Maya Hayes will miss the 2018 NWSL season. (Photo by Jeffrey Auger)

TINTON FALLS, N.J. — Sky Blue FC forward Maya Hayes has notified the team that she will sit out the National Women’s Soccer League season because she plans to pursue a master’s degree.

Hayes, 25, has played with Sky Blue for her entire pro career.

Hayes has not made a decision as to what school she will attend or what degree she would pursue, a Sky Blue FC spokesman said.

“This was a really hard decision to make,” Hayes said. “After taking a lot of time to think and talk with friends and family, it just seemed like the timing was right to switch gears a little bit. Getting my Master’s is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. Some good opportunities arose for me, and I ultimately decided to take advantage of them.

“Obviously, I am going to miss Sky Blue FC a lot, but I want to wish the team and organization all the best. The future is still open, so I definitely do not want to call this an official retirement.”

After being selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NWSL college draft, the New Jersey native competed with her hometown club over the next four seasons. She scored a team second-best five goals in 2017, adding four assists. Her portfolio over the past four years includes nine goals and six assists, making 44 starts over 74 appearances.

“On behalf of everybody at Sky Blue FC, we want to wish Maya all the best as she enters this exciting new chapter of her professional life,” Sky Blue FC president and general manager Tony Novo. “We cannot thank Maya enough for her contributions over the past four seasons. Needless to say, we would love to see her put on the boots again in the future if she feels the timing is right. We know she will remain a strong supporter of Sky Blue FC on the field, and her work ethic will certainly lead her to continued success back in the classroom.”

One of the most decorated players in Penn State history, Hayes was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American. She was named a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist for three consecutive years, including her being a finalist in 2011. She was also a three-time first team All-Big Ten selection, as well as the forward of the year in 2011 and 2012. She finished with 71 career goals, the third most in program history. She is also ranked third in points with 163.

On the international front, the former U.S. Under-23 women’s national team player was a member of a U.S. side that won the 2012 Women’s U-20 World Cup, as well as the 2010 and 2012 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship.