Natalie Ambrose is a standout Outlaws soccer player, headed for a college career at Columbia University. photo by Rongi Yost
Senior soccer standout Natalie Ambrose has verbally committed to play soccer for Columbia University in New York City next fall. Ambrose will play at outside defender for the prestigious Division 1 Ivy League School.
Ambrose started playing soccer when she was six years old. At age eight, Natalie started to play club ball while living in Lake Oswego and has been a part of a club team ever since.
Natalie is in her fourth year as a varsity player for Sisters High School's (SHS) soccer team and has played at a variety of positions, including center midfield, forward and center defender. She has played on the Bend FC Timbers club team for the past four years.
At the close of her eighth-grade year, while still living in Bend, Ambrose was a part Oregon Rush, a nationwide club. Natalie's coach asked if she would like to play for the Colorado Rush along with two other Bend teammates.
Ambrose and her two Bend teammates committed to play for Colorado Rush and met them in Portland for the Manchester Cup. Colorado Rush (CR) won the tournament and earned an all-expense-paid trip to Sweden funded by Nike. CR competed against other teams from Sweden, England, Holland and India and went on to win the international tournament (the Gothic
Natalie continued to play for the Colorado Rush throughout high school. Competing in an Elite Clubs National League event in San Diego, Ambrose was noticed by Coach Kevin McCarthy of Columbia University.
When Ambrose returned home from San Diego she received an email from McCarthy expressing interest, and Ambrose was asked to contact him if she was interested in playing soccer.
Natalie called McCarthy and peppered him with questions.
"I was really impressed after talking with him," said Ambrose. "He had so much enthusiasm, not only for the soccer program, but also for the school in general. We kept in contact and I let him know I'd be at the ECNL showcase event in New Jersey the end of May."
Ambrose arrived a day early and she and her dad, Chris, visited the Columbia campus.
"School was already out but I wanted to get a feel for the campus," said Ambrose. "He (McCarthy) came to the tournament the next day and watched me play. Coaches aren't allowed to speak with prospective players so we waved and just said hi from afar.
"After that I knew I'd fallen in love with the school and the soccer program," said Ambrose. "It has a really good mixture of athletics and academics which was crucial for me in finding the right school."
Ambrose will sign an official letter of intent next spring and in the fall will head across the country to play at outside defender for the Columbia University Lions.
Natalie admitted she is a bit nervous about what lies ahead but at the same time is ready for the adventure.
"I'm definitely nervous because it's going to be a new experience, and it's so far away from home," she said. "But, at the same time I'm excited for the opportunity that will be presented to me through soccer and the school."
Ambrose told The Nugget she had many people to thank for helping her get to this point in her soccer career.
"I want to give a huge shout-out to the Sisters coaches and the community in general," said Ambrose. "They've given me so much support and encouraged me to dream and reach for the stars. Even though I'm going to be hundreds of miles from home I'll take a piece of Sisters with me and Sisters will always be in my
Sisters High School's girls' soccer coach, Audrey Tehan, told The Nugget that Ambrose will have no trouble making the transition to the collegiate level.
"Natalie's work ethic and skill will allow her to excel at the Division 1 collegiate level," said Tehan. "I feel fortunate to get to work with such a talented athlete and a humble individual. Natalie is an amazing defender and has endless energy on the field. Her endurance and speed are rare to come across, and this combined with her technical skills on the ball make her a vital asset to the team. Natalie's control of the ball is amazing, making her deadly when she gets the ball at the feet and starts running up the field. She is also an extremely humble individual who likes to see her teammates excel more than