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The Daily Tar Heel

Reddick's Poise Aids U.S. Defense

Poised and thorough, the U.S. women's national team defender signs as many balls, rosters and other fan paraphernalia as possible before being ushered off to the team's post-game meeting.

Her composure is what wins attention.

Reddick, also a junior defender on the North Carolina women's soccer team, earned her 20th cap in the United State's 4-0 win against Italy on Sunday. A little more than two years ago, on July 7, Reddick made her first appearance for the national team, also in a game against Italy -- the United States won 4-1 in that match.

Reddick entered Sunday's game in the 29th minute, coming in for Danielle Slaton, who reportedly felt ill before the match. Reddick's appearance visibly energized the team.

"It was important that Cat came in when 'D' was kind of struggling a bit, and then we lost Slaton," said Hamm, who has played for the national team for 15 years. "Cat's played inside, she's played outside and she's done a great job for us. The thing she brings is she's got this confidence about her."

Despite Reddick's presence, adjusting to the national squad has taken her a little bit more time this year, especially after losing the starting position to Slaton.

"I'm not playing as good as last year, I don't think," Reddick said. "I'm trying to get back to last year. It's been a hard struggle just because I lost my position and now it's harder to get back into the starting position. It's going to be a hard battle but it's going to be fun. I look at it as a challenge."

With three years under her belt, Reddick admits she wasn't always comfortable playing on the international stage.

"The first time I came in, there was a lot more intimidation just because there's Mia Hamm, there's Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly," Reddick said. "But once you get to know them, they're real nice to get to know, and they let you into their group really well. You look at them for leadership."

Forward Cindy Parlow said Reddick's ability to shut down opponents gives her an edge. In the 52nd minute, she eliminated an Italian attack by booting the ball to her awaiting offense.

"Cat brings our defense a different dimension," Parlow said. "She's one of the few players in the country that can serve a ball 50 or 60 yards with ease. But she also brings a great physical dimension in the back line for us. She gives our backline a lot of composure."

In addition to playing with six former Tar Heels, Reddick credits her training with UNC as key to her performance.

"UNC has prepared me," Reddick said. "I've improved so much more than I ever thought I would have. They've prepared me because the practices are really tough."

U.S. coach April Heinrichs, a former Tar Heel herself, knows exactly what those practices were like and uses that to her advantage when training Reddick. Heinrichs said Reddick's talents and her contributions go beyond the defensive third.

"Catherine is one of our young defenders who plays both sides of the ball," Heinrichs said. "She's really what I term the 'new generation' defender where she can play on both sides of the ball, and as a young player, we still feel that her learning curve is still very great."

In three days, Reddick will trade in her dark red and blue U.S. uniform for a lighter shade of blue. And this time she'll be defending her goal against red jerseys.

Reddick returns to the Tar Heels for UNC's first ACC match against N.C. State on Thursday.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I want to get back with my team because I love them."

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