When the 2019 Women’s World Cup kicks off this summer in France, UConn women’s soccer will be represented. Tori Patterson, a defender who played for the Huskies from 2014-16, was named to Jamaica’s World Cup roster while Steph Labbe — a goalkeeper from 2005-08 — made Canada’s roster.
During her career in Storrs, Patterson won 2016 Co-Defensive Player of the Year along with First Team All-Conference Honors that year while helping UConn to two AAC Tournament titles in 2014 and 2016. She finished her career with 53 starts in 64 career games while contributing to 27 shutouts.
While Patterson was born in the United States, both her parents hail from Jamaica, making her eligible for the national team. She played with the Reggae Girlz’s U20 team earlier in her career but didn’t get her first call up to the senior national team until 2018.
Labbe, meanwhile, will be just the fifth goalkeeper to start for Canada in the World Cup since 1995. Despite making the roster the last two go-arounds, she never saw action as the backup.
However, Patterson and Labbe won’t be the first former UConn women’s soccer player to play in a World Cup.
Sara Whalen (1994-97) won it all with Team USA during the 1999 World Cup. During the tournament, she played 165 minutes in three games and was on the field during the legendary penalty kick shootout in the final against China.
“When Brandi [Chastain scored the decisive kick], it was like the most exciting elation,“ Whalen told USSoccer.com back in 2014. “Honestly, I can’t describe it. I’ve never ran a faster 40 in my life, and I ran fast 40s. I think I went from midfield to the penalty box in, like, half a second.”
Whalen is regarded as one of the best players in school history. During her time in Storrs, Whalen was named a three-time All-American (1995-97), two-time Big East Defender of the Year (1996-97), 1997 NSCAA National Player of the Year and set the record for the most goals, assists and points by a senior at UConn. Her No. 8 is also one of two numbers retired by the program along with Tara Buckley’s No. 5.
In total, 12 UConn players have dressed for the US National Team over the years, thought it hasn’t occurred since 2011. Three current Huskies have played for their respective home country’s underage national team: Vivien Beil (Germany), Kess Elmore (England) and Pato Jerzak (Poland).