Who Is Emily Sonnett? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup

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Who Is Emily Sonnett? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup

After winning all their games in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup so far — Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, Sweden 2-0, and Spain 2-1 — the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is set to face off against France on June 28th! If these talented ladies make it to the finals, they’ll play the game on July 7th, and hopefully become the champions... again.

The U.S. team has won three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, making them the most successful team in international women’s soccer. They've won far more than the men’s team, their counterparts, and thusly, have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging unequal pay. 

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The lawsuit shouldn’t be a distraction, at least not according to the team. Instead, why not focus on the individual players and what each of them bring to the team, both on and off the field? Who is Emily Sonnett? Here are 5 things to know about the defender for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

1. She’s played from a young age.

Sonnett and her identical twin sister, Emma, both began playing soccer when they were quite young. In fact, her father noticed the twins running around the playground and said, “I want those two on my team.”

In high school, Sonnett helped her team make it to the state championship in Georgia, and was named Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year. She also played in the club team NASA 12 Elite II.

2. And she continued to play throughout college.

She attended the University of Virginia and played for the Virginia Cavaliers from 2012 to 2015. During her collegiate career, she was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team, recognized as Most Outstanding Defensive Player, and became team captain her senior year. She was also named a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, NSCAA first-team All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-ACC, and ESPNW National Player of the Year.

According to Sonnett, this is when she and her sister “switched” positions, with Emily herself becoming a center back rather than letting Emma lead. She said, “I went from scoring goals to stopping them.”

3. She eventually went pro.

In 2016, she was drafted to Portland Thorns FC, a team she currently remains on. She was named to the NWSL Best XI and was a finalist for Defender of the Year. In 2017, she signed to Sydney FC for the 2017 W-League season, on loan.

Sonnett also served as an alternate in the 2016 Rio Olympics, started all three games the 2018 Tournament of Nations, and played in the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship and 2019 SheBelieves Cup.

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4. She wasn’t always so confident in her abilities.

After facing high expectations from her club and national teams, she determined that she needed to bring her A-game if she wanted to make it:

“From college to pro, the mental game is a lot more than what people make it out to be. People do always say it’s important. But it is really important, because you could find yourself not doing well, or you’re not having fun...

I think first year, consistency is a big one. Just mentality in general, if you’re not having a good time, that’s not going to transpire into consistency. And if you’re not consistent, you’re not going to play, and you’re not going to show well, and that’s what it comes down to...

I think, not just my rookie year but now, this past year, my mental side [was crucial]. I’ve read a couple of books... They use tennis as a medium to talk about how you talk to yourself, because that’s also really important. One day you’re not performing and then, oh no, you’re getting down on yourself. That’s not going to be good. Then you start believing what you’re saying...

People say it’s a big part of the game, but it really is a big part of the game. I think that is really what my growth was. Not all. There’s obviously physical, technique and things, but my mental side of the game, I think, grew tremendously over the last year, realizing what I’m not good at, what I need to improve, and really breaking it down, in terms of little goals to reach the bigger goal.”

5. Her coach has a lot to say about her improvement.

In an interview with UVA Today, assistant coach Steve Swanson commented on Sonnett’s abilities. He said:

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“Yeah, she’s improved an awful lot. When she started at Virginia, she hadn’t played much defense at all in her career. She was always a center midfielder. She played four years of college as a central defender and really distinguished herself. But I think the pro game has given her even more experience against more sophisticated and better players who she needed to see more consistently to become a better defender. I think she’s really improved as a professional and I think that’s really helped her with the national team.

She’s a very versatile player; she can play anywhere in the back. I think she deserves a lot of credit for understanding the differences in the roles and working very hard to improve herself. I think she’ll be an important piece for us. If you’re going to win the World Cup, you’re going to have to play seven games in a short time frame and will need a lot of players, and I think Emily will be an important piece as well.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.