Crystal Dunn, a Rockville Centre native and a University of North Carolina soccer standout, has been nominated for an ESPN ESPY Award for Best Female College Athlete.
Dunn, who graduated from South Side High School in 2009, has been a starting midfielder at UNC since her freshman year, consistently racking up honors for her play, ranging from ACC Defensive Player of the Year in her freshman year to the MAC Hermann Trophy, NCAA soccer’s highest honor, in 2012. Last December, after playing outside back for the American team that defeated Germany 1-0 in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup last September in Japan, she helped lead UNC to its 21st NCAA women’s soccer championship.
Dunn, who turned 21 on July 3, was excited about her ESPY nomination. “I heard probably about five days ago,” she said the day before her birthday. “I was still at school, and I got this email from my athletic director, and I was like, this is amazing. It’s been a very long eight months — it’s kind of been nonstop, go, go, go — and this is just adding on to a successful year I had. It’s obviously an honor to be recognized.”
Having grown up in soccer-friendly Rockville Centre and been strongly encouraged by her parents, Dunn has played the sport since age 4, and won numerous awards for her play at South Side High School. She was named a Parade All-American and a New York Player of the Year in 2009, and competed for the All-State First Team in three of her four high school seasons. In addition to her commitment to the Lady Cyclones, she played for club teams including the Albertson Fury, the Rockville Centre Tornadoes and the Rockville Centre Power, with which she won a state title.
And after her consistent stellar play as a starter at UNC, where she majors in sociology, she caught the collective eye of the U.S. women’s national soccer team coaching staff, which called her up to play against South Korea in June. “It’s actually really weird, because it’s obviously very hard to make this team,” Dunn said. “I told my parents I’d give myself until 26 to make the team, and it’s pretty much a dream come true. I’m young and inexperienced, and for Tom to give me a shot is something special,” she said, referring to head coach Tom Sermanni.