National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will have its semifinal playoff rounds played this weekend. The NWSL Championship match is scheduled for next Saturday afternoon from Orlando, Florida. All 4 NWSL playoff squads will have a familiar face to Cal fans as there is one Cal Women’s Soccer alum on each of the 4 NWSL playoff teams in 2017. All the NWSL playoff matches, scheduled for 12:30 PM PT, will be broadcasted live on Lifetime.
Today (10/7) at 12:30 PM PT: Orlando Pride at Portland Thorns FC
Cal alum Alex Morgan, the highest profile women’s soccer player in the world who shared the FIFA cover with Leo Messi last year, may have been in the news for the wrong reason recently. Nevertheless, Morgan will look to lead her team, Orlando Pride to a road victory this afternoon against her former team, Portland Thorns FC, which includes Cal alum Celeste Boureille.
Alex Morgan, Cal Bears superstar from 2007 to 2010, has won her share of club championships. Drafted by the Western New York Flash in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league (NWSL predecessor), Morgan won the WPS title in her rookie year. Since the inception of NWSL, Morgan won the inaugural NWSL title in 2012 with the Portland Thorns FC. This past season, Morgan went over to Lyon and won the Women’s Champions League. Despite all these championships, Morgan’s club career has been plagued by injuries. 2017 may be the first time when Alex Morgan is healthy enough to take centerstage in the club playoffs.
Despite the injuries, Morgan credit her time at Lyon, the richest women’s soccer club team in the world, for greatly improving her technical abilities. Morgan only rejoined her Orlando Pride team in the end of July, after suffering an injury in the Champions League final. However, Morgan was quite effective once healthy. She was the NWSL Player of the Month for the Month of August.
Morgan is part of a dynamic forward duo with Brazilian star Marta for the Pride. Despite being the last team to clinch a NWSL playoffs (but eventually moved up to the 3rd seed), Pride is as likely as anyone to win the championship, particularly with it taking place in their home ballpark next week.
Standing in the way of the Pride is Portland Thorns FC. Cal alum, midfielder Celeste Boureille has been a key player for the Thorns, starting many games earlier in the year before finding herself on the bench in the last month.
Boureille, Cal Bears from 2012 to 2015, has started 13 matches this year in addition to 4 sub appearances to help the Thorns to the 2nd best regular season record in NWSL. This is Boureille’s 2nd season with the Thorns although she played some of last season on loan to Canberra United of the W-League in Australia.
Tomorrow (10/8) at 12:30 PM PT: Chicago Red Stars at North Carolina Courage
Cal alum Taylor Comeau, 2011-2014, is a starting defensive midfielder for the Chicago Red Stars. Comeau, who really elevated her game her senior year, has thrived in the NWSL. While she is not counted on to enter the scoresheet as much as her senior year at Cal, Comeau has saw a lot of play time.
Her lone NWSL goal came late in the season last year.
NC Courage is top team in the 2017 regular season of NWSL. Cal alum Sam Witteman, 2012-2015, is a reserve on that squad. Drafted by Orlando Pride, Witteman played her rookie year along side Alex Morgan before being traded to NC Courage in 2017.
Witteman has saw action in 12 matches so far this year. Despite having the knack to score game winning goals during her Cal career, Witteman is playing more midfield/defender in the NWSL.
Best of luck to all four Golden Bears in the NSWL this and next weekend.