The U.S. women’s national team is preparing to welcome its next head coach. And as the new chapter begins, college soccer stars could get their chances on the USWNT roster.

With the NCAA tournament kicking off Friday, Just Women’s Sports highlights four players who deserve a look from incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes.

The recent debuts of Mia Fishel, 22, and Jaedyn Shaw, 18, underscored the shift in the national team, as a youth movement is beginning to take over in the presence of veterans. Already, Fishel and Shaw have provided a sneak peek at what the future could look like, with each scoring a goal in the last match against Colombia.

Our previous edition of this list picked out NWSL players who should get USWNT consideration. This time around, we turn to the college ranks to spotlight prospects who could receive call-ups in 2024.

Trinity Byars, 20, Texas

A standout for Texas, which claimed a No. 5 seed in the 64-team bracket, Byars has the abilities to be a top pick in the 2024 NWSL draft. Through three seasons with the Longhorns, she has had 46 goals and 32 assists in 64 games. She also was an all-state sprinter in high school, making her an explosive forward with the power to outrun opposing defenses – a skill which has helped other USWNT forwards, including Mallory Swanson.

While the USWNT certainly has options at forward, Byars could warrant a look as the team retires star players such as Megan Rapinoe. She also has extensive youth experience, including being nominated for U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Player of the Year award in 2019.

Lexi Missimo competes for the U-23 national team in March 2023. (Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports)

Lexi Missimo, 20, Texas

Missimo is another star out of of Texas that has spent time in the USWNT’s youth system. The midfielder has been linked to both Manchester City and Arsenal, and she has at times been compared to the likes of Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis.

Considering what those three have accomplished, Missimo could be the next big thing for the USWNT midfield.

Ayo Oke competes for the U-23 national team in March 2023. (Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY Sports)

Ayo Oke, 20, UCLA

Oke transferred to UCLA from Cal ahead of the 2023 season, and she and the Bruins enter the NCAA tournament with a No. 1 seed. In the 2022 season, she posted nine assists as a right back.

The 20-year-old defender also has youth national team experience, playing as a starter on the U-23 national team in March 2023. She also played at the U-20 Women’s World Cup and helped the U.S. to the U-20 Concacaf Championship in 2022.

She’s been a part of U.S. Soccer’s youth system since the U-15 age group, and as the USWNT looks to replace aging defenders (and Emily Sonnett seemingly transitions to the midfield), Oke deserves a look.

Reilyn Turner competes for the U-23 national team in March 2023. (Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports)

Reilyn Turner, 21, UCLA

Reilyn Turner, who became the first college athlete to sign an NIL deal with Nike, has been a star for UCLA in three seasons. In 2022, she was named the Most Outstanding Player at the College Cup, helping UCLA to the national championship. And in 2023, she is putting together her best year to date, with 10 goals and six assists through 18 games played.

While Turner would have to compete against a stacked forward group on the USWNT, she has the ability to show up in big moments. A fixture on U.S. youth national teams, she should see a senior USWNT call-up soon.

UCLA women’s soccer was down but never out.

Trailing by two goals late in Monday’s national championship game against North Carolina, the Bruins managed the near-impossible: a last-minute equalizer, and then a game-winner in overtime to take the 3-2 win and the title.

“What was great is without any tactical adjustments, the team’s mentality shifted. So you could see, as soon as that second goal happened, we were on the front foot,” UCLA head coach Margueritte Aozasa said after the game.

She became the first rookie coach to win an NCAA women’s soccer title. Even after the Tar Heels took the lead with goals in the 59th and 75th minutes, Aozasa and UCLA did not give up.

“We were actually going to change systems earlier,” she said. “But there was like a solid five minutes after the second goal where we actually had a ton of momentum, and we were like, ‘OK, let’s ride this out a little bit.’”

The Bruins notched their first goal in the 80th minute as Lexi Wright put away a second-chance opportunity. Sunshine Fontes was credited for an assist after her laser of a shot was blocked by goalkeeper Emmie Allen and ricocheted to Wright.

UCLA scored again 10 minutes later, as Reilyn Turner tied the game on a header off a corner kick with just 16 seconds left on the clock.

One overtime period passed without either team getting back on the scoreboard, but UCLA took the lead for the first time with a little over three minutes left in the second overtime period.

Maricarmen Reyes scored on a rebound, beating Allen on the second shot.

“I’m just amazed by this team and the grit that they show and the character they showed today,” Aozasa said. “I even had my doubts at 2-0, but quite honestly no one on the field did and they just found a way.”

The game marked the first time a team came back from down two goals to win the national championship. It was also just the second time UCLA had trailed by two goals all season.

Still, for Turner, the win was an embodiment of the team’s mentality all season.

“It’s just that heart and that grit just to work for every single second of the game until that whistle is blown,” Turner said. “With this team, you can never, ever, ever give up, because we will always come back. And we will have each other’s back and work to the last second of the game.”

But as UCLA celebrates their win, fans of the game have reason to celebrate too. The effects of an instant classic like this one could reverberate around the sport for years to come.

“This is one of the greatest finals I’ve personally ever been involved in,” Tar Heels coach Anson Dorrance said.

Notably, Dorrance has led UNC since 1979 and has coached the program to all 21 of its NCAA championships.

“Up and back, lots of goals, overtime, the drama of sport — one team goes up, the other one claws their way back,” Dorrance said. “I think everyone that participated in it, from the players on both rosters ought to be credited, because this was a wonderful sales piece for the women’s collegiate soccer game.”

UCLA is into its sixth College Cup championship following a dominant 3-0 win over Alabama.

Reilyn Turner, who became the first student-athlete to sign with Nike in an NIL deal, scored first for the Bruins in the 30th minute. It would be the only goal of the half and her 10th of the year.

The goal ended a seven-match goal scoring drought, as Turner hadn’t scored since October.

Quincy McMahon assisted on that goal before adding one of her own in the 52nd minute. Madelyn Desiano found the back of the net a little over a minute later to make it 3-0 for the Bruins.

For head coach Margueritte Aozasa, she now has the opportunity to become the only first-year head coach to win a title in their first year in NCAA women’s soccer history.

In total, UCLA fired off 20 shots to Alabama’s 11, with 11 of those shots coming on goal. For Bruins goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, the clean sheet was her ninth of 2022, tying her career high.

UCLA will play North Carolina in the NCAA championship, a team they’ve already beaten this season.

Nike has signed UCLA sophomore soccer forward Reilyn Turner in the company’s first college student-athlete sponsorship deal.

The partnership is Nike’s first in the NCAA’s NIL era — where college athletes are allowed to profit off of their name, image and likeness — and signals the company’s commitment to supporting women athletes. A key element of Nike’s deals with student-athletes will be giving back to local communities. Turner will work with Nike’s Los Angeles-based community partners as part of her partnership.

“Whether it’s the community you grow up with or the community you grow into, there’s so much positive impact that can come from how they influence you and how you influence them,” Turner said in a release.

Through the partnership, Nike and Turner hope to provide local kids with the same opportunities that Turner had while playing youth soccer and which helped her land at UCLA. The Aliso Viejo, Calif. native was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2020 after leading the conference in goals. She finished the 2021 season second on the team with 10 goals and 21 points.

“As a Black woman and Mexican American, I think about those who have paved the way for me and how they used their platforms to create so much change, even beyond sport,” Turner said. “I hope to be a role model for those around me and those after me, and I’m so excited to be a part of what Nike is bringing to the future of women’s sport.”

Turner isn’t the first student-athlete to be sign a groundbreaking NIL deal with a major sports brand. In November, UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers became the first college athlete to sign with Gatorade.