Junior College transfer Siobhan Longmore links up with Lamar

Junior college transfer Siobhan Longmore has re-established the link between Australia and Lamar University, becoming the Cardinals’ first Australian since Danielle Pearce finished in 2013. Longmore also becomes the second Western Australian to make the move to Division I this year, with the Busselton product joining La Salle’s Alyssa Van Heurck in commencing her career at the top collegiate level in 2018. Versatile and athletic, Longmore has been earmarked as a defender for Lamar, but can play in a variety of positions, as shown by her goalscoring exploits in junior college.

Longmore spent the past two seasons playing for Dodge City Community College in Kansas, banging home 10 goals in 18 games in 2017 as well as tallying five assists. Prior to this, the junior slotted 8 goals and picked up 4 assists in 14 appearances in her freshman season of 2016.

Speaking in an official release, Lamar coach Steve Holeman praised Longmore’s athleticism. ”Siobhan is fast, athletic, and skillful. She is a natural left-footer, which is something we didn’t have on last year’s back line,” Holeman explained. “Because of her size and speed, she will be tough to beat. She also gives us another attacking option with her ability to play short and long passes from her outside back position or simply attack on the dribble.”

Meanwhile, Dodge City Community College coach Steward Bortey pointed out the Western Australian’s mental strengths. “Siobhan is an awesome person. She is fun to work with and very coachable. She has the drive to be successful in everything she does,” Bortey explained. “She is very athletic and very fast and will not let anyone stop her. I describe her as a game changer or a difference maker. She is fun to watch because of her athletic abilities and how explosive she is.”

With no left-footed defenders in last year’s Cardinals squad, Longmore will certainly provide a much-needed point of difference as the team attempts to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning last year’s Southland Conference tournament and dropping just one game in the conference regular season on the way to an overall record of 18-4-1.

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National Representative Ashleigh Lefevre headed to Illinois

Young Matildas representative Ashleigh Lefevre has become the latest Australian player with international experience to make the move to college, heading to Big Ten program Illinois.

Young Matildas representative Ashleigh Lefevre has become the latest Australian player with international experience to make the move to college, heading to Big Ten program Illinois. The versatile wide player has three caps for the Young Matildas as part of the 2016 AFF Championship squad, and also chalked up a goal in the team’s 20-0 demolition of Timor-Leste’s full national team in that tournament.

Lefevre spent the 2017 season playing for Alamein FC in the NPL Victoria competition, making 25 appearances and playing alongside former Florida International star and current Melbourne City W-League midfielder Amy Jackson as Alamein snuck into the finals in fourth place but fell in the minor semi-final to eventual grand finalists Geelong Galaxy United. Prior to playing for Alamein, Lefevre featured in the FFV NTC side in the 2016 NPL Victoria competition, making 16 appearances and chipping in with 12 goals as the NTC side finished 7th in the league. That NTC side also featured Melbourne Victory players Kyra Cooney-Cross and MelindaJ Barbieri, as well as Melbourne City youngster Sofia Sakalis, which speaks to the quality of the team.

Speaking in an official release, Illinois coach Janet Rayfield had the following to say with regards to the freshman. ”A multi-sport athlete who has worn the jersey for her country and has competed in the most competitive arena in Australia, Ashleigh Lefevre brings more international and national understanding to our program. Naturally left-footed, pacy and a two-sided player, Ashleigh adds to our flank defence and our flank attack. Her ability in that two-way 1-v-1 battle on the flank and the aerobic engine to go with it, Ashleigh will be able to contribute to shutouts and to goals.”

Illinois suffered through a difficult season in 2017, winning just five of their 19 games, but with a young team that loses just one regular starter to graduation, the Fighting Illini are set for improvement not only in 2018, but for the next few years as the side gains experience.

Laura Farrelly Signs With Marshall

Central Coast native and Manly United product Laura Farrelly has signed with Marshall University in West Virginia, taking the number of Australians playing in Conference USA to two, alongside Old Dominion’s Gaby Bentley. Farrelly also becomes the second former Manly United player to head to college in recent years, following former Washington State player and 2015 College Matildas Freshman of the Year, Tia Gavin.

An attacking midfielder, Farrelly spent the 2017 season playing in the reserves side for Manly United in NPL New South Wales, featuring in all 18 games for a side that finished sixth in the competition with ten wins and eight losses, narrowly missing out on the finals. Marshall coach Kevin Long has already expressed his happiness at Farrelly’s work ethic and game sense. In an official release, Long stated that “[Laura] is attacking her workouts and brings us a different perspective on the field we were looking for. She will play somewhere in the midfield for us, has already proven to have great vision on the field, dynamic runs in the attacking third and is looking to be dangerous every time she touches the ball.”

Living on the Central Coast of New South Wales and playing for Manly United has made for a lot of travel time for Farrelly whilst progressing through the junior ranks, and ironically, a move to the other side of the world has helped remove that obstacle.

“College was always one of those things which was always there as a possibility in the back of my mind since I was introduced to the idea by one of my friends who began the process,” Farrelly explained. “How I saw it was – college was an opportunity for me to thrive in a competitive soccer environment whilst being so close to campus that my studies weren’t as heavily affected as they would’ve been if I had been studying in Australia, where the commute down and back to training took out 3+ hours of my day which made keeping up with schoolwork and study hard.”
“Being in such a tight knit environment where classes and training are within walking distance meant that I could more efficiently balance my schedule so that I was making the most out of the times when I wasn’t training to get on with some of the work from my courses towards a degree which was being paid for by my soccer.”
With the idea of college set in stone, Farrelly was intent on finding a school that fit, and through an extended process, found Marshall to be the best fit.
“To tell about my personality a little, I am a relatively quiet to myself person who thrives in a family-like environment. I love knowing the majority of the people around me and so a college on the smaller side was always a priority for me if possible,” Farrelly said. “With a smaller college I tended to find the relationship between teammates was even larger than bigger colleges that I had talked to. Throughout the process of talking to coaches to find the right the right fit for me, we met many coaches whose colleges offered a lot in terms of facilities, education, high level soccer and so on, but none quite so much as (Marshall Head Coach) Kevin Long and (Assistant Coach) Erika Duncan had to offer me at Marshall University.”
“Marshall offered me the chance to play soccer at the highest level in a very competitive conference as well as aid financially in paying for an education which would help me in gaining my degree in exercise science. Through the numerous amounts of Skype calls which my parents and I interacted with Marshall, we were able to gain a good feel of the environment I would spend my next 4 years in.”
As well as the coaches, Farrelly was able to get an insight from the players that would become her teammates, opening her eyes to the environment at Marshall.
“I was able to privately talk to some of the girls from the team about dorms, on campus life and any other questions regarding the life of a student-athlete. This helped me to gain a realistic view of what I was getting myself into in terms of an extremely busy schedule of intense training mixed in with my classses. The engagement of both Kevin and Erika throughout the process intensified my feeings towards the college as they took steps beyond expectations to try make me feel comfortable and part of the Herd.”

