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Elyse Bennett wasn’t going to turn pro. Now, she looks like she’s been here all along

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports.

Two years ago, when the world grinded to a halt in deference to COVID-19, the last thing on Elyse Bennett’s mind was a professional soccer career. A global lockdown, however, was not the reason for the senior-to-be at Washington State. She was applying to physician’s assistant programs for grad school. Playing soccer beyond college was not part of the plan.

“I had actually finished my biology degree in three years and my plan going into college was to go to physician assistant school,” Bennet, 23, recently told The Equalizer. “I started applying and got some interviews. I kind of went through that process and just found that maybe it wasn’t what I was wanting to do at the time. So, I took my fifth year and came back to Washington State.”

The PAC-12, the conference Bennett decided early on that she wanted to play in, deferred its 2020 fall season and played in the spring of 2021. That gave Bennett an opportunity to play two seasons in 2021. During the fall, officially her fifth season as part of the restructuring of NCAA eligibility due to COVID-19, Bennett was named to the All-Conference first team and All-American second team. A little more than a year after it looked like she was heading to grad school, Bennett was enrolling in the National Women’s Soccer League Draft.

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