June 1, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama midfielder Merel Van Dongen is one of 31 players to earn a roster spot on the preliminary Netherlands National Women’s Soccer Team, it was announced on Saturday.
The squad, which will compete at the 2013 European Championships July 10-28 in Sweden, is set to open training camp on June 10.
“Everyone in our program is happy for Merel as we all know how hard she has been working for this opportunity,” UA soccer head coach Todd Bramble said. “It’s a pleasant surprise that she was called in for this event. She is a young player who is in the midst of her development. That just speaks to the potential she has and the bright future that is ahead.
“I am proud Alabama Soccer has played a role in helping her get to this point of her career,” Bramble said.
Van Dongen will depart Tuscaloosa on Sunday and is excited for the chance to represent the Netherlands.
“This has been something I have always worked toward,” Van Dongen said. “It’s a dream of mine to play for my country. It is a huge step in my career and I am thankful for this opportunity.”
Van Dongen said that her time at Alabama has helped her reach her goal of competing internationally.
“Alabama is everything I wanted in terms of overall university life and especially the soccer team,” Van Dongen said. “It is very competitive and I have learned so much during my time here. I am happy to see the hard work is paying off.”
The Netherlands will be in Group B at the three-week long European Women’s Soccer Championship and will be paired with Germany (July 11), Norway (July 14) and Iceland (July 17).
Van Dongen and the Dutch will play friendlies on its home soil against Australia (June 29) and Northern Ireland (July 3) before making the trek to Sweden.
Following the friendlies, head coach Roger Reijners will trim the roster to the 23-person team, which will represent their country in the competition.
Van Dongen comes into the 2013 Alabama season looking to build on a successful 2012 campaign in which she became the first player in UA program history to be named the SEC Freshman of the Year. In addition, the Amsterdam, Netherlands, native was named as an All-SEC second-team performer, TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Freshman Team of the Season and NSCAA All-South Region performer.
Van Dongen earned the accolades after scoring nine points on three goals and three assists. Seven of the nine points were recorded during Southeastern Conference play. She finished second on the team among field players in minutes played with 1,609 and started all 19 matches last season as a true freshman.