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Four players to watch in the NCAA College Cup

Brianna Pinto
Brianna Pinto (@iccwomen)

With the NCAA College Cup Semifinals only two days away, we’ve got you covered on four players to watch — one from each team — as the competition unfolds on May 13th.

Brianna Pinto, University of North Carolina

The third overall pick in the 2021 NWSL draft, Brianna Pinto has been nothing short of exceptional in her time with the Tar Heels. In 65 games played from 2018-2020 (64 of which she was a member of the starting line-up), Pinto combined for 3,705 minutes of playing time and notched 23 goals, 16 assists, and 59 shots on goal. 

Head coach Anson Dorrance has been extremely complimentary of Pinto’s game, saying “She has a fabulous skill set.  She’s great in possession.  She’s a complete player with the ability to attack.” That’s high praise from someone who has coached greats like Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, and Kristine Lilly.

Pinto will join NJ/NY Gotham FC at the conclusion of her collegiate career, and what better way to go out with a bang than to secure a spot in the championship match?

Jaelin Howell, Florida State

Only 21 years old, Howell has already made two appearances for the US women’s national team, earning her first cap in the 89th minute of a friendly against the Netherlands back in November. 

In three seasons with the Seminoles, the midfielder has appeared in 62 games, scored 11 goals and made 10 assists, earning 5,342 minutes of playing time and tallying 32 points.

In a preseason Top Drawer Soccer ranking of the women’s top 100 players to watch, Howell was slotted at number one. She is also on the watchlist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious award in college soccer. 

Last year, Howell led the Seminoles to an ACC title and was named the ACC Midfielder of the Year. 

Kelsey Turnbow, Santa Clara

Also selected in the 2021 NWSL Draft, Turnbow has appeared in 77 matches for Santa Clara, in which she has logged a stellar 43 goals and 26 assists. 

In the 2020-2021 season alone, Turnbow scored 8 goals in only 10 games played (!) to earn 20 points. Three of those goals? Game-winners, no less. 

The forward has also received call-ups to the U14, U15, U17, U18, U19, and U20 US Women’s National Teams during her playing career, and will join the Chicago Red Stars at the professional level at the conclusion of the season. 

Rebecca Jarrett, University of Virginia

A staple piece in UVA’s attacking third, Rebecca Jarrett was named an All-ACC second team selection and was the only player on the roster to start all 12 games during the Fall 2020 season. 

Throughout three seasons with the Cavaliers, Jarrett has played in 63 matches, scored 15 goals, added 13 assists and 103 total shots. 

Virginia head coach Steve Swanson has called Jarrett “one of their constants,” speaking highly of her continual improvement with every game.

Virginia, who punched their ticket to the semifinals with a 1-0 upset over Texas Christian University, are certainly the underdog of this year’s semifinals, as they are the only unranked team that remains in the running. Jarrett will be key if they want to continue their Cinderella run.

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

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