Three local women’s college soccer players are leaving their teams for the rest of the season, but it's for a pretty good reason: they're trying to get a country to the World Cup.
Marquette's Ryley Bugay, along with UW-Milwaukee's Olivia Davies and Chandler McDaniel, have been selected to train and compete with the Philippines Women’s National Team as the squad attempts to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France. Bugay is a redshirt junior midfielder, while Davies and McDaniel, who are sisters, are a redshirt sophomore goalkeeper and junior forward, respectively.
They will compete with the Philippines, which apparently has lots of local soccer ties and is preparing to participate in the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup in Amman, Jordan, starting April 6. That tournament is also a qualifier for the FIFA Women's World Cup, with the five top finishers clinching spots in the 2019 World Cup.
The three players will miss much or all of the remainder of the spring semester, but their coaches don't seem to mind.
"We couldn’t be more excited for Ryley," Marquette head coach Markus Roeders said. "She is living her dreams, and we are cheering for her and the Philippines in their quest to qualify for the World Cup. Based on all the feedback we have received, Ry will play a huge role on the team. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for Ry and speaks volumes to how far she has come as a player."
Said Panthers head coach Troy Fabiano: "Any opportunity you have to play for a national team on an international stage is special. The fact that Chandler and Olivia were selected to represent the Philippines in the AFC Women's Asian Cup shows their caliber as players, as well as the quality of our program. We look forward to their continued success on the field this spring."
A holding midfielder known for her leadership, intelligence and defensive toughness, Bugay started all 21 matches and played a team-high 1,871 minutes in 2017, earning the nickname "Ry Boo Boo Glue" from her coach because of how she keeps the Golden Eagles together.
Bugay attended the Philippines’ national team identification camp over Thanksgiving week last year in California, and was joined during its final training camp over Christmas break by her younger sister, Sammi, a 2018 Marquette signee.
"We will miss her at Marquette for the rest of the spring season, but the experiences she will have on her journey and bring back to our squad for her senior season this fall will be invaluable," Roeders said. "We wish her all the best and know she and the team will do great."
Both Milwaukee sisters transferred to the program. Davies, who came two years ago from Cal State Fullerton, played in five games in 2016 (posting a 1.13 goals-against average) and did not appear last season. McDaniel, who transferred from Virginia Tech at semester break, is new to the Panthers.
According to Milwaukee Athletics, the sisters have already played a vital role in the Philippines' success, with Davies posting a shutout in a 1-0 exhibition win over Cal State Northridge on Feb. 25 and McDaniel scoring the only goal.
The Philippines’ 30-player squad will train this week before leaving for friendlies in Japan during the middle of March. After those matches, the team will travel back to the Philippines for more friendlies prior to Asian Cup games in Jordan from April 6-12 against China, Jordan and Thailand. The team needs to go at least 1-1-1 in those matches to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which would be the country's first.
Bugay is from West Lafayette, Indiana, and the UWM sisters were born in Corona, California. They are among the handful of players on the Philippines from a college in the United States. The team is coached by an American, Richard Boon, who took over in October 2017 and oversaw the U.S.-based identification camp intended to expand the Philippines' talent pool.
Bugay is not the only Marquette player who’s trained with a national team and hopes to represent it in the World Cup. Kylie Sprecher, a freshman forward from Menomonee Falls who led the Golden Eagles with six assists in 2017, played on the United States U-19 and U-20 teams.
In addition, former Marquette midfielder Morgan Proffitt competed with the U.S. U-23 team in 2016, and her Golden Eagles teammate, Maegan Kelly, made her international debut last year with the Canadian Women’s National Team.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.