The Marshall squad will lose two regular midfield players to graduation, including regular starter McKenna Klodrick, who has played almost every minute in the last two seasons, meaning that there will be minutes available in the midfield, but there will be an almighty battle for those now open positions.

Alyssa Van Heurck becomes La Salle’s second Australian

The number of Australians on La Salle’s roster will double in 2018, with Western Australian freshman Alyssa Van Heurck joining sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins at the Explorers. The Football West NTC defender and Perth Glory W-League training partner is the first player from Western Australia to make the move to a Division I college in recent years, with no players from the west having played at that level since College Matildas commenced coverage of Australians in 2014.

“I was always going to go to a local university in Perth but by joining a college in the US I can play soccer at a much higher standard while also studying for my chosen degree,” Van Heurck explained. “Studying in the US gives you exposure to different cultures and ideas and provides you with an opportunity to develop skills critical for future life.”

Van Heurck received offers from a number of colleges in both Division I and Division II, but in the end La Salle provided a balance that appealed to the freshman, with both competition level and playing time proving to be vital factors in her decision.

“When looking at colleges I really wanted to play in the highest division so La Salle being in Division I was a good fit,” Van Heurck revealed. “The opportunity to play at the highest level I possibly can is good but I am really keen to be on the field as much as possible being able to contribute and make a difference. My hometown is very mild with hot summers, so a college on the East Coast with a whole different environment is something I wanted to experience.”

“From meeting the coach (Paul Royal), he is very passionate about the game and I liked what he had in mind for me fitting into the team,” Van Heurck explained. “I have enjoyed watching the team last season I like their direct style of play and how they carry themselves, they seem to be very strong and fit, and out of soccer they seem to get along really well as a team.”

“And I have found since arriving that the coaching staff, teaching staff and team have been very supportive. I was a bit worried starting out but everyone is so helpful with getting me started into college life that I feel like I really fit in already.”

Helping Van Heurck settle in has been fellow Australian, goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins, who will be heading into her sophomore year after spending her freshman year as the backup to La Salle stalwart Larisa Zambelli.

“[Having Claudia on the team] has been fantastic and made the move easier as I had already got in contact with Claudia before leaving on what to expect. It’s also really fun to joke around with her talking to the girls about Australia.”

That will certainly be something to hear more about, but more importantly it will be fascinating to keep track of Van Heurck’s progress with the Explorers in a side that will be attempting to defend their 2017 Atlantic 10 conference title and make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia Rowntree: From Wyoming to the Ivy League

A University of Wyoming goalkeeping stalwart and four-time College Matildas Goalkeeper of the Year, Georgia Rowntree has recently accepted an offer to continue her studies in the form of a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Columbia University in New York. We caught up with the Cowgirls legend to get some insight into her pathway to this point, and also her future plans.

 

Long before the college recruiting process even began for Georgia Rowntree, the goalkeeper was determined to move into physiotherapy or a similar field following her playing days. With a chosen pathway already in mind before leaving for the United States, Rowntree was able to go through the process with a fine-tooth comb before even making a decision regarding whether to go to college or stay in Australia. As Wyoming was the only college program seriously pursuing the goalkeeper, the main point for Rowntree was finding a major that fit her plans for the future.

“I had always planned on going to uni in Australia, and I’d gotten into the Bachelor’s of Physiotherapy program at Sydney Uni, so I knew that that was the area I wanted to go into,” Rowntree explains. “So when I chose my major at Wyoming, I basically looked into what’s the most similar thing I can do, what’s an exercise science major that I can do at Wyoming, and that was kinesiology and health. I looked into what was the best undergraduate degree for me to do that would allow me entry into a physiotherapy program or something like that if I chose to come back home.”

With a plan in mind, Rowntree took advantage of the opportunity to discuss her future pathways with academic staff, both at Wyoming and at the University of Sydney, to ensure that she was headed in the right direction with her future plans. There can often be a risk when Australian students travel to the US to study medically-related fields with regards to satisfying requirements of post-graduate programs in Australia, but Rowntree ensured she had all bases covered regardless of which side of the Pacific her future lay.

“When i was speaking to [Wyoming coach] Pete Cuadrado about being recruited, I definitely asked those questions about [post-graduate study in Australia], and I was able to talk to one of the academic advisors at Wyoming about the best degree to go into, just so I wasn’t left in a degree that sort of meant nothing – not that degrees mean nothing anyway – but just one that would put me on the right path.”

“And I actually made sure that I spoke to someone at Sydney University about that as well, and if I came home if I would be able to get into the same program in Sydney, a Master’s with that degree.”

However, nothing is set in stone, as Rowntree explains with regards to her discussions with Sydney Uni.

“I took a bit of a chance, because I remember Sydney Uni saying, you know, right now you’ll probably be fine with that degree and those subjects that they offer in that degree, but you know, our prerequisites change all the time so you’ll have to double-check. But I was still pretty confident, because you know, the human body’s the human body, how wrong can you go?”

In any event, regardless of her plans, Rowntree’s future was destined to involve post-graduate study due to the structure of the degree that she studied at Wyoming.

“I knew that with my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology, I’d need to follow that up with some kind of graduate school, be that in Australia or the States, so I’d always kind of planned on that,” Rowntree explained.

“The idea of doing grad school in the States was always sort of in the back of my mind, because my major in Wyoming is considered a pre-professional program, so everyone is groomed for applying to different professional programs like physical therapy or occupational therapy.”

“So everyone talks about it there, like ‘this subject is really good for PT (physical therapy) school’ or ‘this subject is really good for OT (occupational therapy) school’, and I was just making sure that I got my prerequisites for Australia done.”

“But when I really started thinking about applying to PT school in the US was after I’d done some observation with physical therapists in the United States, just out of interest, seeing how their jobs differed from physios in Australia.”

“it was being in those environments that really motivated me to apply to PT school in the States.”

Rowntree applied to schools all over the US, from schools in the Pacific Northwest to Louisiana State University, and, of course, Columbia University in New York. But to say that Rowntree was less than optimistic about the Columbia application would be an understatement.

“I applied to seven different schools. Part of it was just – what is a place in the United States that I would like to live? I didn’t really have much idea of where I wanted to go at all, and I mean being from Sydney, the idea of living in New York City isn’t that foreign to me. I applied to places with good reputations, and also nice places to live. I just figured that if I didn’t get into any of those, I could just come home and live in Sydney, so I applied to the seven best schools in the country that I thought would suit me best.”

