Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Sacred Heart Prep’s Tierna Davidson, left, scored twice in the final 10 minutes to lift the Gators to a 2-1 win over Burlingame in the quarterfinals of the CCS Division III tournament Saturday.
A year after a Central Coast Section semifinal loss to Santa Cruz, the Sacred Heart Prep girls’ soccer team heads into this year’s Division III semifinal as a slight favorite over Scotts Valley. And the Gators’ difference maker this season has been the kid — sophomore midfielder Tierna Davidson.
In her first varsity season, Davidson has been a force through two playoff games. In SHP’s Feb. 25 playoff opener, Davidson tabbed a goal and an assist in a 7-0 win over Pacific Collegiate. Then in Saturday’s quarterfinal, the sweet left foot of Davidson commanded a comeback victory as she scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation to keep the Gators’ season alive with a dramatic 2-1 win over Burlingame.
It’s because of Davidson’s playoff prowess that she has been named the Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
“She is one of the brightest kids that I’ve coached,” Sacred Heart Prep head coach Ramiro Arredondo said. “Just her sense of awareness — she has the ‘it’ factor. That’s what Tierna has.”
Davidson is already being mentioned in the same breath with some heavy-hitting college programs — Stanford, Santa Clara, and Notre Dame to name a few — which puts her way ahead of the recruiting curve. Remember, the kid is still just a sophomore. Still, at 5-8 with a commanding presence on the field, she seems to be well ahead of the playing curve as well.
Her decision not to play varsity soccer as a freshman is proof positive of that. As a member of one of the most prestigious club team in the nation, the De Anza Force 98 Blue, Davidson and her then-freshman teammates had to make a decision whether or not to play high school soccer, which, if they had, would have left the half of the team still in middle school without a team to play for.
“We didn’t think it was fair to stop the team and let half the players go play high school, and the other half have nowhere to play,” Davidson said. “So now that everyone is in high school, they all have a chance to play.”
The decision to stand by her Force teammates — many of whom have played together since they were 9 — ended up being a rewarding one, as the team went on something of an international sweep. After winning the Elite Clubs National League 16-year-old championship in Virginia, the team traveled to San Sebastian, Spain to claim the title in the Youth 16-Division championship in tournament play. More casual Force road trips consist of numerous visits to Washington state and San Diego.
And the Force is ready to roll again this summer, just as soon as all the team members’ high school seasons are completed.
“As soon as this team ends, I have to go straight back to practice,” Davidson said. “Our club practice actually [started yesterday]. But because our team is still going on, I’m going to stick with this until the end.”
Needless to say, Davidson is a year-round soccer player. But that wasn’t always the case. A hyper-athletic kid, she was involved in everything from basketball, to swimming, to baseball and even dance. Since her middle-school commencement from Hillview Middle School though, she has narrowed it down to a strict soccer regiment.
As for her name, there is one other person that she knows of who shares it. Davidson’s mother, a native of Ireland, named Tierna after her lifelong best friend. Otherwise, it is a name that is entirely unique to Davidson.
“I have not met anybody with my name, which is enjoyable,” Davidson said. “Except when people try to pronounce my name and they kind of get thrown off. I mean, my (middle school) graduation, when they were calling people’s names, they called our names for different awards … and to get my diploma. And four different versions of my name were called.”
But there is no confusion once Davidson’s left foot whips into action on the soccer pitch. And as far as her second-year head coach is concerned, she is a welcome addition.
“I think it took the coaching staff about 30 minutes to realize what kind of player we had,” Arredondo said. “Her maturity level is unique. Discipline, work rate, speed, her size … for a player of her size to have such composure, it’s phenomenal.”
And the kid has still got room to grow.