NCAA champ Kelsey Turnbow wraps up collegiate career, excited for NWSL 'dream'

Turnbow then wrapped up her collegiate career by nearly making it back to the championship only to lose in heartbreaking fashion to BYU earlier this month in penalty kicks. The future National Women’s Soccer League pro reflected on an incredible collegiate career with the Broncos in an interview with Fox News Thursday.

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Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos reacts after scoring a goal against the Florida State Seminoles during the Division I Women's Soccer Championship at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park on May 17, 2021 in Cary, N.C.

Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos reacts after scoring a goal against the Florida State Seminoles during the Division I Women’s Soccer Championship at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park on May 17, 2021 in Cary, N.C. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“It’s just been such an honor to play for such an incredible program. There’s so much history in the program and so much success. And our goal was to bring the program back to the College Cup and hopefully win a championship,” Turnbow said. “I’m really proud that we were able to do that this past year, within the past two seasons in 2021.

“Something I love so much about our program is that we are not only growing as soccer players but as overall people as well. I think that’s truly special and original. I couldn’t be more blessed for the past five years.”

Turnbow and the Broncos played two seasons in one year. The 2020-21 season was played between February and May, while the 2021-22 season was played from August to December.

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In the first half of the year, Turnbow scored an equalizing goal in the national championship to eventually force the game into penalty shots, and Santa Clara defeated No. 1-seeded Florida State. The win brought Santa Clara its first women’s soccer national title since 2001. The team finished 15-5-3 overall in the second half of the year and lost to BYU in the College Cup semifinal.  

Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos battles Emily Madril (25) of the Florida State Seminoles for the ball during the Division I Women's Soccer Championship at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park May 17, 2021 in Cary, North Carolina.

Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos battles Emily Madril (25) of the Florida State Seminoles for the ball during the Division I Women’s Soccer Championship at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park May 17, 2021 in Cary, North Carolina. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Over the course of the calendar year, she scored 21 goals and added 16 assists along with nine game-winners.

Turnbow, who spoke to Fox News on behalf of ChiliSleep, a company for which she became a brand ambassador earlier this year, said winning the College Cup and being able to play the final match of her career in what amounted to a home game in Santa Clara were some of the top moments in her career.

Turnbow became a brand ambassador for ChiliSleep during the 2021-22 season.

Turnbow became a brand ambassador for ChiliSleep during the 2021-22 season. (ChiliSleep)

“I have two actually and both are within in the College Cup,” she said. “Obviously the national championship, you can’t beat that. That was so special, especially during COVID. We overcame so much adversity during that season and for us to come away with a national championship under our belt it was absolutely huge.

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“My second moment would be just the final four the other day playing against BYU in our home stadium. We felt so much love and support from our Bronco community, and we were playing in front of like 8,000 people, and it was basically a home game. It was a neutral site but basically a home game, and it made me feel just so proud to be a Santa Clara Bronco.”

The star forward will now turn her attention to preparing for her first National Women’s Soccer League season. She was initially selected by the Chicago Red Stars in the 2021 NWSL Draft but was traded to the expansion San Diego Wave FC earlier this month along with Katie Johnson and Makenzy Doniak.

Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos is introduced before their game against the Florida State Seminoles during the Division I Women's Soccer Championship held at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park May 17, 2021, in Cary, North Carolina.

Kelsey Turnbow (10) of the Santa Clara Broncos is introduced before their game against the Florida State Seminoles during the Division I Women’s Soccer Championship held at Sahlens Stadium at Wakemed Soccer Park May 17, 2021, in Cary, North Carolina. (Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

She told Fox News she was ready for the next level.

“I could not be more excited to play pro soccer,” she said. “It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl. Becoming a college athlete and experiencing that, and now I’m making the next step of playing professional soccer in one of the best leagues in the entire world is just such a privilege. And it takes a village and I couldn’t have gotten to this position alone – my family, my coaches, my mentors, teammates, friends, you name it — have all played such a huge role in this journey. I think my experiences have prepared me well for this next step. It’s going to be very challenging but very rewarding at the same time.”

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