September 19, 2013

Albrecht, Oliver and Huether Retire from Team USA

by Sean Burns | | Twitter

Defender Gina Oliver is one of three U.S. Women's National Team members retiring. She earned All-World honors this summer and was Player of the Game against England in the semifinals.
©Brian Watts/Game Day Photography

While Team USA prepares for its first action since taking home the gold in Oshawa this summer, a trio of its stars - midfielder Sarah Albrecht, defender Gina Oliver and goalkeeper Megan Huether - have decided to retire from the team, exiting the stage as world champions.

Albrecht has played on the U.S. National Team since 2006, winning gold at two FIL World Cups and earning All-World honors at both events. The head women's lacrosse coach at New Hampshire for the past two years, Albrecht scored 22 goals in world cup play, 14 in 2009 in Prague and another eight to go with four assists this summer in Canada.

Oliver also captured gold with Team USA twice, playing with the team from 2006-09 and then rejoining the roster in 2011 for this final run. The University of Cincinnati head coach made All-World in 2009 and led the team with 10 ground balls and seven caused turnovers this summer, earning player of the game against England in the semifinals.

Huether has been with the team since 2008 and also won gold in both 2009 and 2013 with Team USA, sharing time with All-World goalkeeper Devon Willis. The owner and director of Gold Medal Lacrosse, Huether made 16 saves in six games in Oshawa this summer, holding a 4.89 GAA for the tournament.

We asked each three questions to get some more information about their time with Team USA and their decision to move on to other opportunities. Here are their responses:

Why did you decide to step down?

Megan Huether: I have decided to retire for a few reasons. First, playing has taken a toll on my body and I not getting any younger. Most notably, the concussion I sustained on our 2012 touring trip was eye-opening and at this point, I'm not sure I am willing to risk another one. I am also really looking forward to focusing more of my time coaching and mentoring my high school and youth players, and also pursuing non-lacrosse hobbies. Even though I am retiring from playing, I will be staying very involved in the sport.

Gina Oliver: My time with USA was an unbelievable journey. I couldn't have written a better story and now I can focus on my career as a head coach. I am also 30 yrs old! Can't keep up with these young athletes as much anymore! HA!

Sarah Albrecht: Being with the US team for the past seven years has been an unbelievable experience, the camaraderie on the team made it really hard to walk away from it all. In looking ahead four years to the next world cup I felt like it was time to let the younger players fill my shoes. The midfield position is physically demanding and I need to be 100% dedicated to training for the position.

For me it's hard to split my time between being a 2nd year head coach at New Hampshire, training, and maintaining a personal life. I'm an all or nothing type of person and if I can't give it all to my team then I'm short changing them and that's not fair to the team. Coming from the last World Cup, there is such great talent out there I have no doubt that they will thrive without me.

What were the most memorable things you experienced as a member of Team USA?

Albrecht: The camaraderie throughout the program has been a great experience. It is great to see that faces change within the team and still there is a sense of pride and togetherness that you feel. Each team was so different. The first three years we were all new to the experience and it was a rewarding experience to go through the ebbs and flows throughout the years. The last four years we had a mix of experience and newcomers and it was great to find everyone on the same page throughout the tournament, showing a dominating performance. All in all, being together with your teammates is the most memorable thing about being a part of a team. Winning Gold medals is just a culmination of your relationships with your teammates.

Huether: I think it is hard to identify one memory as most memorable - It has been an incredible journey highlighted by two World Championships. As amazing it is to win the gold medal, and both championships are wonderful memories, I think the most amazing part of the experience are the friendships and relationships with all of my US teammates. Competing for a common goal really brought us together and we pushed each other to be better every day on the field and we had so much fun together off the field.

Oliver: This is a loaded question! I was able to travel to different countries as a member of team USA, I was able to form incredible bonds and friendships with teammates and coaches, and I was also blessed to impact the lives of younger females playing the game that I love! Winning two gold medals was a pretty big deal too!

Do you take anything from your experience that you hope to use in your coaching career?

Huether: There are a few lessons that I try to instill in my athletes. The first is to take advantage of every opportunity they have to play and to make the most of it, and the second is to take risks and not to be afraid of failure.

Oliver: Absolutely! I played with the US program for nine years! There were so many ups, downs, failures, and successes! The most important to me is being a competitor. I was never the best lacrosse player, but I pride myself on being a true competitor. And that has always been one of my main philosophies as a coach.

Albrecht: Absolutely! The underlining determination that every player puts forth for the team is something that I constantly want my team to be able to experience. It is an unreal feeling to have a team on the same page and moving in the same direction. There is nothing like it. The other experience that has been great to see are the puzzle pieces that are put together throughout the years. There have been many great players cut from the roster, but it is all about a unit of players, playing together. Some puzzle pieces just don't fit... sometimes there is not good reason for it, but once you find the right pieces you come up with a great team.

Team USA returns to action for the first time since winning the World Cup this summer Oct. 12-13 in Annapolis and Towson, Md., at the US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend, where they'll take on Georgetown, Navy, Stanford, and Towson. Admission is free, and Sunday's games will be televised on ESPN3.

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