After more than a year since speculation arose that Mallory Pugh would turn professional in lieu of playing soccer at UCLA, turns out she never will play an official game for the Bruins.
Pugh is set to leave UCLA early and turn professional, the school announced in a release on Monday night. The U.S. Women's National Team rising star had enrolled at the Pac-12 power and played three games during the current spring season.
"This decision was certainly not easy for me to make," Pugh said in a press release. "UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would've been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity. I want to thank my teammates, coaches, UCLA Athletics, and everyone else for the support I have behind me. I may have been here for a short time, but UCLA will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be a Bruin."
Originally part of the 2016 recruiting class, Pugh delayed her enrollment to this spring, sitting out the 2016 season to compete at the Under-20 Women's World Cup. Reports suggested that Pugh turned down an offer to join the NWSL at the beginning of 2016.
"We are sad to see Mal depart UCLA, but it's exciting for her to have such a unique opportunity," said UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell. "Our relationship with Mal started a long time ago in the recruiting process. We've seen her develop and grow into an amazing young woman and player. Mal will always be a Bruin, and we have no doubt that she is destined for great things as her career progresses."
While her next step is unclear, SI.com reported that Pugh is set to sign on with agent Richard Motzkin, and consider opportunities in France and the NWSL.