Alabama soccer standout Reyna Reyes plays in international spotlight

Alabama soccer standout Reyna Reyes plays in international spotlight

Alabama women’s soccer standout Reyna Reyes played on the Mexico women’s national football team this summer. Now, she’s back in Tuscaloosa representing the Crimson Tide. 

Alabama holds a record of 1-1-0 after beating Jacksonville State 4-0 for the home opener then falling to No. 1 ranked Florida State. Reyes started both games and earned Alabama’s first goal of the season 10 minutes into the opener.  

Reyes’ successful freshman and sophomore seasons, along with her prolific youth career at the international level, attracted the attention of the senior national team earlier this year. Reyes was called away from the Crimson Tide and onto the Mexico women’s national football team training camp.

Despite her time away from Tuscaloosa and the program, Reyes finished her sophomore season with record numbers. A midfielder and defender, the dual threat tied third for points earned on the season after scoring two goals and providing two assists throughout the 2020-2021 season.

Both of Reyes’ goals were back-to-back game winning goals against Montevallo and Lipscomb. Reyes started all 14 of her appearances for the Crimson Tide and notched 1,197 minutes on the field in the process.

She was named to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-Southeast Region in May for the second year in a row. 

Reyes’ Crimson Tide teammate, center forward Riley Mattingly, said Reyes returned to Tuscaloosa with an “added confidence” after being called to the senior national team. 

“She brought up her level of play and the level of play around her with all of us,” Mattingly said. 

Reyes has represented Mexico on the international soccer stage with a combined 25 appearances and four goals across competitions at the Under-17, Under-19 and Under-20 levels.

In 2016, Reyes was part of the team that won the 2016 FIFA U-17 World Cup. She finished second in both the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship.

As a member of the Under-20 squad, Reyes was part of teams that finished second in the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship and fourth in the 2019 Sud Ladies Cup. Reyes was named to the tournament Best XI and scored a goal in the Sud Ladies Cup.

Reyes’ was first called to the senior national team in February. She debuted in an international friendly against Costa Rica on Feb. 24, which ended in a scoreless draw. Reyes was called on again for international duty in April and June.

“I am the second youngest on the team currently, and right now I am just looking up to the seniors on the team for guidance while also incorporating my own version of myself into Mexico’s playing style,” Reyes said. 

In April, Reyes made her first start in a friendly against Slovakia, which resulted in another 0-0 draw. Reyes and the senior Mexican Women’s National Team fell 5-0 against Japan in an international friendly match in June. Despite falling against Japan, Reyes was one of 18 players to make the gameday roster. 

Mattingly said she believes Reyes’ work ethic has always been unmatched and is to credit for her appearance on the Mexico women’s national football team. . 

“She never stopped working hard; she always put her head down and grinded it out,” Mattingly said. “I think she’s being rewarded for her work.” 

Most recently, the Mexico women’s national football team sharpened the skills of the U.S. women’s national team before it headed to the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. beat Mexico 4-0 on July 1 in a friendly match in Connecticut. Reyes made the 18-person gameday roster and was subbed in at the 78th minute.

Abigail King, team manager for Alabama women’s soccer, said she and Reyes’ teammates watched her face off against the defending World Cup Champions. 

“It’s surreal to see someone I see work so hard every day take the field with some of the greats,” she said. 

“When she got subbed in, everyone was going crazy,” Mattingly said. “Everyone was sending Snapchats to each other and texting in our group chat. It was fun.” 

The U.S. women’s national team posted a photo of Reyes defending against team standout Tobin Heath. Mattingly said many of her teammates reposted the image on their Instagram stories. 

“It’s been really cool to see pictures of her going up against some really great players,” Mattingly said. 

Reyes received the starting nod in Mexico’s second match against the United States on July 6. Reyes was slotted in Mexico’s back line and was tasked with the tall order of defending against U.S. veterans Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath and Christen Press. 

Reyes faced the United States’ relentless attack, playing a part in an own goal at the 37th minute and later receiving a yellow card. However, Reyes said she is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the team and to develop her playing style.  

“I feel good about my performances in those matches given my nerves and lack of experience at this level,” Reyes said. “I will not take [these experiences] for granted.” 

On Friday, July 9, Alabama Soccer announced its fall 2021 schedule. Reyes said she feels confident in Alabama’s skill and roster depth headed into the season. 

“Every team has things they can work on, but this is definitely the hardest working group we’ve had since I’ve been a part of this team here at Alabama,” she said. “I’m sure if we have a problem we can work together to fix it fast.” 

Reyes said her goal in her third year at Alabama is to be a role model for her teammates, both on and off the field. 

Fans can watch her play next at the Alabama Soccer Complex on Friday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. CT as the Tide takes on Lamar University. 

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