After three of the four National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup quarterfinal matchups resulted in upsets, the NWSL’s return-to-play tournament moves to the semifinals. The two semifinal matchups take place Wednesday, with six former University of Virginia athletes in action.
The first semifinal, which begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, pits the Houston Dash against Portland Thorns FC. The second semifinal, which starts at 10 p.m. ET, features a showdown between the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC.
Three of the four teams in the semifinals include former UVa women’s soccer players.
Let’s break down the former Wahoos still competing in the NWSL Challenge Cup.
Chicago Red Stars
Morgan Gautrat: Morgan Brian, who has gone by Morgan Gautrat since her marriage in 2017, is on the team as a midfielder. She’s logged significant minutes, playing 222 minutes across three matches. She even scored a goal in the team’s first match of the tournament, a 2-1 loss to the Washington Spirit. Gautrat didn’t play in the team’s quarterfinal victory, and she’ll miss the semifinal match with a right leg injury.
Zoe Morse: A rookie in the league, Morse made her professional debut during the tournament. She played a full 90 minutes in the tournament opener, a 2-1 loss to Washington.
“First off, just super grateful to get the start,” Morse said in a media session in early July. “To be on the field with all those incredible players was just a great feeling, and it also showed me where I need to be at.”
Morse hasn’t played since the tournament opener, but she adds depth as a defender if Chicago decides to call her number.
Danielle Colaprico: Chicago uses Colaprico, a midfielder, quite a bit. She’s played a full 90 minutes in each of the team’s previous two matches. She’s logged four starts and 293 minutes in the tournament.
“I feel like we’re super excited for the game tomorrow,” Colaprico told reporters Tuesday. “I feel like we’ve worked so hard this preseason and we’ve been waiting for this game, especially with how our last season went with losing in the final. I think this is what we’re looking forward to.”
The Red Stars lost in the championship match to end a productive 2019 NWSL season. The group wants to hoist the Challenge Cup in 2020.
Look for Colaprico to remain an important part of Chicago’s plan throughout the duration of the tournament, although she is battling a right ankle injury.
“I’m in a little bit of pain, but not too much pain, and I’m just excited to get to the semifinals tomorrow,” Colaprico said Tuesday.
Makenzy Doniak: The attacker has played in all five matches throughout the tournament, although her playing time varies. She played 12 minutes in the last match, but did play for 70 minutes in the team’s second contest of the NWSL Challenge Cup. In total, Doniak has played 110 minutes since the start of the tournament. There’s a chance she sees the field in the semifinal.
Veronica Latsko: The former Wahoo has played at least seven minutes in every Houston match in the tournament, including two outings with at least 60 minutes of playing time. She saw 19 minutes of action in the tram’s quarterfinal victory. Goals have been hard to come by throughout the NWSL Challenge Cup, but Latsko hopes to find one in the semifinals as the Dash aim to advance to the championship with a victory over Portland.
Becky Sauerbrunn: A star on the national team for the past 10 years or so, Sauerbrunn is one of the marquee names on Portland’s roster. Unfortunately, she’s been battling a hip injury during the tournament.
The reliable defender played a full 90 minutes in the team’s first match of the NWSL Challenge Cup, but she hasn’t played since due to the injury. She adds tremendous experience and talent defensively when she’s healthy. Sauerbrunn will miss the semifinal match, according to the team’s Tuesday injury report.