“Columbia was one that I just sort of threw in there. Of course, everyone knows Columbia, it has that huge international reputation. I never in a million years thought that I would hear back from them, so that was just a shot in the dark. There were schools like the University of Utah in Salt Lake City – which was a team we had played against, and I really liked their facilities when we played there – I thought that would be a really nice school to go to, and more like the level that I thought I’d be on. The fact that Columbia got in touch with me and invited me for an interview, and then on top of that accepted me, that was just a dream come true. That was just an application that I threw in there because it would be fun and thought ‘why not have a shot?’, and it’s turned out well, so that’s basically it!”

With a place in one of the world’s finest universities secured, Rowntree is now set, having moved from a major world city in Sydney to Laramie four years ago, to move from Laramie to the world’s major city in New York. There are many changes coming for the senior, but Rowntree is ready to face them all head-on.

“It’s a huge environment change, but that’s why I’m super-excited. I’ve been living in a small country town, and it’s been a huge experience and taught me a lot, coming from the suburbs of Sydney where there’s 4 million people. I guess I think it’s going to be really awesome to be in a new place. My dad said it’s the centre of the world, so you know, anything can happen there, and I’m just really keen to get to that new place.”

“It’s going to be really tough. PT school you go to class at 8am, then you have an hour for lunch, and you get done at 5pm every day. You spend all your time in your first year in an anatomy lab dissecting a dead body, then going home and studying what you’ve done in lab that day, so it’s going to be crazy-intense, but it’s going to be super-rewarding. I’m sure being at an institution like Columbia, I’m going to be well-taken care of.”

“I’ve just got to get used to living in a small apartment I guess. I mean, I guess I already live in a small apartment, but an even smaller one probably!”

Whilst academia has been one part of Rowntree’s life in Laramie, soccer has obviously played a major part in the goalkeeper’s time in the United States to this point. Juggling the two has been a struggle at times for Rowntree, but in the end the experience has proven to be rewarding.

Soccer vs. San Jose State
Rowntree was all but ever-present between the sticks for Wyoming.

“It’s really tough. When you’re a college soccer player in the US, you do a lot of travelling, it’s honestly the hardest part, having to miss lectures and labs and stuff like that because you’re off playing all over the country,” Rowntree explains.

“But the culture on the Wyoming team is very academically motivated; our team GPA was a 3.5 or something crazy. When we’re away everyone’s doing homework in the lobby or studying, and it makes you manage your time better and become a more professional student because you really have to be on top of all of your stuff.”

“In my freshman year we had a schedule where 14 of our 20 games were away games, so I missed a tonne of school, and that was a huge struggle, especially in my first year of college. You sort of just adapt, communicate with your professors and stuff like that.”

“I honestly think playing soccer made me a better student because there was no time to procrastinate, like I just had to get everything done, ultimately ahead of time. But it’s definitely hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

However, whilst the Cowgirls’ stalwart’s academic career marches forward, we may have seen the last of Georgia Rowntree between the sticks at a competitive level. Rowntree is nonetheless philosophical about her time in the game, choosing instead to focus on what football has delivered to this point in her life.

“I was definitely very fortunate that I was able to play college soccer. I was at a standstill in the Australian system, I’d been on a W-League team for a couple of years but I hadn’t really played, and there were a lot of excellent up-and-coming goalkeepers. And I was playing for Sydney Uni, but I’d been playing first grade since I was 15 or 16, so my career wasn’t going anywhere,” Rowntree reveals in explaining her initial reasons for making the move to college.

“Wyoming was the next big step, and I’d always sort of thought that once i was done at Wyoming I’d come home and try to play in the W-League again and I certainly could do that. I think I’m certainly good enough to do that, but four years of college soccer at 7,000 feet takes its toll on your body, and I’ve got pretty bad tendinitis in my knees and, you know, old people problems with my body. Hitting the ground hundreds of times a day as a goalkeeper takes its toll.”

Rowntree laughs as she says this and it is evident that she is comfortable with her decision to leave the competitive side of the game behind. So, is this a retirement call?

“For the moment, I’d like to say yes, but I’m sure you’ll find me playing rec league soccer in New York somewhere. I think I’m going to miss it too much. I certainly hope to coach somewhere. I’m not going to play competitively again, I don’t think. I’m not good enough to get drafted (to the NWSL), second of all everything hurts when i run,” Rowntree laughs a little once more.

“I have no issues with that, I’ve benefited so much from playing soccer. Ultimately, the game of football has brought me to this place in my life, where I’m about to attend the best university in the world and have this amazing professional career in my future. I love the game of football so much that I don’t think I’ll be able to be disconnected from it for a long time, but I just don’t think I can keep up the competitiveness that I’ve maintained since I was 12 years old.”

“I went to the Wanderers game on New Year’s Day and I was watching young Jada (Jada Whyman, Western Sydney Wanderers W-League goalkeeper) play – she went to school with my sister and is good friends with my sister – and I was thinking that would be so fun, playing before the men’s team, because I just love the Wanderers so much, my whole family are huge Wanderers fans, but then I thought about how much training she’s probably done this week, and I was just like ‘maybe I don’t miss it so much.’”

So, does Rowntree have any parting messages for the next generation of players considering a move to college?

“If anything I guess I’d just like young players to know that if they’re thinking about going to the States, it isn’t only an amazing way to further your playing career but also yourself as a person. A lot of people doubt the value of an American college education but the reality is that it is really an invaluable thing.”

2017 Season Wrap

34 Australians featured on rosters of NCAA Division I programs this season, with 30 of those getting onto the pitch at some point. Some were stars, some were regular starters, and some played roles as impact players off the bench, but all were fascinating to follow throughout the year. In this article, we take a short look at each player’s season.

(Lorena Bugden, Julia De Angelis, Lauren Featherstone, and Tenille Harberger did not feature this season, and as such are not included below.)

Alisha Bass (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 6 goals, 3 assists

Photo Credit: University of Wyoming

A leader for Wyoming from the minute she stepped on the pitch in 2014, Alisha Bass rounded out her college career with yet another outstanding season. Having played just about everywhere except between the sticks in the previous three years, Bass capitalised on the chance to play in her favoured midfield role, tallying six goals for the season, eclipsing the five she tallied in her freshman year. The senior also tallied three assists as her vision and passing ability shone through in spades once again. Unfortunately, the Cowgirls couldn’t quite recover from some personnel losses and injuries throughout the season, narrowly missing the conference tournament for the first and only time in Bass’s career.

Gaby Bentley (Old Dominion)
Team Record: 9-5-4 (Conference USA Tournament Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 17 games, 6 starts, 1 goal

Having featured in just two games in 2016, it was certainly heartening to see Gaby Bentley feature in 17 of Old Dominion’s 18 games this season, and start six times. The midfielder was also able to pick up a goal early in the season, tallying the Monarchs’ single goal in a 3-1 loss to VCU. Draws in conference play perhaps cost Old Dominion a higher spot in the Conference USA standings, and eventually they would fall to Louisiana Tech in the 4th-5th matchup in the conference tournament. With her trajectory clearly on the up, it will be hoped that Bentley can secure a regular starting berth in 2018.

Caitlin Cantrill (LSU)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 6 goals, 3 assists

After enjoying a reasonably solid freshman season in 2016, Caitlin Cantrill unfortunately found playing time hard to come by in 2017, featuring in just three games as LSU missed the SEC Tournament. Without speculating as to the reasons, it is certainly hoped that the Canberra product can garner more minutes in 2018 as she becomes one of the more senior players in the team in a squad that featured 16 freshmen this season.

Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-7-3
Stats: 3 games, 0 starts

Now in her junior year, Annika Clayton once again suffered through injury issues which held her out of the early stages of the season, but played the last 12 games of the season without missing a beat to carve out a highly respectable season. Clayton started on six occasions, playing a commanding role in midfield, and tallied a single goal in the 3-2 loss to New Mexico on Senior Day. With fellow Australian Alisha Bass leaving a gaping hole in midfield following her graduation, Clayton will be one of a number of players expected to step up in 2018 and fill the gap left by the senior.

Maddy Cornell (Southeast Missouri State)
Team Record: 8-6-4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 19 games, 17 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

Given more opportunities to attack in 2017, Maddy Cornell enjoyed a reasonably successful senior season, tallying her first goal since 2016 in the season opening win against Evansville, and following it up with the team’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Mississippi State later in the season. More importantly though, Cornell started 17 of the 19 games in which she featured, a vast improvement on 2017’s three starts in 18 games. Southeast Missouri State made a great run in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament to reach the semi-finals, but fell 1-0 to eventual champions Murray State in a game where the Redhawks held the usually ruthless Murray State attack to just six shots.

Kiri Dale (Hawaii)
Team Record: 6-10-1
Stats: 17 games, 11 starts, 1 assist

A transfer from Iona, Kiri Dale moved to Hawaii looking for a tougher challenge, but the sophomore still managed to play 17 games, the same amount that she played in her freshman year in New York. Dale started the season supremely, coming up with game-winning assist on an opening day overtime win over Utah Valley. Dale would go on to start in 11 of her 17 appearances, and will no doubt be expected to step up to be a leader in 2018 as the Rainbow Wahine lose seven seniors to graduation.

Isobel Dalton (Colorado)
Team Record: 12-6-4 (NCAA Tournament Round of 32)
Stats: 7 games, 0 starts

Playing just seven games in 2017, at times it seemed as if Isobel Dalton was the player one away from being part of the rotation off the bench. The junior came within a couple of inches of registering her first Division I goal after crashing a shot off the crossbar in a 6-0 win over UC Riverside, but will go into her senior year still looking to tally her opening goal. Colorado had another solid season, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina, but the team will no doubt want to push on and reach the Sweet 16 in 2018 after several years of reaching the tournament but falling early.

Nyomi Devine (Murray State)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (OVC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 1 assist

Photo Credit: Dave Winder/Murray State Athletics

A veritable wall at the back for Murray State these past four years, Nyomi Devine once again performed superbly throughout 2017 to help lead the Racers to the NCAA Tournament. The senior helped the Racers keep nine clean sheets throughout the season, but it was an attacking play that may have been Devine’s most important of the season. With the Ohio Valley Conference championship game against Eastern Kentucky finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes, the game moved into golden goal overtime, and it was Devine coming up with the assist on the game winning goal as the Racers atoned for 2016’s surprising tournament loss to win the conference title and secure their passage to the NCAA Tournament before falling to Tennessee in the first round. Devine was rewarded for her play throughout the season with a selection in the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Third Team, a well-deserved honour following yet another outstanding season.

Olivia Ellis (Oregon State)
Team Record: 6-10-3
Stats: 6 games, 0 starts

A former Melbourne City W-League player, Olivia Ellis enjoyed some extended runs in her opening season, playing at least half a game on three occasions. However, those prolonged shifts did not translate into more appearances as the season rolled on, with the freshman featuring in just six games all season. Despite this, Ellis will return to an Oregon State side that loses seven starters to graduation, meaning positions will really open up in 2018, and with the Beavers leaning heavily on their starters last season, the slate is almost clean for both Ellis and the rest of the team coming into next season.

Priya Gakhar (Grambling State)
Team Record: 11-7-2 (SWAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 1 assist

Priya Gakhar came into a Grambling State side that in 2016 had won just one game in a rather sparsely populated 12 game schedule, but that all changed in 2017. Gakhar featured in 18 games, mostly in short cameos off the bench, and tallied an assist in a 3-3 draw with Prairie View A&M as Grambling won 11 games in a 20-game schedule more befitting a Division I team. The Tigers eventually reached the SWAC Tournament semi-finals, falling to eventual champions Alabama State in a penalty shootout. With only one season remaining in her college career, Gakhar will surely want to turn those cameos into more prolonged stints on the field in each game.

Jessie Gentle (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 18 games, 5 starts, 2 assists

An impact player off the bench over the last two seasons, Jessie Gentle once again performed admirably for Wyoming, playing in 18 games but starting just five. Although the junior tallied just two assists over the course of the season, Gentle’s play far surpassed what can be gleaned from the box score. Gentle unfortunately missed the final game of the season after a freak injury after colliding with a corner post in the team’s final home game, but nonetheless put together a third solid season on a personal level to set herself up for an outstanding senior year as Wyoming look to return to the Mountain West Conference tournament after narrowly missing out in 2017.

Beattie Goad (Stanford)
Team Record: 24-1 (Pac-12 Champions, NCAA Champions)
Stats: 19 games, 5 starts, 1 goal, 1 assist

Things couldn’t have gone much better for Beattie Goad and Stanford in 2017 as the Cardinal lost just one game all season as they stormed home to a national championship after a 3-2 win in a blockbuster of a title game against UCLA. For Goad herself, it was a year of slotting in where required off the bench, starting in just five of her 19 appearances but featuring in a variety of positions as her versatility shone through, and picking up a goal and an assist in the course of her time on the pitch. Although Stanford will lose US national team player Andi Sullivan to graduation, the midfielder is the only regular starter from 2017 that will need to be replaced, and as such things are looking good for the Cardinal in 2018 as they look to defend their tile.

