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Pioneering soccer coach, St. Paul native Jennifer Haigh dies at 45 after cancer battle

The former pro soccer player made college sports history.

A pioneering women's soccer player and coach has died from cancer at the age of 45.

Jenny Haigh, a native of St. Paul, became the youngest Division 1 head coach in the country when in 2000 she was hired by Northwestern University.

She was a 1991 graduate of Cretin Derham-Hall, where she was a three sport athlete and was named to the 1989 all-conference soccer team.

She will be a 2018 inductee into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

After leaving CDH, she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she captained the women's soccer team and was named to the All Big Ten Academic Team.

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Professional soccer followed, playing in Sweden, before she returned to the U.S. as an assistant women's soccer coach at Arizona State, with her role at Northwestern to come after a few years at the University of Missouri.

As her obituary notes, the diagnosis of the bone cancer chordoma in 2009 "changed her life in many ways but it never dampened her spirit."

She fought the disease for nine years before her death, and was happiest at her cabin at Big Sandy Lake.

She is survived by her wife, Aileen Guiney, and two children, son Billy Cantor and daughter Tallulah.

Haigh is also an alumni of Highland Catholic School, which paid tribute to her this week on Facebook, saying: "Jenny was spectacular and we can't help but think the world is a little snowier and colder without her. May she rest in peace." 

Her funeral was held Friday at the Lumen Christi Catholic Church in St. Paul.

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