The Colorados are gearing up for a hot start in the NWSL Challenge Cup as the regular season is set to kick off this week

It’s been a significant spring for the Colorado women’s soccer community.

Yes, the USWNT will be coming to Commerce City in June, but for local favorites to be part of Vlatko Andonovski’s squad, they need to remain consistent at club level.

The NWSL regular season is due to start this week, but the Challenge Cup, a pre-season tournament, has given local players plenty of moments. Seven Colorados scored a total of 15 goals in the tournament.

Entering the 22-game regular season that starts Friday and ends in September, with the playoffs running through October, the 14 Colorado women will be looking to make an impact. Here’s a look at some of the best in Centennial State ahead of the opening whistle.

Portland Thorns

Sophia Smith, Windsor — Smith has already scored three goals in the Challenge Cup, a hat-trick against Angel City in the home debut of the Thorns last month. Fossil Ridge High alum did the same against Uzbekistan in a friendly match for USWNT last month. Smith scored seven goals last year, but he will be aiming for a double-digit league tally this season.

Natalie Beckman, Aurora The DU rookie was a spark off the bench for Portland as she played 152 minutes, started once and assisted Smith on a stunning goal. Despite being 5’2″ on the list and second-to-last in the January draft, the Grandview alum has already proven she’s dangerous offensively and can make an impact when called up.

Janine Becky, Highlands Ranch “The newest addition to Portland, Becky, an alumnus of Valor Christian Club, arrived earlier this month from Manchester City. Becky, who has chosen to play for Canada on the international stage, will play a key role in the final third of this season.

Racing Louisville FC

Jaelyn Howell, Lonely Tree Number two overall from Florida is adjusting quickly to life in the NWSL. Howell, a Fossil Ridge High School graduate, recently scored her first senior USWNT goal. And she supported this international count with her first professional goal last week. Expectations are high for the two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner, with Howell likely a contender for Rookie of the Year.

Lauren Millier, Durango “The only Colorado native who grew up outside of the Front Range and is currently in the league, a product of Colorado College who played in all 24 games for Racing last year. She scored once in the Challenge Cup.and looks to cement Centennial State’s connection with Howell in Racing midfield.

Kansas City Current

Kristen Hamilton, Littleton Hamilton was thrilled to start the season, leading Current to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup with four goals, including Saturday Game Winner. With this consistency and other strengths as a Columbine alumnus, the Current will be in contention for a playoff spot this year.

Alex Loera, Thornton “The current rookie, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year at the West Coast Conference in Santa Clara, has adapted brilliantly so far. The Academy graduate made five starts in six games in 428 minutes, and one great goalthe first in her professional career.

Chicago Red Stars

Mallory Pugh, Highlands Ranch – In the scorers category, Pugh is not far behind, having scored four goals for Red Star this year. Mountain Vista High also received four times for USWNTand is set to host the Concacaf W Championship, a qualifier for the 2023 Women’s World Championship in July.


Other Colorados in the NWSL – Washington Spirit: Jordan Baggett (Highlands Ranch); OL Reign: Ellie Watt (Colorado Springs); North Carolina Courage: Ryan Williams (centenary); Angel City FC: Brittany Isenhur (Littleton); New York/NJ Gotham: Estelle Johnson (Fort Collins); San Diego Wave: Sydney Pulver (Parker).