College Soccer for Female Athletes: A Blessing and a Curse

Debut post from Andie Deutschle.

If you consider yourself a Women’s Soccer fan, you’re probably familiar with the big names of Christen Press, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, and Mallory Pugh. While all four of these women are outstanding players, gaining a chance to represent their country on the USWNT, they all earned their spot on the national team through different routes. Some played for college, others bypassed it, and some players forged to go overseas to get experience- but they all ended up in the same place. So what’s the deal with college soccer? Is it helping or hurting female athletes? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as easy as a “yes” or a “no”.

Christen Press- played her college soccer at Stanford University, then went into her professional career where she played for a number of clubs. She eventually went overseas to play in Sweden- Kopparbergs and Tyreso FC. She currently plays for Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL, where she’s the second highest scorer in the league with 25 goals in only 39 caps. On the country side of her career, she’s also a forward for the National Team with 87 caps and 42 goals.

Lindsey Horan- skipped college soccer, opted instead to start her professional career in France playing for Paris Saint Germain with a stunning 46 goals in 58 games. She now plays for the Portland Thorns in the NWSL, with 23 appearances and 8 goals. She’s a midfielder for the National Team, with 35 caps and 3 goals since 2013.

Rose Lavelle- played college soccer at University of Wisconsin, was the first draft pick for the NWSL season of 2017. Currently plays for Boston Breakers with 6 appearances and 2 goals. She also plays midfield for the USWNT with 6 caps and 2 goals.

Mallory Pugh signed a letter of intent to play college soccer at University of California, Los Angeles, then moved straight into the NWSL and plays for Washington Spirit with 3 caps and 1 goal. At 17, she became the youngest American female soccer player to score in World Cup Qualifying. Now, at 19 years old, she’s already a forward for the USWNT with 23 appearances and 2 goals.

While all four of these women play for club and country, they chose different paths and ended up at the same destination. So does college soccer really play a big part in their lives? Sure, players can gain experience through it, but are they losing more time in their professional career? Christen Press at 28 still has some decent years ahead of her. However, someone like Mallory Pugh who’s only 19, has her entire career to play. So while college might give players experience, at the same time can it hold back their professional career? If Christen Press would have bypassed Stanford, who knows how many goals she would have under her belt? But, at the same time, if Press bypassed Stanford, would she have lacked the experience to make the National Team? There’s no way of knowing exactly what the outcome would be if players skipped college- we can only see who they are now with or without it.

Let’s just look at Mallory Pugh for a few minutes. She basically had no college experience, and instead jumped straight into the NWSL. Pro’s? She’s getting more professional playing time, she’s the superstar for Washington Spirit, she’s getting a handy paycheck, and her experience at Washington transfers over to the USWNT. Con? She completely skipped the part of her life where she’s supposed to be a rambunctious college student. She’s the superstar for U.S. soccer right now, but how much of her life did she skip out on to earn that title? More importantly, was it worth it? I’m sure if you ask her, she’ll nod her head yes repeatedly to ensure not only you, but herself as well. You can cast your own judgment on this one.

Now, I’m not taking a stand on either side of this issue. I think there are pro’s and con’s to playing in college soccer- it all just depends on your situation. So, if you’re a young female athlete reading this: I am not telling you to skip college and try to go pro- you’re parents would track me down and have a few choice words with me. Nevertheless, I think college programs can offer the chance to build experience for not only the game, but balancing the game with the off field life. But, can it really take away from a player’s professional career? In the end, everyone has their own path they have to choose to get them where they want to go. Some players need college soccer, while others have a different track laid out for them.

Andie Deutschle.

Image result for rose lavelle wisconsin
Rose Lavelle starred on the field for The University of Wisconsin

Andie is the Newest Member of the ICS team. She is a Sophomore at the University of Cincinnati and has a passion for soccer. Andie is double majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience but is also exploring opportunities in Sports Journalism.

Click here to find out more about joining us as a writer, or tell us about what’s going on inside your college soccer program.

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