KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the national Challenge Cup approaches, FOX4 is getting to know some of the women sporting new Kansas City soccer jerseys.
Defender Katie Bowen grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. She said her family is all back there living “fairly COVID-free.”
Bowen played for the University of North Carolina before going pro. Her team won the NCAA championship in 2012, defeating Penn State 4-1.
“I was quite naïve to the fact of, like, what a national championship was,” Bowen said. “I didn’t know a lot about the states and how superior the collegiate experience was, so I think winning there and managing to have my family there as well was just an incredible experience.”
Then, she was drafted to FC Kansas City in 2016 under emerging star head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who now leads the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I loved my time with him. I was sad when he wasn’t able to come to Utah with us, but you know the two years I had under him, I learned a lot,” Bowen said.
She played two seasons here before the club was dissolved. She has also played for the New Zealand national team, playing in the Olympics and the World Cup. After KC, she transferred to Salt Lake City with many of the other players, only to return this year.
“It’s amazing being back in KC. It’s kind of like déjà vu,” Bowen said. “I think this time around, it’s a lot more professional, and that’s great to see because I was really sad to leave KC because the support here is fantastic, and so when we had to leave and seeing how sad the home fans were, it was really tough, so I’m really happy to be back and I hope that we can bring success to this city.”
Although the team has a lot of wins in their pre-season friendlies and earned another clean sheet against the University of Kansas team, Bowen said there’s still a lot of work to do.
“I think, you know, we’re still trying to execute the game plan. We’ve still got things to work on.”
Her coach agrees. Huw Williams told reporters that the team needs to work on finishing strong. He said the players and staff have high expectations for success.
The Challenge Cup will begin on April 9. The tournament was created in 2020 as a way to announce the return of soccer from the pandemic. Kansas City is set to take on the Portland Thorns FC in their first match this year.
The seasonal home opener is on Monday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Field of Legends in Kansas City, Kan. You can buy tickets online.