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NWSL: Mallory Pugh leaving UCLA to go pro

After just one week of NWSL action, Mallory Pugh might have just shaken things up.

The University of California Los Angeles freshman announced that she would not be returning to the program. Instead, Pugh has elected to pursue a professional career early.

“This decision was certainly not easy for me to make,” Pugh said. “UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would’ve been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, UCLA Athletics, and everyone else for the support I have behind me. I may have been here for a short time, but UCLA will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be a Bruin.”

Pugh was heavily influenced to join the professional league immediately out of high school. A former member of youth club Real Colorado, Pugh was highly scouted. She also made her United States Women’s National Team debut at only 17. Since then, Pugh has made 22 appearances with the USWNT, and has scored five goals. In addition, she has added five assists to her resume. She was a member of the USWNT’s roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, Pugh was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Player of the Year.

In addition, Pugh received the U-20 CONCACAF Women’s Championship Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards in 2015.

“We are sad to see Mal depart UCLA, but it’s exciting for her to have such a unique opportunity,” said UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell. “Our relationship with Mal started a long time ago in the recruiting process. We’ve seen her develop and grow into an amazing young woman and player. Mal will always be a Bruin, and we have no doubt that she is destined for great things as her career progresses.”

“Our team next year will be very talented,” said Cromwell. “The future is very bright, and we are excited about adding the 2017 class to the program.”

It is presumed that Pugh will enter the NWSL, but has yet to announce her commitment to any club.


Photo of Mallory Pugh courtesy of Gustavo Andrade/Associated Press.

Follow me on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, for all NWSL coverage.

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Rachael McKriger
Sports Journalist
Rachael McKriger writes for Pittsburgh Sporting News, RSEN Report (Lead Editor), Pittsburgh Sports Castle and Politically Incorrect Sports Talk, in addition to being a copy editor at the Herald Standard newspaper. McKriger also has a freelance photography business called "McKriger Photography."
You can follow her on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, where you can find all of her articles. Search "McKriger Photography" on Facebook.
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