Cactus grad part of Women’s National Soccer Team champions

Cactus High graduate Jessica McDonald celebrates winning the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with her son, Jeremiah.

The dominating performance at the international stage U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup had a bit of local flare to it. 

Among those celebrating the hoisting of the country’s fourth trophy after a 2-0 win over the Netherlands on July 7 was Jessica McDonald, an Arizona native who graduated from Cactus High School over a decade ago. She, and several other members of the National Team, took part in several team celebrations before returning to the North Carolina Courage, her full-time club team in the NWSL.

McDonald, who graduated from Cactus in 2006 and played several sports for the Cobras — she was a member of the 2004 and 2006 state championship basketball teams and remains one of the top performers at track and field beside her soccer excellence — was one of the oldest players on the NationalTeam. She reflected on her experience at the World Cup, and said the pride runs even further than just representing Arizona and the United States.

“I’m out here not just representing the state I am from, not just my family name, not just the United States, but all the moms out there,” McDonald told Yahoo! Sports. “That’s super cool for me.”

Representing success for mothers was high on McDonald’s priority list when it came to her time with the USWNT. She was the only mother on the roster. 

Her son, Jeremiah, who was born in 2012, spent time celebrating the championship with her on the field, making confetti angels on the ground.

“He doesn’t fully understand, but at least he’s an age right now where he’s actually going to remember this,” McDonald told The Associated Press. “He’s going to look back and be like, ‘Wow, I was there. Wow, my mom is actually cool — like she said.’”

Now back with her team, McDonald will have to reintegrate herself with the Courage’s lineup, which has found success even without some of its top players during the World Cup.

However, she fits back into the team. Courage coach Paul Riley told the News and Observer, a local Carolina publication, that the returning players, including McDonald, will hopefully increase interest around the league and team and provide excellent experience and lessons for the rest of the women on the roster.

“(The World Cup) has been massive for us and the league,” Riley said. “They have to have that quality that they showed in France here now, and that goes for every player that’s in the league.”

Julie Ertz, a Mesa resident and graduate of Dobson High, was also a key contributor on the 2019 championship team.