METUCHEN, NJ – The start of training camps in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) combined with post-collegiate players signing professionally with overseas teams has the transaction wire alight with hope and progress. As United Women’s Soccer (UWS) alumnae spread their wings and fly off to new pastures in the pro ranks, we’ve caught up with eight of them to find out how their experience in the national pro-am league helped their development. Read on below as we catch up with:
2016 UWS West Player of the Year Chloe Castañeda (Santa Clarita Blue Heat / Houston Dash)… 2019 UWS Midwest Player of the Year Samantha Dewey (Indiana Union / Real Betis Féminas)… 2018 UWS Defensive Player of the Year Natalie Jacobs (LA Galaxy OC / Washington Spirit)… 2019 All-UWS selection Ellie Jean (FC Nordsjælland / NE Mutiny)… 2019 UWS champion Abi Kim (LA Galaxy OC / Orlando Pride)… 2019 UWS champion Taylor Kornieck (LA Galaxy OC / Orlando Pride)… Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year Kaiya McCullough (Santa Clarita Blue Heat / Washington Spirit)… and U.S. U-20 international Zoe Morse (Lansing United / Chicago Red Stars).
“I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity over the past four years to compete for as high level a team as the Santa Clarita Blue Heat. I have learned a lot through my semi-professional experiences and I cant wait to achieve my dream of playing professionally this season.” – Chloe Castañeda.
“Playing in UWS this past summer was an awesome experience for me. The competitiveness of UWS helped prepare me for my final college season where we were able to win the Big East Championship [with Xavier University]. Let’s Go X!! It also provided a place where I could play against great players from all over the country. This helped me build relationships and lasting impressions with those I played with and against. The league itself was certainly organized in terms of marketing and promoting the players. The coverage allowed my family and friends to keep up with what I love doing, playing soccer!” – Samantha Dewey.
“I loved playing for LAGOC in UWS. I met amazing soccer players as well as reconnected with girls that I played with a long time ago. Scott Juniper is a great coach who built a very talented team with top notch people. Winning the national championship last year was incredible and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of that special group of women. UWS definitely prepared me for my college season and has helped me grow as a player so that I can begin this next step in the NWSL. I can’t wait to see the league continue to grow and succeed in the future.” – Natalie Jacobs.
“I had such a great time playing with the New England Mutiny in UWS. Great competition and great people. I made a ton of new friends that I still stay in touch with overseas and I just really enjoyed getting to represent my area with another team. Joe [Ferrara, Jr.] – the GM of the Mutiny – cares so much for his players and cares so much about women’s soccer. I was grateful to be at a club that is trying to grow the game and is playing a really pretty & effective style of soccer. The Mutiny has a great atmosphere to play at and we really pride ourselves on being gritty and winning no matter what it takes. We were so close last year to winning our region… hopefully the Mutiny can continue to be successful in the upcoming seasons. It is a great club and UWS is a great organization to have been able to represent.” – Ellie Jean.
“LAGOC is a very professional program that provided incredible coaching and fantastic venues to play in. The organization does an awesome job marketing to get the fans out there to promote this sport I love so much. Playing in UWS was a great experience for me because it gave me another opportunity to play with quality players that have high expectations to play at the highest level and who really love the game. My favorite memory playing in this league was winning the national championship. It was so awesome and I got to meet new and incredible players!” – Taylor Kornieck.
“LAGOC was an incredible program. I had an amazing summer playing with very talented players. The staff was very professional and the team was super welcoming. UWS and LAGOC created an environment that allowed me to push myself physically and mentally which in turn, helped me prepare for my final college season.” – Abi Kim.
“I loved the environment that the Blue Heat presented me with. It gave me the opportunity to be in a new environment and experience the joys and challenges of adapting to new circumstances.” – Kaiya McCullough.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity I had last summer to compete in UWS and improve my game with Lansing United, all while representing my hometown! The team provided me with an environment to continue my personal growth over the summer, as well as prepared me for the college season and for what is to come.” – Zoe Morse.