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Pugh departs UCLA for pro opportunity

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Mal Pugh has made the decision to pursue professional soccer opportunities instead of playing for the UCLA Bruins in the fall. Pugh, who enrolled at UCLA in the Winter quarter, had three spring appearances.

She was expected to be apart of the team in the fall. However, that will not happen now, as the U.S. Women’s National Team starter has decided to go pro — and forgoing any NCAA eligibility that she had.

Mal Pugh (Photo by Percy Anderson)

Mal Pugh (Photo by Percy Anderson)

“This decision was certainly not easy for me to make,” she said. “UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would’ve been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, UCLA Athletics, and everyone else for the support I have behind me. I may have been here for a short-time, but UCLA will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be a Bruin.”

Pugh made her U.S. Women’s National Team debut in January 2016. Since that time, she has had 22 caps with five goals and three assists. She was 17-years-old, 269 days when she debuted.

When she made her debut, she scored a goal, becoming the 19th U.S. female player and the sixth-youngest to score in her international debut. Pugh was also a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

“We are sad to see Mal depart UCLA, but it’s exciting for her to have such a unique opportunity,” UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell said. “Our relationship with Mal started a long-time ago in the recruiting process. We’ve see her develop and grow into an amazing young woman and player. Mal will always be a Bruin, and we have no doubt that she is destined for great things as her career progresses.”

She was the 2015 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. She also won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championships.

Without Pugh, the Bruins will now return a strong group of players, including Olympic bronze medalist Jessie Fleming, who was a 2016 All-American. They also return All-Pac-12 players Anika Rodriguez and Hailie Mace.

“Our team next year will be very talented,” Cromwell said. “The future is very bright, and we are excited about adding the 2017 class to the program.”

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