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Interview: Morgan Weaver

JOSE L. ARGUETA/ISI PHOTOS

Washington State’s all-time leading scorer, Morgan Weaver was selected by the Portland Thorns as the second pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft. Weaver led the Cougars to their first ever College Cup in 2019 and was soon after invited to the USWNT’s senior team training camp in December.

CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING TAKEN NO. 2 IN THE NWSL DRAFT. IT’S BEEN AMAZING TO WATCH YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS PAST SEASON AND TO SEE HOW FAR WASHINGTON STATE HAS COME SINCE YOU ARRIVED. GOING BACK IN TIME, HOW DID YOU END UP AT WASHINGTON STATE? 

My mom made me come on a visit. 100% honesty — I did not want to go to Washington State. I wanted to be a Husky. I grew up about 45 minutes from UW, and I wanted to go there my whole entire life. I was all, go Huskies, go Dawgs. And my club coach said, hey, you should go check out Washington State, they would really love to see you. And I said, yeah, whatever. So they ended up calling my mom to say they wanted to have me on a visit. I said I wouldn’t go, but she said I had to just see what it was like. And then of course I got here and just fell in love with the school. It only took one visit. On the way home I called my dad and said, “I’m going to Washington State. I’m going to be a Coug.” And he goes, “What?!”

THE PROGRAM MADE SO MANY STRIDES DURING YOUR FOUR YEARS. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE CULTURE THAT ALLOWED IT TO MAKE THE LEAP? 

I can remember being that freshman on the first road trip who was asking everyone if they needed water, asking the catches after practice if they needed me to pick up the balls. I was absolutely that nervous new player who just wanted to help. And that was true for all the girls in our class, which really showed the upperclassmen that we were committed. And our coaches got on us, they told us we should be competing at the top of the Pac 12. And after we didn’t make the tournament my freshman season, everyone in my class just said we weren’t going to let that happen again. We had practices in the snow while the tournament was going on, and we just kept telling ourselves that we deserved to be playing in it. There was a huge mentality shift. We wanted to be at the top of the conference, and we wanted to show everyone what Washington State was about every time we took the field. And this year, we really did that.

YOU GUYS WENT ON TO BE THE CINDERELLA TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT. DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE CAPABLE OF THAT KIND OF RUN TOWARD THE END OF THE SEASON? 

We knew going into two of our last games against Utah and Colorado that we had to win them both to make the tournament, which we did. But then we lost to Washington, and everyone was just like, “What just happened?” You can’t lose to your rivals. And credit to UW for beating us, but all of us were disappointed. We were furious, and we hated that feeling. I think that took everyone to another level. Once we got back to Pullman, the mentality was just that we weren’t going to lose again. You could feel the intensity at practice.

YOU GUYS KNOCKED OFF TWO TOP-5 TEAMS DURING YOUR RUN. WHAT WAS YOUR MENTALITY LIKE FOR THOSE GAMES? 

Before the Virginia game, there was definitely some nerves. We knew how good they were. But a few of us just grabbed everyone before the game, and we said, look, we’re Washington State. People are scared to play us because we’re physical, we’re athletic, and we don’t stop. And before the game, in the locker room, on the bus, we were all singing. High School Musical, Hannah Montana. Everyone was having fun. That’s when we knew we were going to win the game. When we have that crazy energy, we don’t think there’s anyone that’s going to stop us.

There were also so many families that traveled to every game supporting us. And there were a lot of older players, even from other programs, who kept sending us messages. Abby Wambach even sent a video, which was amazing. But really, we just loved getting to show people that, you know, we’re a small little school in Pullman. We don’t have the No. 1 recruits. But we’re fighters, and we give everything we can. Since I arrived here as a freshman, we’ve been proving to people that we can compete with the best. Honestly, I don’t even think it was a Cinderella story. We were just showing people what we could do. They might have been shocked, but we always felt like we deserved to be there.

EVEN AS YOU KNOCKED OFF TEAMS, THERE WEREN’T A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA WHO BELIEVED IN YOU. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO STAY CONFIDENT? 

I think the other captains and I always did a good job of bringing everyone in and saying, this is just another game. It shouldn’t matter who were playing. We’re going out there to win and to be the best we can. It comes from the coaches, too. They always believed. And I think they did an amazing job proving to us that we’re entitled to have that mentality where it doesn’t matter who we are playing. I mean, we could be playing Chelsea, and we’d still say, it’s just Chelsea, we got this. That’s just who we are. It sounds crazy, but that’s our team. And we loved having the opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong.

BY THE END, YOU ALL HAD A LOT OF NEW FANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHO WERE ROOTING FOR YOU AT THE COLLEGE CUP. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? 

It was awesome. There were so many girls who messaged me throughout the tournament and this year saying how much they loved watching our team, saying how much we inspired them. I kept reminding everyone on the team that this is what we were playing for. And there were so many girls who said they want to come to Washington State, who said they wanted to be Cougs because of what we had done. That doesn’t happen all the time, and we knew it was special.

FAST-FORWARDING TO THE DRAFT, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE WHEN YOU HEARD THEM CALL YOUR NAME AT NO. 2? 

I thought, dang. I was so excited. And kind of shocked. I mean, I never fully believed I’d be a No. 2 pick in the draft. That’s a pretty high number. I’ve always just gone out there and worked as hard as I could, and now I can’t wait to be in Portland. The team is amazing. Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, and so many more. And Portland is only two and a half hours from my house. I’m so close to home. My hard work is finally paying off, but it’s not done.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL GOALS FOR THIS YEAR?

I think for me it’s just showing everyone that I can compete, that I’m not just content to be there. I want to prove myself to everyone. I want them to really be excited about having me as a teammate.

BOTH YOU AND SOPHIA SMITH WILL BE HEADING TO PORTLAND. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PARTNERING UP? 

I’m really excited to get to know her more. We played together at this last national camp in December. She seems really nice, really fun. And I’ve heard great things about her. I had some friends at Washington State who played club with her and who all talked very highly about her.

ANY SHOUT OUT TO THE PORTLAND FAITHFUL? 

Oh yes — I’m so excited to be playing in Portland. I already met some fans at the draft. They gave me a scarf and were incredibly nice. So many people have also reached out over social media to say how excited they are to have me in Portland. It’s amazing, and I’m so excited to get to know them.

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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