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Conference of (World Cup) Champions

The PAC-12 left their mark on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Photo by Catherine Ivill - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Unless you’ve just recently awoken from a coma, you’re probably aware that the US Women’s National Team continued their streak of dominance and took another World Cup title, making it two in a row and fourth overall. We here at Pacific Takes think we should take a moment to congratulate and highlight the PAC-12 alumni who all were vital to the USWNT in their historic run.

Alex Morgan (Cal, 2010) has been one of Team USA’s biggest stars for awhile now, but before her first World Cup appearance in 2011 she was a stud for the Golden Bears. She’s third all-time in school history for goals (45) and points (103) and most likely would have broken those records had she not been fulfilling International Duty in the World Cup Qualifiers. Cal made the NCAA tournament in four consecutive seasons thanks in large part to Morgan’s effort on the field.

Flash forward to 2019 and Morgan tied a record with five goals in the opener against Thailand (who also featured a Cal alum, Miranda Nild), scored the deciding goal on her birthday in the Semifinal against England, and tied teammate Megan Rapinoe for most goals in this World Cup (6 total).

Abby Dahlkemper (UCLA, 2014) and Samantha Mewis (UCLA, 2014) were both critical to the Bruin’s National Championship run in 2013 and the USWNT World Cup run this year. Dahlkemper started all seven games at center back, while Mewis appeared in six games (rested against Chile in the Group Stage) and started five games at left midfielder.

Back at UCLA, Dahlkemper was an NSCAA All-American all four years and in 2013 took home the Honda Award, which is the award given to the best female collegiate athlete in all twelve major sports. The following season, Mewis would take home the Honda Award along with PAC-12 player of the year, and was named espnW National Player of the Year while totaling sixteen goals on the season.

NCAA Photos Archive
Samantha Mewis at UCLA

While she only logged three Spring games during her time in Westwood, Mallory Pugh is one of the brightest young soccer talents in all of Women’s soccer and is still part of the Bruin family. Pugh made the decision to turn pro after just a few months at UCLA and now plays for the Washington Spirit in the NWSL.

Despite a roster filled with former UCLA athletes, none of the current Bruins on the USWNT played for head coach Jill Ellis during her stint at UCLA. Ellis was the head coach of the Bruins from 1999-2010 where she compiled six straight PAC-10 titles (2003-2008) and eight straight final four appearances (2003-2009) though she was never able to get UCLA over the natty hump. Nevertheless, she left Westwood with a total of 229 wins.

Christen Press (Stanford, 2010) may hold the record at Stanford with 71 goals over the course of her Cardinal career, however it is hard to imagine that any of those compare to her opening goal in the tenth minute against England in the Semifinal.

In her Stanford days, Press was the MAC’s Herman Trophy winner in 2010, which is essentially the Heisman of Women’s college soccer, and helped lead Stanford to a third place finish in 2008 along with another future USWNT teammate, Kelly O’Hara (Stanford, 2009). O’Hara started six games at right back in the 2019 World Cup (rested against Chile just like Mewis) and was a focal point of a stout and tenacious backline for the US while also contributing on offense with two assists. O’Hara actually received the Herman Trophy in 2009 prior to Press, and was the first Stanford player to win it. Eventually, the Cardinal would actually go on to three-peat the award when Teresa Noyola (member of the Mexico World Cup squad in 2011 and 2015) won the trophy in 2011.

Tierna Davidson (Stanford, 2018) made her World Cup debut for the USWNT as she totaled two assists in a 3-0 win against Chile. Davidson had a decorated career at Stanford including National Championship over UCLA in 2017. Davidson, then a sophomore, won College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player and was part of the All-Tournament team. Unfortunately, her junior year was cut short after an ankle injury, but she wound up being selected first overall in the 2019 NWSL Draft.

Also, Stanford gets some bonus points since star midfielder Julie Ertz (Santa Clara) met her husband, former Stanford stand-out tight end, Zach Ertz, at a Cardinal baseball game.

While the US Women’s National Team was the story and champion, we certainly want to give love to all the other PAC-12 alumni and current student-athletes who suited up for different countries in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Pacific-Northwest campuses made their presence felt as Jodie Taylor (Oregon State, 2007) knocked in the lone goal in England’s win in the Group Stage against Argentina to secure a spot in the Knockout Stage. Additionally, the Jamaican National Team found themselves with some help from up north as Mierya Grey (Washington, Current) and Marloa Sweatman (Oregon, 2016) suited up for their home country.

England v Cameroon: Round Of 16 - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France
Oregon State alum Jodie Taylor coming on as a sub for England against Cameroon in the Round of 16
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The California campuses were also well-represented internationally as three other Golden Bears took the pitch in France. As mentioned earlier, Miranda Nild (Cal, 2018) made her World Cup debut for Thailand and started all three of her squad’s games. Meanwhile, midfielders Betsy Hasset (Cal, 2012) and Daisy Cleverley (Cal, Current) teamed up with forward Rosie White (UCLA, 2014) and defender Ali Riley (Stanford, 2009) to represent New Zealand. The Bruins also watched a couple of their own rising seniors take what is probably the coolest study abroad trip ever. Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah (UCLA, Current) and Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming (UCLA, Current) each found themselves on their respective national teams and reached the Round of 16.