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Angelina Vargas '23 Set to Join Dominican Republic National Women's Soccer Team

Rudy Brandl

Angelina Vargas ’23 is ready to make the most of an opportunity that most 16-year-olds can only dream about. The Wardlaw+Hartridge junior was selected to join the Dominican Republic women’s national soccer team and while her emotions run from excitement to nervousness, she’s approaching the challenge with a motivated mindset.

“I have to go there and prove myself,” said Angelina, who departed for the DR on October 18 for a week of training in preparation for two international friendlies vs. Bolivia. “I’m going to be playing with a lot of older girls and it’s a little bit intimidating, but it’s a really great opportunity for me.”

Dominican coaches discovered Angelina’s talent through videos posted on Instagram by Players Development Academy (PDA), her club team, and Advanced Physical and Technical Training (AP2T), the facility at which she trains with W+H alumnus Mike Olim ’04 and his staff. She was surprised by the invitation to join the DR team at first but her video footage is very impressive.

“It’s probably my speed and aggressiveness that they saw,” Angelina said. “I get up and down the field fast and I run back to help the defense. I try to be a good teammate overall.”

“This is very exciting. It’s not every day that one of your players gets a call up to a national team,” veteran W+H head coach Mike Romeo said. “I believe this amazing opportunity is just the beginning for her. She’s a very determined athlete and a great competitor. Angelina has worked very hard. Her pace and goal scoring ability are at an elite level. I’m sure that’s what caught their eye, but they will find out that Angelina is much more than just a fast athlete. She has developed into a great soccer player that has the ability to compete at any level of play.”

Angelina has been dominating on the high school pitch this fall with 21 goals, which leads the Rams and ranks among the state’s top scorers. Her departure comes at a time when the Rams are competing in the playoffs, but she’s confident her teammates will come through.

“It’s unfortunate that I have to leave in the middle of the GMCs, but they’re going to be fine,” said Angelina, who will stay up to date on her schoolwork after receiving packets from her teachers. “Coach Romeo always has a game plan.”

Angelina knows she’ll be tested as the youngest member of the Dominican national team, but she’ll have the support of her immediate and extended family. She’ll enjoy a family reunion with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

“My family is all from there and my parents are going with me,” she said. “They all live there and they’re all so excited for me.”

Angelina expects the workouts to be rigorous, with morning conditioning sessions in the gym and three-hour practices later in the day. There will also be some double sessions.

“I’ve trained with professional players before, so I’ll fit in,” she said. “I’ll just try to prove myself at practice so I can get on the field in the games. It’s not really hitting me yet but I’m so excited.”