Hayley Siegel and her Centennial girls' soccer teammates gathered together for the broadcast of the U.S. women's soccer team defeating Brazil for the Olympic gold medal last week.

The senior midfielder understood how much winning in Athens meant to the Americans because she plays for the U.S. Women's Under-17 National team and has scrimmaged against several of the Olympic players.

"Getting to play against Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Brandy Chastain is just an incredible experience and an honor," said Siegel of her experience last March. "You see how hard they work so they can be some of the best players in the world."

But to Siegel, a two-time All-Met, wearing the national team jersey for the past two years and playing exhibitions against Germany and Canada as she did this past spring, is a delicate subject.

"I keep what I do on the national team separate and don't talk about it now," she said. "That's not going to help our [high school] team reach our goal."

The University of Santa Clara-bound Siegel's mission this fall is to finish her career at Centennial the same way it started: with a state title. It would be a fitting ending to a high school career that has seen her use her soccer skill and intelligence to and emerge as one of 17 players selected to the national team.

"I'm not very fast at all [compared to other national team players], and that's something I need to work on, but I have good endurance and that helps me," said Siegel, who ran two miles in 12 minutes, which is five seconds faster than all but one other Centennial soccer player, a player on the boys' team. "On the field, I'm just always thinking ahead of where I need to be and then I use my athleticism."

"She's always wanted to be a soccer player," said Chris Siegel, Hayley's mom. "Even when she was in kindergarten, the first thing we did before school was we'd kick the ball around on our front lawn."

Siegel, who posted seven goals and 10 assists last year despite being constantly double-teamed, is methodical on the field. She uses her 5-foot-4 frame to shield the ball from an opponent and, with a flick of her foot, spins past her defender. She can read the defense almost instantly and deliver a pass to a teammate in scoring position.

"She's a phenomenal player and we depend a lot on her," said Centennial Coach Mike Senisi, whose team returns five starters from last year's team that finished 11-3-2. "She's a very competitive person, but she doesn't have an ego. She'll go over and help one of our younger players because she knows it will help us be the best team we can."

"On the field, I'm just always thinking ahead of where I need to be," said Centennial senior midfielder Hayley Siegel.