Paige Hayward (Texas Southern)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (SWAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 16 games, 16 starts, 9 goals, 2 assists

Paige Hayward was once again the leader of Texas Southern’s front line, contributing goals regularly as the Tigers once again fell agonisingly short of reaching the NCAA Tournament following a shootout loss to eventual champions Alabama State in the SWAC tournament semi-finals. The senior finished the season with 9 goals to round out her career with 25 goals, and chipped in two assists in her final season of collegiate play as the Tigers finished the season with a solid 6-3-1 conference record before the unfortunate shootout loss.

Emma Heckenberg (Drexel)
Team Record: 11-7-1 (CAA Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 13 games, 11 starts, 2 assists

After playing 19 games in 2016, Emma Heckenberg played in just 13 games this season, but with 11 of those games coming consecutively to finish the season, it was clear that once the junior found her role in the team, she excelled. Shifted between defence and midfield, those freshman days of playing up front are now well and truly behind Heckenberg as she settles into a deeper role, although the junior was able to tally two assists this year. Drexel enjoyed a solid regular season to finish second in the CAA, but unfortunately their conference tournament campaign ended in the first round at the hands of the always dangerous Northeastern.

Kristy Helmers (Nicholls State)
Team Record: 6-11-1
Stats: 18 games, 13 starts, 3 goals, 1 assist

Kristy Helmers’ goal output was slightly down this year, perhaps a function of the loss of fellow Australian Jess Coates from the midfield and the lack of the element of surprise that existed in her freshman year. However, the sophomore was still able to tally three goals and register an assist in her 18 appearances, of which 13 were starts as Nicholls State finished with six wins from 18 games. With six of 16 of the Colonels’ goals coming from seniors this year, both Helmers and the rest of the attack will have to bang home the goals with far more regularity, but Helmers has proven that if she is given the service, she can certainly put the ball in the back of the net.

Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
Team Record: 6-13-2 (WAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 14 games, 0 starts, 1 assist

Photo Credit: Michael Rincon

An occasional presence for Grand Canyon in her freshman season, Sandra Hill featured in 14 games in 2017 in what was a tough season for the Lopes, who won just six of their 21 games. However, in a team with 10 freshmen on the roster, the signs are promising not only for Hill, but for the team as seven of those freshmen reached double figures for appearances. Hill also tallied a single assist, setting up one of Grand Canyon’s seven goals in a demolition of Chicago State.

Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)
Team Record: 6-13
Stats: 16 games, 15 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

It was a tough season to say the least for Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State, falling from a 13-6-2 season in 2016 to 6-13 in 2017. However, Hodgson continued to be an ever-present fixture in the lineup, save for one match missed with a minor ankle injury, showing herself to be one of the true leaders of the side going forward. The junior also tallied two goals and a single assist, well down on her five goals and nine assists, but the team scored just 22 in comparison to their 47 goals in 2016. However, there are still plenty of pieces there for the team to put together a winning season in 2018.

Jemma House (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 11 starts

A goalscoring extraordinaire in her two years at nearby Laramie County Community College, Jemma House was used in a slightly different role out wide in her first season at Wyoming. Despite featuring in every game for Wyoming this season, it took a while for House to adapt to Division I soccer before coming into her own and eventually becoming an integral part of the Wyoming roster, starting 11 games. The junior also picked up her first two Division I goals early in the season, before adding two assists as the season rolled on. The Cowgirls will lose five starters – albeit one of those is goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree – from this season’s team in 2018, so House will no doubt be expected to be one of the team’s leaders next season.

Emily Hulbert (Hofstra)
Team Record: 15-4-2 (CAA Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 18 games, 16 starts, 1 goal, 2 assists

Injuries had been a common theme throughout Emily Hulbert’s career, but 2017 saw the Hofstra senior put most of that to one side to play a commanding role in midfield throughout the season as the Pride dominated conference play, finishing with a perfect record to secure the CAA title and reach the NCAA Tournament. The former Melbourne Victory player tallied a goal and two assists for the season, but it was her work shielding the back four and launching attacks from deep that were of paramount importance as the senior featured in 18 games in her final season after injury had limited her to just nine in her junior year.

Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Team Record: 15-4-2 (CAA Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 21 games, 20 starts, 6 assists

Photo Credit: Jonathan Heisler/Hofstra Athletic Communications

Whilst Emily Hulbert was excellent in midfield for Hofstra, Monique Iannella was outstanding at right back for the Pride, both in attack and defence. Following a transfer from Texas, Iannella slotted straight into a Hofstra defence that dominated opponents throughout the season to finish with 11 clean sheets. Iannella was also a threat from set pieces, taking the majority of corners and finishing with six assists for the season, the most by any Australian in 2017. The junior also took a mind-boggling 25 corners in one game against James Madison, finishing with two assists in that game.

Claudia Jenkins (La Salle)
Team Record: 17-4-2 (A10 Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 4 games, 0 starts

Despite being second in the goalkeeping pecking order behind stalwart Larissa Zambelli, Claudia Jenkins was afforded a couple of opportunities in her freshman season, experience that could prove vital as the South Australian looks to make the starting spot her own in 2018. Jenkins made four appearances in her freshman season, coming on either when the game was already secure or after Zambelli took a knock, playing 65 minutes and only being required to make two saves. Jenkins did however pick up a conference title in her freshman season as La Salle defeated VCU 1-0 in overtime in the Atlantic 10 title game.

Demi Koulizakis (Texas Tech)
Team Record: 9-7-3 (Big 12 Tournament Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 10 games, 0 starts

Having featured in 18 games in her freshman season, it was hoped that Demi Koulizakis would be able to increase her minutes in 2017, but it was not to be as the sophomore featured in just 10 games in 2017. Koulizakis was afforded just 114 minutes of playing time, hardly enough for the Sydneysider to showcase her talents as she averaged just 11 minutes of playing time. The Red Raiders finished the season 9-7-3, missing the NCAA Tournament after falling to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.

Teagan Micah (UCLA)
Team Record: 19-3-3 (NCAA Runner-Up)
Stats: 25 games, 24 starts, 9 clean sheets

Photo Credit: Rand Bleimeister

A near enough to ever-present fixture in a UCLA lineup that reached the NCAA Tournament final before falling 3-2 to Stanford in a blockbuster of a game, Teagan Micah enjoyed a second consecutive outstanding season between the sticks for the Bruins. Ranking in the top 50 in the nation for goals against average and clean sheets, Micah enjoyed the help of a solid defence, but still put in a number of outstanding efforts to tally nine shutouts for the season and concede just 19 goals. The sophomore also came up with the decisive save in the NCAA College Cup semi-final shootout against Duke which allowed Marley Canales to step up and secure UCLA’s passage to the final.

