Prior to her collegiate days, Amanda Rooney managed to elude adversity with regularity.
Now, after an arduous three-season journey that included a myriad of injuries and a massive transfer decision, she can finally call herself an NCAA women’s soccer champion.
Rooney, a Hicksville native, is a junior midfielder on the University of Southern California team that beat West Virginia in the national title game, 3-1, on Dec. 4.
“It’s unreal,” Rooney said. “It’s something I always wanted to do since I was very young. I always wanted to win at least one. We believed it was a possibility throughout the season.”
Despite scoring just one goal during the season, USC coach Keidane McAlpine noted Rooney’s substantial impact on the championship game.
“In the second half she moved into different places defensively,” McAlpine said. “We moved her into more of a holding role. Through her possession and soccer IQ she was smart and allowed us to keep possession.
“The moment wasn’t too big for her.”
Following her wild ride, how could it be?
Though she only played two seasons with the Hicksville girls soccer team, Rooney was highly-recruited because of her accomplishments at the club level. She committed to the University of North Carolina in 2013. But after a fractured ankle in March of 2015 and her discontent with the system, she transferred to USC. A speedy recovery from the broken ankle enabled her to play in the Trojans’ season opener on Aug. 1.
Injuries still managed to plague Rooney early in her USC days. She suffered a dislocated shoulder in North Carolina in a non-conference matchup against Duke later that month.
“I did think about how my injuries kept happening in North Carolina. It was horrible,” Rooney said. “I can’t tell you how many nights I stayed up thinking about that.”
But Rooney overcame her injuries and displayed her championship calibre this past season under McAlpine.
Before McAlpine, Rooney was under the instruction of Michael Demakis, her club coach of eight seasons with the Albertson Elite Fury of the Elite Club National League. He believes Rooney’s relentless work ethic was the key.
“I think her commitment to excellence is what’s made her so successful,” Demakis said. “From the first day, at 10 years old, she sacrificed for the next eight years what it meant to be a kid.”
Rooney has been training with the Long Island Fury of Women’s Premiere Soccer League since she was 14.
Under McAlpine’s tutelage at USC, Rooney believes she can some day play professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“He’s doing everything in his power to make me the best player I can be and to prepare me for a playing career afterwards,” Rooney said.
Whether or not she makes it to the NWSL, Rooney is seeking a career in pro sports. She is majoring in philosophy, politics and law in hopes of becoming a sports agent.
For now, Rooney is elated having battled through injuries and turmoil.
“I had no previous regrets making the moves to UNC and USC,” Rooney said. “But after winning a national championship, this really feels like the right move and it was the exact reason why I transferred to USC.”