While Duke’s season heats up with ACC competition on the horizon, several former Blue Devils are having impressive campaigns in the NWSL. The Blue Zone breaks down the performances of those making an impact in 2023:
Michelle Cooper, Kansas City Current
After a stellar collegiate career, the reigning MAC Hermann Trophy winner continues to make waves at the professional level. With 14 starts in 18 contests, Cooper has played nearly every minute in the Current’s last seven games. The former Duke striker has added three goals in the regular season along the way, with an additional goal and assist in the NWSL Challenge Cup. The Clarkston, Mich., native’s increasing role and solid performances, however, have been overshadowed by Kansas City’s overall woes. The Current are in last place in the league with 11 losses and six wins. While it is probably too late to salvage the 2023 campaign, Cooper will become crucial in rebuilding this Kansas City team as she grows into the NWSL.
Tess Boade, North Carolina Courage
After returning from injury at the start of June, the former Blue Devil midfielder has been working her way back to the top. Earning seven starts in eight games played, Boade has both an 100% success rate for tackles and passes, an incredible feat for any professional player. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native also scored her first goal of the year in an Aug. 27 matchup against the Chicago Red Stars, resulting in a 1-1 tie. On the Challenge Cup side, the midfielder has seen even more action, with her team recently lifting the tournament trophy after a 2-0 defeat of Racing Louisville FC. While she is still recovering from injury, Boade will likely play an increasing role for the Courage in the looming postseason, with the North Carolina squad currently sitting in third place.
Mia Gyau, San Diego Wave FC
While she has yet to get any real time in the regular season, Gyau has gotten some quality minutes in the Challenge Cup. Earning two starts, the Colesville, Md., native has made the best of her defensive talent with a 66.7% tackle success rate and two blocks. Her real moment of glory in 2023 came against Angel City FC June 28, when a goal-line clearance in the 36th minute kept the Wave from going down 3-0 in the first half. The former Blue Devil has yet to make a real impact for San Diego, whose defense is headlined by the likes of U.S. national team center back Naomi Girma. However, Gyau could play an increasing role as she gains experience at the professional level.
Ella Stevens, Chicago Red Stars
Playing in 18 games with 13 starts, Stevens’s attacking prowess has gotten her quality minutes for the Red Stars in 2023. Making the most of her time on the pitch, the Grayson, Ga., native has four goals on the year, most notably in a 1-0 win against the Wave July 1. She too has been a key instrument in the Challenge Cup for her squad, with three starts in four games played. Like Cooper and the Current, however, Chicago has struggled to put together a quality season. Sitting at 11th in the league standings, the Red Stars have not lived up to expectations after a sixth-place finish a year ago. The team will need the likes of Stevens, who has seen greater playing time and quality production in the last two years, to return to professional power within the NWSL.
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Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.