The WCC has long been a powerful soccer conference, especially in the Northwest where soccer is huge. Some of the greatest national success the WCC has had in any sport has come in soccer, especially women’s soccer. So it’s no surprise that the current USA National Team features multiple WCC alumni as they prepare to face Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the two former WCC players representing the conference in the tournament.
Megan Rapinoe, Portland: Rapinoe is one of the most recognizable players on the current roster, and comes from the soccer power of Portland. The former Pilot has been a highly touted player since high school. She was named a Parade Magazine All-American coming out high school, and she played for the USA Under-19 National Team before ever setting foot on the Portland campus.
In college, she burst onto the scene in her first season. She recored the 5th highest point total for a freshman in program history while starting all 25 games as a midfielder. It led to a host of awards including multiple Freshman All-American and Freshman Player of the Year honors.
Unfortunately, the immense potential she flashed her freshman season was hampered by injuries. Rapinoe was among the national leaders with 10 goals in 11 matches her sophomore season before a knee injury ended her year. She appeared in two matches off the bench the next season before another knee injury took her out again.
Eventually she found health again, and continued to show her immense talent coming back to be named WCC Player of the Year in her fourth season. Despite having a year of eligibility left thanks to a medical hardship waiver, she opted to enter Women’s Professional Soccer Draft.
Like many professional women’s players, she has bounced from various clubs as leagues and teams have come and go. She has found a home recently with the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League, a league that the vast majority of the USA roster currently calls their professional home between international matches.
With the exception of missing a match due to a 2nd yellow card, Rapinoe has been a key cog for the USA this tournament. She has started every other game, and has 2 goals and 1 assist. She will go down as one of the best national players to come out of the WCC with over 100 caps and 31 goals. Despite being a longtime veteran of the USA roster, she is only 29 years old and should have some good years left. Maybe even one more World Cup.
Julie Johnston, Santa Clara: Johnston is on the other end of the spectrum from Rapinoe. While Rapinoe is a longtime veteran of the USA National Team and her college career is a distant memory, Johnston is barely removed from her WCC career with the Broncos. Johnston was dominant in college from the start, earning WCC Freshman of the Year honors like Rapinoe.
She would go on to have a decorated career that, like Rapinoe, included both collegiate and USA National team success. In 2012, she captained the U-20 team to the Women’s World Cup, winning the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship along the way.
Johnston has had a fast rise, and currently plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL after being taken by them in the first round out of Santa Clara. And she has made an immediate impact on the international scene, having played in all six games in this World Cup. Despite no longer being the focal point of the offense, her play as been invaluable. She is one of 8 finalists for the Golden Ball, awarded to the MVP of the tournament.
These two ladies are doing their schools and the WCC proud. Be sure to watch for them on Sunday, as they represent what the WCC has to offer in one of its strongest sports.