Mallory Diane Pugh (1998–) is an American professional soccer player for the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) and the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). One of the most accomplished Colorado soccer players in history, she also became the youngest American ever to score an Olympic goal. Pugh helped the USWNT win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, making her the second former Colorado high school soccer player to hoist the World Cup trophy.
Mallory Pugh was born on April 29, 1998, in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch. She began playing soccer at age four and soon showed that she had the skill to play for Real Colorado in the Elite Clubs National League. Pugh and Real Colorado won the state championship in 2010 and 2011, and finished second in 2013 and 2014. By her last two years with Real Colorado, Pugh showed so much talent that the club’s athletics director often had her train with the club’s boys’ development team.
In 2012 Pugh enrolled at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch. She led the soccer team to a state championship in her freshman year and earned a spot on the 2012 All-Colorado team. In 2013 she was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Youth All-American. Pugh’s junior year earned her more accolades, including Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year, US Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, and Colorado Sports Hall of Fame High School Female Athlete of the Year. By her senior year she had already been recruited to the USWNT. She graduated in 2016 as the nation’s number-one recruit in women’s soccer and was already one of the most accomplished Colorado athletes in US soccer history.
US Women’s National Team
Throughout her teenage years in Colorado, Pugh balanced playing locally for Mountain Vista and in international competitions for US amateur teams at the under-fifteen, under-seventeen, and under-twenty levels. At the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, she started every game despite being the youngest player on the team at just sixteen years old. At the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, she won the Golden Boot Award for most goals scored and the Golden Ball Award for best overall player.
Indeed, Pugh played so well for the US amateur teams that at the age of just seventeen and still in high school, she became the youngest player to debut for the US Women’s National Team in eleven years. Her first appearance came on January 23, 2016, against the Republic of Ireland. She scored her first international goal in the eighty-third minute, becoming only the nineteenth player in US history to score in her senior team debut. She went on to play at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the second youngest female soccer Olympian in US history. She scored her first Olympic goal in the fifty-ninth minute of her debut, making her the youngest US player to score at the Olympics.
Pugh’s success with the senior team continued over the next two years, and in 2019 she accompanied the team to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. The twenty-one-year-old scored her first World Cup goal in the team’s first match. The USWNT went on to win the World Cup. Pugh became the second former Colorado high school soccer player to win a Women’s World Cup, after only April Heinrichs in 1991.
After graduating high school in 2016, Pugh delayed her start at the University of California–Los Angeles until 2017 because of her commitments for the USWNT. Pugh then played only three games for UCLA before leaving the school in April 2017 to focus full-time on national and professional opportunities. On May 20, 2017, Pugh made her debut for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League. In her first season with the team, she led the team with six goals and was a finalist for NWSL Rookie of the Year. As of 2019, Pugh continues to play for the Spirit.