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Bears down under: 5 Cal alums gear up for Women’s World Cup

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JULY 20, 2023

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, set to kick off Thursday, women’s soccer’s biggest stage has been set. Among the 32 teams competing in the tournament this summer, five Cal alumni — Alex Morgan, Ifeoma Onumonu, Guro Bergsvand, Betsy Hassett and Daisy Cleverley — will represent four countries vying for world glory.

Morgan, already an icon of the sport and one of Cal’s most influential alumni, seeks to add a third World Cup title to her already illustrious resume. She will lead the United States’ front line as co-captain alongside Lindsey Horan.

During her 13-year senior international career, Morgan has notched 207 appearances and 121 goals, ranking 10th- and fifth-highest, respectively, in U.S. Women’s National Team, or USWNT, history. The soccer legend has led the USWNT to two World Cup wins and an Olympic gold medal.

Morgan is coming off the most prolific club season of her career, having scored 15 goals from just 15.9 full 90s of play for the San Diego Wave last year — her first ever Golden Boot, earned for scoring the most goals in a season at the club level. This bodes well for a U.S. team that finds itself as the tournament favorite, albeit by a slimmer margin than it is accustomed to.

Attacker Onumonu switched to represent Nigeria at the senior level after playing for the USWNT U-23’s. Onumonu was drafted as the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL draft after a stellar college career: She notched 33 goals and 17 assists in 82 appearances for the Bears over five seasons.

Onumonu has come off the bench to play across the front line for Gotham this season. This versatility is part of why she is an integral piece of the Super Falcons’ attack: She started every game for Nigeria in its 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign and opened the scoring in Nigeria’s 8-1 thrashing of Queensland Lions FC on July 14 in preparation for the World Cup.

Coming into the tournament with a very different storyline than that of the United States, the Super Falcons only have an outside chance of making a mark on this World Cup, with one of the lowest odds to win the competition.

Bergsvand, center back, will represent Norway in her first ever World Cup. Born in Oslo, Bergsvand has represented Norway at the senior international level since 2021. She played in blue and gold for only three seasons, missing one due to injury, before graduating in 2017.

Upon graduation, she played professionally in Norway before making the step up to the Women’s Super League in 2023, joining Brighton & Hove Albion. This past season, she started nine times for a struggling Brighton team, but demonstrated a remarkable eye for a long ball, averaging an impressive 0.49 key passes per 90 — among the best in the league.

Cal’s two Kiwi representatives, Hassett and Cleverley, will kick off the competition on July 20 in New Zealand’s match against Bergsvand’s Norway.

Hassett graduated from Cal in 2012 after four seasons as an attacking midfielder for the blue and gold. She played across Europe before moving to Wellington Phoenix in 2021. Hassett started and played all 90 minutes in New Zealand’s most recent international friendly, a 2-0 win over Vietnam. This will be her fourth World Cup for the Football Ferns.

Cleverley graduated from Cal before playing for one season at Georgetown as a graduate transfer. She will be the youngest Cal graduate to participate in the World Cup this year at 26, having begun her senior club career at HB Køge in Denmark last year. In her first season at the club level, she appeared in 13 games en route to HB Køge’s third title.

Contact Colin Mequet at 


JULY 20, 2023