Maddie Secco of Victoria proved a breakout performer for Canada in February at the last-chance Olympic qualifier in Delhi for London 2012.
Unfortunately for the Grade 12 Oak Bay High prodigy, Canada failed in its quest for London and she must wait until at least Rio 2016 to become an Olympian.
That quest begins in a four-game Test series against the London Olympics-bound United States team announced for May 19-23 at the University of Victoria turf pitch. The May 19-20 matches are at 3: 30 p.m., with the May 22-23 game times TBA.
While the U.S. has the immediacy of the London Olympics this summer to prepare for, Canada's goal in now more long term.
"We'll be calling up quite a few juniors as this is the start of the build-up to Rio," said Secco, of a road to 2016 that will include the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2015 Toronto Pan American Games.
"It's going to be exciting for me to be playing at home in these Tests. Especially on the UVic turf, which is one of the best surfaces in Canada."
Of the rising 18-year-old Secco's eight senior caps to date, six were won in the pressure cooker of the recent London Olympics qualifier in Delhi, where Secco scored her first senior international goal against Ukraine as Canada placed fifth.
"That was definitely a big jump for me in terms of the incredible pace and physcial play at the senior international level," said Secco.
"But it hit me most on an inspiration level in being able to wear the Maple Leaf at an Olympic qualifier."
It will be a busy time for Secco - headed to play hockey and study sciences beginning in the fall at Stanford University in California on a full-ride NCAA athletic scholarship - as she also leads the Oak Bay girls' soccer team into the Island high school championship next weekend.
Also on the Canadian roster for the Tests against the U.S. at UVic are Mary Nielson of Cowichan, who plays in the NCAA at Duke, Kate Gillis, daughter of Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis, and UVic Vikes players Kaitlyn Williams and Danielle Hennig.
The Tests will be the first meetings between Canada and the U.S. since the Americans defeated the Canadians 4-2 last fall in the semifinals of the 2011 Guadalajara Pan Am Games.
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