star. Sophomore defender Kadeisha Buchanan is a fast-moving meteoroid, streaking through the NCAA and international soccer ranks on her way to becoming a meteor-sized superstar.
Signs pointing toward Buchanan’s breakout were visible to all who tracked the Big 12-champion Mountaineers throughout their 2013 campaign. Following a successful 2013 summer that saw her earn international praise for shutting down United States star Abby Wambach in a June friendly with the Canadian Women’s National Team, the Brampton, Ontario, native earned a starting spot on the Mountaineers’ backline and helped hold WVU’s first four opponents to three combined goals.
A breakout moment at the Duke Nike Classic followed. Despite WVU dropping a 4-2 decision to then-No. 1 North Carolina on Sept. 8, Tar Heels’ head coach Anson Dorrance said of Buchanan, “That center back might be the best center back in the country. Who is that kid? She stopped so much of our attack, and I want to tip my hat to her, because that’s one of the best defenders I’ve seen at a collegiate level.”
Two months later, all that encountered Buchanan, and even those who had only witnessed her skill second-hand, agreed with Dorrance. After helping the Mountaineers secure their second straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title, Buchanan was named the Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year. She then combined with her fellow linemates and goalkeeper Sara Keane to post three consecutive shutouts at the Big 12 Soccer Tournament and secure the program’s first Big 12 Championship title. She was named the tournament’s Defensive MVP.
Buchanan concluded her first season in history-making fashion, as she was named to the 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire All-America Second Team, becoming the first Mountaineer rookie to earn NSCAA All-America honors. Yet, it is the play of a teammate, not one of her own, that she says defined her first season in Morgantown.
“My favorite moment of the season was when my roommate, teammate and best friend, Ashley Lawrence, scored the lone goal that helped us win the Big 12 Tournament title,” Buchanan said in reflection.
Buchanan and Lawrence, a sophomore forward out of Toronto, Canada, have known each other for years, playing alongside one another on youth national teams in Canada. Now, not only do they don the Gold and Blue together, but they also continue to represent their home country as a unit, as both have earned a spot on the Canadian Women’s National Team and the Canadian Women’s U-20 Team rosters.
The pair is set to face Germany tomorrow in a Women’s International Friendly at BC Place Stadium, in Vancouver, British Columbia. It will be their first international match with the National Team since Buchanan scored her first career international goal in the team’s 1-1 draw against the United States Women’s National Team on May 8, an experience from which the defender still hasn’t recovered.
“That was an unbelievable moment,” Buchanan recalled. “I was so shocked my shot went in. It was amazing. Not only did I score to put the team up 1-0, but I scored in front of thousands of fans on home soil.
“After I scored, I wanted to dance as a goal celebration because I was so pumped, but (teammate) Christine Sinclair tackled me. I tried to stay up for as long as I could, but she brought me down eventually.”
After the game, reality began to set in for Buchanan.
“I turned to Ashley after the game and said, ‘I just realized that I scored on (USA goalkeeper) Hope Solo’.”
Moments of clarity continue to sneak up on Buchanan, but she doesn’t use her youth or awe as a crutch.
“I’m not really pinching myself,” she said of the opportunities she has earned at a young age. “I do say to myself, ‘Wow, I’m only 18 and playing for my national team,’ but I don’t use that as an excuse. If I make a mistake, I don’t say it’s because I’m 18. I am here because I can play at a senior level.”
Buchanan will be a very big factor in the Canadians’ future success. She has earned the starting nod 18 times for the national team, and the squad’s head coach, John Herdman, has said she has “the chance to be the best player in the world in her position.”
“It’s an honor playing for your country and playing with such amazing players,” Buchanan said. “It’s definitely a dream come true. At a young age, I always dreamed of playing for my national team, but I never thought I would be this young.”
A busy summer training in Canada will conclude with the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada, set for Aug. 5-24. Buchanan will return to Morgantown at the conclusion of the World Cup, and she hopes to take more of a leadership role with the Mountaineers as a sophomore.
“I feel that I am more comfortable and the connection on and off the field with the individual players and the team has gotten stronger,” she explained. “That connection is constantly getting stronger, allowing me to give positive feedback to my teammates.”
Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown believes the knowledge and experience Buchanan, along with Lawrence, will bring back to Morgantown will benefit the entire program.
“Kadeisha is a special player who is taking advantage of all the opportunities that have come her way,” the two-time reigning Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year said. “She had an immediate impact on the game as a freshman, and I’m excited to see her continue to develop throughout her time at WVU.”
Buchanan is eager to return to her “second mom” and her home in Morgantown.
“One of my favorite things about Morgantown is that everyone really supports women’s soccer,” she enthused. “We always get a great amount of fans at every home game.”
Though the start of the 2014 WVU women’s soccer season will mark the beginning of the end of the summer season, the opportunity for Morgantown residents to catch a glimpse of a shooting star will not fade away, for Buchanan’s streak to the top of her sport shows no signs of slowing down.
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