Shelby Milton (St. Francis)
Team Record: 10-8-3 (NEC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 6 games, 2 starts

Shelby Milton featured in 19 games for St. Francis in 2016, but somehow her opportunities were restricted in 2017, making just six appearances for a Red Flash team that reached the NCAA Tournament after defeating Sam Roff and Fairleigh Dickinson on penalties in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game. Milton played the full 90 minutes in St. Francis’ 3-0 win over Radford, holding the Highlanders to just 3 shots all game, but that remained her only complete game appearance for the season. Fortunately, Milton has two more seasons in Pennsylvania to regain her position as an integral part of the team.

Ellie Papalexiou (Pacific)
Team Record: 5-13-2
Stats: 4 games, 0 starts

Frustrated by yet another knee injury, Ellie Papalexiou was restricted to just four appearances in her senior year after not being cleared to return until midway through the season. However, whilst on the pitch, her class was visible even when playing in an unfamiliar role in the centre of midfield, even if results weren’t always the best for a Pacific program still looking to find its feet having returned to the elite West Coast Conference in 2013 after several years in the Big West. Although she played just 28 games in her time at college due to injury, there is no doubting that Papalexiou has more than enough ability to have made a significant impact on this Pacific side, as shown in her 17 appearances in her freshman year in 2014.

Sam Roff (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Team Record: 9-8-4 (NEC Runner-Up)
Stats: 21 games, 21 starts

One of the stars of the Northeast Conference, Sam Roff was the undoubted rock at the back for Fairleigh Dickinson, earning herself an All-Conference First Team selection for her outstanding performances in defence. Whilst the sophomore wasn’t able to snag her first goal or assist, her efforts in her role as a defender were vital in Fairleigh Dickinson’s run to the Northeast Conference title game, where the Knights went down in a penalty shootout to Shelby Milton and Saint Francis after the game finished 0-0 following two periods of extra time.

Georgia Rowntree (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 4 clean sheets

Photo Credit: University of Wyoming

A saviour at times for Wyoming, Georgia Rowntree often found herself needing to make more than her share of saves to keep the Cowgirls in games, with her save percentage of 76% far more representative of her ability than her clean sheet count of four for the season. The senior played all bar 72 minutes of the season, forming an almost ever-present force between the sticks, but unfortunately the Cowgirls couldn’t quite reach the Mountain West Conference tournament, with a final day win over rivals Colorado State not quite enough to secure a top six spot. Nonetheless, Rowntree carved out an exceptional career at Wyoming, with the Sydneysider leaving some rather large shoes to fill in Laramie.

Kate Swartwout (Western Carolina)
Team Record: 9-10-2 (Southern Conference Runner-Up)
Stats: 17 games, 6 starts, 1 assist

After making 11 starts last season, appearances in the first eleven were a little harder to come by for Kate Swartwout in 2017, featuring only six times in the starting lineup. However, Swartwout did make 17 appearances, one more than the 16 she made in 2016. Swartwout also chalked up a single assist despite being known more as a defender, setting up the equaliser in a 3-2 win over Kennesaw State. With a relatively young team that fell agonisingly short of the NCAA Tournament in 2017 following a Southern Conference championship game loss to UNC Greensboro, things are certainly looking up for both Swartwout and Western Carolina.

Claire Urquhart (Albany)
Team Record: 6-11-1
Stats: 12 games, 8 starts

After reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2016, 2017 was a bit more of a rebuilding year for Albany, who finished with a 6-11-1 record, but for Claire Urquhart, it represented a vastly increased opportunity to play under new coach Nick Bochette. After featuring in just seven games across her first two seasons, the junior started in 8 of her 12 appearances, ably filling a defensive role at various times throughout the season.

Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (OVC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 12 goals, 2 assists

Photo Credit: Dave Winder/Murray State Athletics

As has been the case throughout Harriet Withers’ career, the senior once again banged home goals seemingly for fun at times as Murray State reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years before falling 2-0 to Tennessee in the first round. Withers tallied 12 goals in 2017, good enough for 30th in the nation, whilst her six game winning goals were good enough for eighth. The senior also led all players in shots on target per game, averaging nearly three per game, which represented just over half of her total shots. Withers was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First Team following yet another outstanding season, as well as picking up the #1 spot in Top Drawer Soccer’s Ohio Valley Conference Top 20 players.

End Of Season Awards:

Freshman of the Year: Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
Sophomore of the Year: Teagan Micah (UCLA) and Kristy Helmers (Nicholls State)
Junior of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Senior of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Georgia Rowntree (Wyoming)
Defender of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Midfielder of the Year: Alisha Bass (Wyoming)
Forward of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Breakout Player of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Most Consistent Player: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Top Goalscorer: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Most Assists: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
2017 College Matildas Player of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)

2017 NCAA Tournament Wrap

We started the NCAA Tournament with nine Australians across seven teams in contention for the national championship. The majority fell by the wayside, but spectacularly, we reached the national championship game with the guarantee that one Aussie – either Teagan Micah at UCLA or Stanford’s Beattie Goad – would be a national championship by mid-afternoon. In the end, it was Goad and the Cardinal who secured the title with a 3-2 victory in a pulsating game between two highly exciting and skilful teams. In this wrap, we recap all 18 games featuring Australians, chronicling the journey to the second Australian national champion in as many seasons.

Jump to a round with the links below:

First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game

First Round

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella) lost 1-0 to Auburn

Despite being the higher team in the RPI rankings, Hofstra were forced to travel to Auburn for their first round game. In a tight game which saw Auburn outshoot Hofstra 14-12, it was a Bri Folds strike from the edge of the area in the 64th minute that proved to be the difference as Auburn ran out 1-0 winners. Both Monique Iannella and Emily Hulbert played the full 90 minutes, with Hulbert registering a single shot on target in what turned out to be her final college game.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins) lost 3-1 to Rutgers

Despite the short distance between Philadelphia and Piscataway, La Salle’s matchup with nationally ranked Rutgers was always going to be a tough fixture for the Explorers. Despite being outshot 9-0 in the first half, La Salle managed to go in at halftime level at 0-0. Goals for Rutgers in the 52nd and 56th minutes looked to have set La Salle back on their heels, but a 65th minute goal from Madison Bower trimmed the margin until Rutgers restored their two-goal advantage with 10 minutes to play as the game finished 3-1 in the Scarlet Knights’ favour. Claudia Jenkins did not feature in this game, as senior Larisa Zambelli played the full 90 minutes between the sticks.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers) lost 2-0 to Tennessee

