FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In less than a week, Northern Arizona University women's soccer player Ali Lixandru will head to Spain to represent the Romanian national soccer team. Lixandru, who is the first player to receive the call up since Alexia Gonzalez played with the Mexican national team in the summer of 2013, will spend a week overseas to train and play a total of three games against Ireland, Norway and Spain.
"It's probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me," Lixandru said. "Every player dreams of doing something more when they have grown up around the game. It's definitely exciting to be able to play at the international level."
The junior forward played a career-high 13 games in the 2015 campaign, notching her first career goal and assist against Robert Morris University on Sept. 20. After talking to Head Coach Andre Luciano about the potential opportunity, contacting the federation and sending in a highlight tape and player resume, there was no turning back.
"A lot of the process is a matter of hunting down federations and emailing them over and over again until you get a response," Luciano explained. "Luckily for Ali, there was a contact point in the United States with a college coach. From there, the federation contacted that college coach and the college coach contacted us."
In Lixandru's mind, this opportunity is even more meaningful since her father is from Romania. For a player who has kept her eyes on the prize since stepping foot on NAU's campus nearly two years ago, her patience and determination seems to be paying off.
"Here's a player that has worked extremely hard to get into our starting lineup over the last couple of years," Luciano said. "We try to preach that good things happen when you're patient, and anytime you get to represent a national team, it's an incredible opportunity and honor. Being able to go to Spain, train with the team and play against quality opponents can honestly be life changing."
In a matter of days, the Phoenix, Ariz. native will be soaking in the opportunity of a lifetime; an opportunity that, quite frankly, can be hard to come by.
"Women's soccer is so strong in the United States," Luciano said. "I think every country in the world recognizes how solid the foundation is in terms of player development, and they'll look to bring second generation players in. On a global scale, you'll find a lot of United States-based players that have some heritage. But in terms of just the randomness of how Ali's opportunity happened, it is somewhat rare. I am really happy for and proud of her. I wish Ali nothing but success on this trip."
In just a few short words, Lixandru summed up her feelings as being on "cloud nine."