From the start of this season, if you were to ask anybody on the women's soccer team about freshman midfielder Katie Duong, it would be nothing but praise.
"The kid battles her heart out. It's kind of unlike anything that you've seen as a freshman, with the number of minutes she's logging," head coach Stefanie Golan said. "When she gets on a ball face up in the attacking third, the things that she sees and the balls that she can execute are super dangerous," Golan said.
After a brief departure from Minnesota's squad at the beginning of the season to attend the U-20 Women's National Team Camp, Duong returned to the team and put in the work.
She's been a consistent playmaker for the team ever since and has made plays most young players can't make. Even with the growing pains Minnesota has had this season, Duong has made an impact across the board. She played the entire 110 minutes of the Gophers' overtime tie with Michigan State and recorded her season-high for shots on goal (5).
Junior midfielder Athena Kuehn, who scored a game-winning header off an assist from Duong against NC State, said that Duong is the most confident freshman she's ever played with.
Kuehn added that Duong is an all-around talent. Whether that be playing aggressively, making passes or taking shots, her maturity can bee seen on and off the field.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Duong's skill and dedication to the game have been evident from a young age. She received U-14 and U-15 Camp invites from the Women's National team and was part of two state championship teams at Jesuit High School.
At her club team, Crossfire Premier, Duong went far in national competitions, but it was a sacrifice to train with them which was based three hours away from Duong in Redmond, Washington. To supplement that training, Duong practiced with a local boys' club, which is something she credits for helping her adjust to the pace of the college game.
In person, Duong is humble, crediting coaches and teammates who she's trained with.
Even with opportunities like invitations to the U-20 Women's National Team Camp, Duong said, "I think I got to play with some amazing players there [U-20 Camp]. To be able to go play at that speed of play and then transition back to here, I think I learned a lot of things from playing with those players."
A player with a resume like Duong's isn't something that comes into a Minnesota program every recruiting class, and she will certainly be a player to watch in the seasons to come.
Duong and the rest of team head to Madison for a battle against the top Big Ten team in the conference Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m.