Former Virginia Cavaliers women’s soccer star Emily Sonnett will be heading to her second World Cup with the U.S. Women’s National Team this summer. Starting on July 20th, the ninth Women’s World Cup is taking place in Australia and New Zealand. Team USA are the top-ranked team in the world and the betting favorites for this year’s tournament, particularly after having won the last two editions.
Looking back at Sonnett’s time at Virginia and for the national team there’s no doubt as to why Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski has selected her.
The moment Sonnett stepped on Grounds at Virginia in 2012 she made her presence known. The Georgia native played in 24 games as a true freshman and started at center back in 16 of them. Her first career goal against Boston College was a game-winner, and she made both the ACC All-Freshman and All-Tournament teams. The Wahoos won the ACC Regular Season Title that year and made it it to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Year two was more of the same for Sonnett as she started in every game the Cavaliers played and her 2,341 minutes set a single-season minutes played record for the program. UVA made it to the College Cup (college soccer’s Final Four) for the first time since 1991 and Sonnett earned First Team All-ACC honors as well with a pair of goals and five assists on the season.
The accolades kept pouring in for Sonnett in her third season in Charlottesville and so did the success for her squad. Virginia made it back to the College Cup in 2014, going one game further and making the program’s first College Cup Final before devastatingly losing to Florida State 1-0. Nevertheless, Sonnett was named as the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Defender.
The ‘Hoos would lose in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament in Sonnett’s fourth and final year at UVA, but that season was also her best. Sonnett was named the ESPNW Player of the Year, was a MAC Herman Trophy finalist, a First-Team All American, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and the first overall pick in the NWSL draft.
During her senior season Sonnett was called up to the USWNT for the first time, registering three caps in 2015 and played center back against Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, and China during Team USA’s Victory Tour celebrating the 2015 World Cup victory.
From there, Sonnett steadily climbed the ranks of the USWNT and earned a spot on the 2019 World Cup team. She appeared in one match, subbing into the group stage game against Chile.
This summer, Sonnett will be a reserve fullback who could be a depth piece at center as well. Fellow Wahoo and USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn will unfortunately miss the World Cup due to injury, meaning that the 29-year old Sonnett could see increased opportunities with only two center backs on the roster and the potential for left-back Crystal Dunn to move to midfield.
When Sonnett does register her first appearance in the World Cup it will be her 75th cap, making her just the 51st player in history to have played in 75 games for the USWNT.
Team USA kicks off its hunt for a third consecutive World Cup title on July 21st against Vietnam with additional group stages contests against Netherlands (July 26th) and Portugal (August 1st) deciding if the Americans will advance.