In what was seen as a game between two evenly matched teams, Murray State held firm for the first hour of the contest before Tennessee managed to secure the win courtesy of two quick goals.  The Volunteers’ first goal came seconds shy of the hour mark through Danielle Marcano, before Erin Gilroy, who had set up Marcano’s goal, scored one of her own just four minutes later to completely shift the momentum of the contest in quick time. Harriet Withers finished with five shots, of which three were on target, but couldn’t manage a goal in her final college game as Tennessee goalkeeper Shae Yanez stood firm. Nyomi Devine played the full 90 minutes yet again as the defender’s endurance shone through yet again.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton) lost 2-0 to Virginia

St. Francis were destined to be up against it in their game against nationally ranked Virginia, and given the disparity in shots between the two sides, 2-0 was perhaps a scoreline respective of a solid rearguard effort from the Red Flash despite the loss. Virginia finished with 33 shots, but only seven of those ended up on target as the Cavaliers found goals hard to come by at times. A 23rd minute strike from Veronica Latsko opened the scoring after teammate Taylor Ziemer’s shot was deflected into her path, before Taryn Torres doubled the lead ten minutes after halftime. With just three shots all game, a comeback from St. Francis was always unlikely, and the game ended 2-0 in Virginia’s favour. St. Francis utilised just four substitutes all game, with Shelby Milton unfortunately not being one of those employed in this contest.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton) defeated Denver 2-1

Having defeated Denver 6-1 earlier in the season, Colorado had every reason to feel confident about advancing through to the second round, but the Pioneers had other ideas. A 38th minute goal for Leah Swander put Denver 1-0 up, setting Colorado on their heels slightly late in the first half. However, the Buffaloes regrouped to turn things around right out of the blocks after halftime. A 50th minute goal from Megan Massey was followed just two minutes later by a strike from Taylor Kornieck to give Colorado a 2-1 lead, with the home side managing to secure victory by that scoreline. Isobel Dalton did not feature for Colorado in this first round matchup.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated San Diego State 3-1

UCLA defeated San Diego State 5-1 earlier in the season, and a similar result in this game would have barely raised an eyebrow in the world of college soccer. However, San Diego State produced a far better performance and remained in the contest until the dying stages. Goals to Anika Rodriguez in the 16th minute and Julia Hernandez nine minutes after halftime put UCLA up 2-0 and seemingly in command, but San Diego State replied through Mia Root just after the hour mark to leave the game in the balance at 2-1 in the Bruins’ favour with 27 minutes to play. Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah made five saves to maintain UCLA’s lead, and MacKenzie Cerda secured the Bruins’ passage through to the second round with a goal five minutes from time as the home side ran out 3-1 victors.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Utah Valley 9-1

In what was always likely to be a blowout win for Stanford, the Cardinal certainly took that notion to the extreme with a 9-1 demolition of Utah Valley. Stanford went up 2-0 early in the piece courtesy of a pair of errors from the Wolverines’ goalkeeper as Madison Haley and Civana Kuhlmann capitalised. Utah Valley pulled one back in the 17th minute from a corner, but three goals in four minutes either side of the half-hour mark from Jaye Boissiere, Tierna Davidson, and Catarina Macario put the game to bed before halftime. Belle Briede added another before halftime, before three second-half goals, including two to Sam Tran, completed the rout. Beattie Goad came off the bench to play 36 minutes and was unlucky to not have an assist as teammates’ shots went agonisingly wide on a couple of occasions.

Second Round

Colorado (Isobel Dalton) lost 1-0 to North Carolina

As in 2014, Colorado found themselves up against North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and once again a sterling defensive effort gave the Buffaloes every chance of victory. However, in this case it was an early goal for North Carolina, rather than an overtime winner, that sealed Colorado’s fate as Brigitte Andrzejewski tallied the game’s only goal in the 26th minute. Colorado had more than a few chances, finishing with 11 shots to North Carolina’s 19, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Isobel Dalton unfortunately did not feature in the loss as coach Danny Sanchez kept the rotation short.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Northwestern 1-0 (OT)

Glacing at the box score, and seeing that UCLA finished with 13 shots on target to Northwestern’s 1, you may be forgiven for wondering how the Bruins could possibly have required extra time to finish this one. However, the side from Westwood faced an inspired performance from Northwestern goalkeeper Lauren Clem, who came up with 12 saves, many of them high quality, to keep the Wildcats in the game despite an almost complete absence of meaningful attacks from her team. However, early in extra time, Ashley Sanchez bisected the Northwestern defence with a sublime pass which found Anika Rodriguez, who buried the one-on-one chance to send the Drake Stadium crowd into raptures. Teagan Micah played all 92 minutes, finishing with the clean sheet after making the only save that she was forced into all night.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Auburn 2-0

Auburn may have knocked out a pair of Australians in Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella with their win over Hofstra in the first round, but there was no getting past Beattie Goad and Stanford in the second round. The Tigers held on until halftime, keeping the Cardinal out, but the second half saw Stanford run over the top of the visitors. Kyra Carusa scored the opener in the 58th minute, and when Catarina Macario doubled the lead 9 minutes later, the game was firmly in Stanford’s control. With Auburn only managing three shots all game, victory was all but assured for Stanford once the second goal went in, and it came to pass as such. Beattie Goad enjoyed a stint off the bench with the game still in the balance, registering two shots in 26 minutes of playing time.

Sweet Sixteen

UCLA defeated Virginia 2-1

In what was one of the most confusing matches of the season in terms of the teams playing compared with how the game played out, UCLA emerged victorious with an 89th minute winner to move into the Elite Eight. Virginia opened the scoring via an own goal in the sixth minute, with UCLA defender Karina Rodriguez heading a Cavaliers free kick into her own net with Teagan Micah left stranded. UCLA equalised a mere 35 seconds later, with Jessie Fleming converting a penalty after Ashley Sanchez was brought down in the box by Megan Reid, who received a yellow card. With two potent attacking lineups, and two goals inside the first six minutes, a deluge of goals seemed almost inevitable, but somehow the teams combined for just 11 shots on target all game, eight of which came from UCLA. The tide shifted monumentally late in regulation, as Virginia defender Courtney Petersen received a second yellow card after a slightly cynical foul deep in UCLA attacking territory. With the game seemingly destined to head into extra time, Sanchez cut open the Virginia defence, which was now a player short, for Rodriguez to finish in a similar fashion to her winner against Northwestern. Teagan Micah again played the entire game, finishing with two saves.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Florida State 1-0

Florida State may not have been the powerhouse this season that they have been in recent years, but the Seminoles know exactly what November soccer is all about, and their rearguard defence gave Stanford plenty to think about. Stanford had plenty of chances, taking 22 shots, but with only eight on target, were unable to find the back of the net until Tierna Davidson took things into her own hands with 12 minutes remaining. Picking the ball up in the back line, Davidson drove into the midfield, and with no Seminoles player shutting her down, simply continued on her run, taking on several defenders before finding Jordan DiBiasi in the area, who lashed the ball home for the game’s only goal. Once again, Stanford limited their opponents’ opportunities throughout, allowing the Seminoles just one shot on target. Unfortunately, despite enjoying decent playing time in the first two rounds, Beattie Goad’s services were not required for this game.

