Diana Matheson '08 (© Beverly Schaefer)

Princeton women’s soccer fans remember Diana Matheson ’08 for her dynamic and tireless play in the midfield during four All-Ivy seasons, including a memorable freshman year in which she helped her team reach the NCAA College Cup semifinals and became one of the program’s first All-Americans in over a decade. (Esmeralda Negron ’05, who recently rejoined the Tigers as an assistant coach, was an All-American that season as well.)

Tiger followers also may recall that Matheson, a native of Oakville, Ontario, had a distinguished career with the Canadian national team, beginning in 2003, when she deferred admission to Princeton in order to play for her country at the Women’s World Cup (Canada finished fourth). Matheson donned the red-and-white again in 2007 Cup, missing a couple of weeks of class at the start of her senior year, and played for Canada at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

After scoring five goals in international play in 2010, Matheson is back on the pitch this week as the vice-captain of Canada’s 2011 Women’s World Cup squad. The team dropped its opener to host Germany, 2-1, June 26, but will have two more chances to prove itself in group play, facing France June 30 and Nigeria July 5.

According to columnist Richard Starnes of The Ottawa Citizen, Matheson will be a key factor as Canada tries to advance from the group stage:

“Often [Matheson] slips under the radar, something that may have hindered her progress in the past. To the casual observer she is seldom noticed. Closer scrutiny shows she is always on the go. She is the engine of the Canadian team and it is hard to imagine Canada making the strong challenge it is capable of in Germany if she has a bad tournament.

However, there’s the true worth of the player, the reason why [Canadian coach Carolina] Morace relies on Matheson so heavily. She hardly ever has a bad game. She has deceptive speed, superior skill and the strong decision-making ability that can make her a game changer.

Midfielders who always seem to have time to make their moves are seldom rushed and can set the tempo to suit the team. Matheson has that ability.”

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