FRISCO, Texas — Here’s a scary thought for women’s national soccer teams around the world: Crystal Dunn believes she is just getting started.
The 23-year-old Rockville Centre native put her best foot forward in a scintillating performance Monday night, striking for a record-tying five goals in the United States’ 10-0 Group A win in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship over Puerto Rico.
“I would like to think this is a special moment,” she said. “I would like to think there is more to come. I will hold it in my back pocket for now.”
The 2009 Newsday Long Island girls’ soccer player of the year found herself in some lofty company. She became the seventh USA women’s player to tally five goals in a game, joining such legends as Abby Wambach, Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain and Tiffeny Milbrett.
“I can’t believe I’m amongst some really great names,” Dunn said with a big smile.
During her time at South Side, where she won three state titles, youth powerhouse Albertson Fury, and in the National Women’s Soccer League, where she won the scoring crown and MVP with the Washington Spirit last season, Dunn never scored five goals in a game.
“It’s not like it’s easy to score this many goals,” she said. “Especially to do it on this team is incredible.”
Dunn doubled her international goal total to 10 in 24 appearances while earning player of the match honors. Playing forward rather than midfield, she struck in the sixth, 21st, 61st, 85th and 87th minutes. She also assisted on one goal.
“That’s her most comfortable position,” USA coach Jill Ellis said. “Crystal worked really hard. It’s tremendous for her and for her confidence.”
Nevertheless, she must refine her game. Ellis replaced Dunn at halftime of the 1-0 win against defensive-minded Mexico Saturday after she had trouble finding space on the wing.
“It is really hard when the teams play a back five and there is no space wide. That’s just more experience in dealing with that kind of opponent,” Ellis said. “That’s the next step for Crystal.”
Dunn and her teammates haven’t completed their top priority: securing an Olympic berth. The Americans (3-0-0, 16 goals for, none against) will meet the Group B runner-up — Trinidad & Tobago, a 5-1 winner over Guyana last night in Houston — in the semifinals, also in Houston, on Friday for a berth in Rio.
“We haven’t secured a spot yet,” Dunn said. “This is a great step for us. We are going to be focused. We have work to do.
“There is always going to be pressure for us. We’re preparing for a high-quality game and securing a ticket to Rio.”