Elite Eight

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Princeton 3-1

UCLA faced a dangerous Princeton side which had already knocked off #1 seed North Carolina, but the Bruins soon took control of the game with an early goal to Hailie Mace courtesy of a well-placed header in the 16th minute. A second goal followed just two minutes later as some spectacular interplay on the right-hand side saw Zoey Goralski and Anika Rodriguez combine to set up Olivia Athens, who slotted the ball home from close range. The score remained 2-0 until halftime, but Princeton pulled one back shortly after halftime as Abby Givens was played through and finished the one-on-one chance despite the best efforts of Teagan Micah, who did well to close down the angle but couldn’t prevent the goal. However, Mace re-established the Bruins’ two goal cushion on the hour mark, rounding the goalkeeper and knocking the ball into the empty net for the game’s final goal as UCLA ran out 3-1 winners. Teagan Micah was again between the sticks for the full 90 minutes, making 3 saves.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Penn State 4-0

This match against Penn State shaped to be Stanford’s biggest test thus far, but the Cardinal put paid to that with a first half onslaught that rendered the game over as a contest by halftime. Giving up a free kick in scoring position with Catarina Macario on the pitch is not generally a good strategy, but that’s what Penn State were forced into doing just 90 seconds in, and the Brazilian-born forward curled the resulting set piece home for an early Cardinal lead. Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahanzous kept the game at 1-0 with a spectacular tip over the bar in the 8th minute, before Andi Sullivan doubled the lead just after the 10 minute mark with a superbly positioned strike into the bottom right corner. Jaye Boissiere nestled one into the bottom left corner just 88 seconds later, whilst Kyra Carusa added a fourth in the 25th minute, slotting home a Macario through ball, and the result was in the bag before Beattie Goad could even get on the pitch. Goad played a few minutes in the back end of the first half before enjoying a more extended stint on the pitch in the second half to play 29 minutes as Stanford cruised to the win.

Final Four

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated South Carolina 2-0

A first-half blitzkrieg from Stanford was enough to secure their passage into the national championship game. Tegan McGrady’s free kick was met by a deft header from Jordan DiBiasi to give the Cardinal a lead in the 10th minute, and with the Stanford defence holding South Carolina’s attack at bay throughout much of the first half, DiBiasi’s second goal of the game in the 26th minute gave the top-ranked Cardinal a comfortable 2-0 advantage. Although Stanford were unable to add to their lead throughout the rest of the contest, South Carolina managed just one shot on target for the entire game, meaning that the lead was rarely in danger. Beattie Goad was used sparingly, coming on in the back end of the first half to afford starter Kyra Carusa an extended halftime break.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Duke 4-3 on penalties (0-0 after extra time)

Teagan Micah was one of the heroes for UCLA in their semi-final shootout victory against Duke, making the decisive save as the Bruins advanced to the national championship game. Both teams were hampered slightly by an inability to get the ball on target throughout the contest, with just one of UCLA’s 15 shots being on goal, whilst Duke could only manage to get a marginally better 3 of their 10 attempts on target. UCLA did have a couple of shots blocked late in the first half of extra time, but with few shots in the second period, goals became more and more unlikely and eventually the teams moved to one end of the pitch for a shootout. Malinda Allen missed Duke’s second penalty to give UCLA an early advantage, but MacKenzie Cerda’s penalty for UCLA was saved to leave the shootout tied at 2-2 after three shots. Each team converted their fourth, but Teagan Micah came up with the save as Duke’s Kat McDonald attempted to place the ball down the middle. Freshman Marley Canales slotted UCLA’s fifth penalty, clinching the win and sending the Bruins into raptures.

National Championship Game

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated UCLA (Teagan Micah) 3-2

As in their semi-final, Stanford came out firing to score two early goals to command control of the national championship game in the first half. Kyra Carusa opened the scoring for the Cardinal in the 15th minute as Teagan Micah misjudged an awkwardly spinning deflected cross, leaving the Stanford forward wide open to smash the ball past the UCLA defenders valiantly attempting to get a block in on the line. Micah could hardly be faulted for Stanford’s second goal though. Catarina Macario played Andi Sullivan through with an incisive through ball, and the US national team midfielder slotted the one-on-one chance to double the Stanford lead. Stanford retained the lead until halftime despite penalty shouts to both sides being waved away by the referee and numerous chances for the Bruins as the first half came to a close.

However, 9 minutes into the second half, Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz brought down UCLA fifth-year senior Zoey Goralski in the box and the referee had absolutely no choice but to point to the spot. Canadian national team midfielder Jessie Fleming stepped up, despite not taking a penalty in the Bruins’ semi-final shootout victory, and although Jahansouz got a hand to the shot, the ball nestled in the side netting to cut Stanford’s lead in half. Four minutes later, Delanie Sheehan found the equaliser as a UCLA corner was flicked on at the near post, finding Sheehan at the back stick, who managed to outjump her defender and find the back of the net.

In a game with five goals, the best was certainly saved for last. Receiving a pass from  Macario, Stanford redshirt sophomore Jaye Boissiere found a bit of space about 25 yards from goal, and hit a sublime curling shot which left Micah with no chance as the Cardinal retook the lead which they had let slip just 8 minutes earlier, and also delivered Macario a third assist for the game. Tegan McGrady almost followed up four minutes later with an absolute cannon of a shot that may have exited Earth’s orbit if it hadn’t hit the post and rebounded back out. UCLA had a couple of chances late on, with MacKenzie Cerda forcing a save from Jahansouz, but Stanford managed to hold onto their lead for the final 24 minutes to secure the program’s second national title and move one ahead of UCLA in terms of all-time national championships across all sports with their 114th – although UCLA would secure their own 114th national championship just five hours later with a victory in the men’s water polo championship.

For the champions, Beattie Goad came on briefly in the first half, coming on for Kyra Carusa for the last 8 minutes of the opening period. Teagan Micah played the full 90 minutes, making seven saves including a couple that kept UCLA in the contest late in the first half. Goad becomes the second Australian in consecutive seasons to win a national championship, following Lucinda Pullar’s victory with USC last season.