While Duke is in the offseason, several former Blue Devils have been competing in the NWSL. The Blue Zone takes a look at some alumni who have made a big impact at the professional level:
Michelle Cooper, Kansas City Current
The reigning MAC Hermann trophy winner has continued to make waves for the Kansas City Current, earning seven starts in eight games played in regular-season competition. With an 80% tackle success rate and 63.8% passing accuracy, Cooper’s aggressive play and skill on the ball has been her greatest asset at the highest level. The Clarkston, Mich., native also recently scored her first goal of her professional career in the Current’s 3-2 loss to Racing Louisville FC in the 2023 Challenge Cup. If the forward continues to put her attacking prowess on display, Cooper could very well become a key piece of Kansas City’s offense in the years to come. However, with the return of veteran attacker Kristen Hamilton from injury, she might see a reduction in playing time.
Ella Stevens, Chicago Red Stars
The Blue Devil great has been a mainstay for the Red Stars this season, as she too has earned seven starts in eight games played. Despite Chicago’s inauspicious beginning to its 2023 campaign, Stevens has demonstrated a high soccer IQ with her nose for the goal. She recently scored a goal for the Red Stars in their 2-1 loss against Gotham FC May 7, bringing her season tally to two goals and one assist. Beyond her scoring ability, the Grayson, Ga., native has been a major contributor on both sides of the ball, garnering a 100% tackle success rate with a 74.4% passing accuracy to boot. As Chicago looks to improve its 1-6-1 record in the regular season, Stevens may be relied upon to drive the Red Stars’ attacking unit.
Lily Nabet, Angel City FC
The former Duke captain has yet to get quality playing time in the regular season, playing just 48 minutes over four games. However, the midfielder has seen some action in the NWSL 2023 Challenge Cup. Playing two games and starting one, Nabet helped Angel City FC to a loss and a tie. While the Los Angeles, Calif., native is still waiting for her time in the sun at the professional level, her Blue Devil career gives a glimpse of her potential. With 55 starts to her name, Nabet scored two goals and six assists over the course of her time in a Duke uniform. As her team looks to advance up the rankings, the midfielder will look to prove herself as an attacking threat, particularly in Challenge Cup play.
Mackenzie Pluck, Angel City FC
After going undrafted, the Duke midfielder was signed by Angel City FC before the start of the 2023 season. While she is yet to see any major action on the pitch, Pluck’s collegiate career speaks volumes about her pro potential. As a graduate student in 2022, the North Wales, Pa., native started 21 of 23 games, notching three goals and eight assists as her team went to the Elite Eight. Known for her aggressive play and speed on the flanks, Pluck could become an attacking asset with her selfless assists and accurate crossing capabilities. As a rookie, she still has room to grow and develop into a major presence for Angel City in the coming seasons.
Quinn, OL Reign
While they have only appeared in three games and started one this season, Quinn has shown glimpses of greatness. With a 79.7% passing accuracy and 60% success rate in long passes, the midfielder is showing why they are a reigning Olympic gold medalist with a storied professional career. Even though they are seeing limited playing time this season, the Toronto native’s time as a Blue Devil and subsequent experience at the highest level speaks to their potential. A First Team All-American in 2017, Quinn was the first player in school history to be named ACC Midfielder of the Year while receiving a nod as a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist. After being selected third overall in the 2018 NWSL Draft, they obtained professional success for both club and country. Quinn may not be seeing the same level of playing time and subsequent acclaim this season for the OL Reign, but they have proven themselves to be a crafty presence in the midfield, which could be useful as the club tries to advance further up the rankings from their current fifth-place spot.
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Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity first-year and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.