Pepperdine Alums Compete in First U.S. Pro Sports of Coronavirus Era

A quintet of former Pepperdine Waves women’s soccer players was among the first athletes to strike a soccer ball in the U.S. when their sport returned to action last weekend after a long hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Past Waves Bri Visalli, Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, Hailey Harbison, Lynn William and Michelle Maemone are participating in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup in Utah. 

The eight-team event is being held in place of the NWSL’s regular season, normally held from April to June in cities across the nation. The monthlong tournament will run until July 26. The NWSL is the first professional team sports league in the United States to return to action since the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, shutdown the country’s sporting world in March. 

Williams and Harbison are members of the defending NWSL champion North Carolina Courage, which grabbed a 2-1 victory over the Portland Thorns on June 27. Williams, an attacker, scored the winning goal in added time via a header to secure three points for the Courage. She played 90 minutes. Harbison, a defender, was a substitute. 

As a Wave, Harbison was the West Coast Conference (WCC) Defender of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and was an All-WCC player during all four of her seasons. She missed the 2019 season due to injury. 

Williams, a 2015 Pepperdine grad, was a four-time All-WCC honoree and an All-American in 2014. She tallied a total 39 goals and 24 assists in college. As a pro, Williams  won three NWSL titles and both the NWSL MVP and Golden Boot awards in 2016. She has played for the U.S. National Team in 23 matchups and has scored eight goals.


Visalli, a midfielder, suited up for the Houston Dash in its contest against Utah Royals FC on June 30. Before signing with the Dash earlier this year, Visalli had played for a pair of teams in England since graduating from Pepperdine three years ago.  While a Wave, she was a second team All-American and the WCC Player of the Year during her senior season. She rang up 25 goals and 10 assists during her Pepperdine career. Visalli was an All-WCC player all four seasons in college. 

Jonsdottir and Maemone are members of the Utah’s squad. Jonsdottir, a midfielder, is a native of Iceland. She only played with the Waves as a 2010 freshman before making the leap to the professional level. Jonsdottir did earn All-WCC honorable mention status that season. Maemone, a second-year defender, was an All-WCC honorable mention in 2016 before graduating from Pepperdine in 2019.

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