Four Ex-Cal Players on NWSL Rosters for Soccer Event Starting Saturday

Former Cal star Alex Morgan plays in the NWSL but won't be participating in the Challenge CupPhoto by Michael Chow - USA TODAY Sports

Jake Curtis

Four former Cal soccer players are at the forefront of a return of team sports in the United States. You have heard about plans by the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball to restart their seasons, but the first team sport to begin play in this country since the COVID-19 pandemic halted action will be the National Women's Soccer League.

Play in the NWSL Challenge Cup event begins today (Saturday, June 27) with a game between North Carolina and Portland that will be televised by CBS, starting at 9:30 a.m. Pacific time. And one of the players on the Portland Thorns' roster is midfielder Celeste Boureille, a Cal alum.

All the games in the Challenge Cup will be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.  The championship game will be played on Sunday, July 26.

Before Saturday's game, all the players from both teams took a knee during the national anthem in observance of racial injustice. They also wore t-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter.” 

Boureille made seven starts last season for Portland llast year and has made 45 NWSL stars in her career, making her the former Cal players with the most NWSL experience.

The most famous ex-Cal player in the league is Alex Morgan, a member of the Orlando Pride, although she will not be playing in the NWSL Challenge Cup after giving birth to her first child in the spring.

The other three former Golden Bears on NWSL rosters are Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd, Sky Blue attacker Ifeoma Onumonu and Utah Royals striker Arielle Ship.

Boyd played for Cal from 2014 to 2017 and was Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year in 2017. She was also a second-team All-America selection. She started 10 games for th Red Stars last year.

Onumonu played for Cal from 2012 to 2016 and was an all-Pac-12 selection several times. She started eight NWSL games a season ago.

Ship played for Cal from 2013 to 2016 and was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and an All-America pick in 2015. She started four games a year ago.

Click here for the full schedule and team rosters.

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