With 10 freshmen joining NCAA Division I women’s soccer this season, there is certainly a plethora of new talent ready to make their mark in the US in 2016. Today, College Matildas takes a look at the top 5, based both on ability and potential impact in their first season.
5. Caitlin Cantrill (Midfielder, LSU, Canberra)
The only member of our Top 5 Freshmen to not have played in the W-League, Caitlin nonetheless parlayed her talents into a spot with a power conference school. LSU may be more famous in Australian circles for top NBA draft pick Ben Simmons, but Caitlin has all the tools to make her own impact in Baton Rouge.
One person who has plenty of experience playing alongside Caitlin is fellow freshman, Indiana midfielder and W-League champion Julia De Angelis, who was a member of the ACT Academy of Sport soccer program alongside Caitlin.
“What’s always stood out for me with Caitlin is her work ethic. She’s a player who will constantly work hard and give her all throughout the game,” De Angelis explained. “She’s fast, agile, creative on the ball, and can hit a good shot. She’s a leader on and off the field, and I always enjoyed playing beside her at ACTAS.”
4. Teagan Micah (Goalkeeper, UCLA, Brisbane)
A product of the Goalkeeping Australia Academy and a Young Matilda, Teagan is a player on the rise. Joining the Western Sydney Wanderers from Brisbane Roar, Micah established herself early as first choice keeper displaying confidence in commanding the back line and providing a creative outlet through clever distribution. Micah’s technical ability paired with her willingness to put her body on the line make her an asset to any team.
Colorado sophomore Isobel Dalton played alongside Teagan at both club and international level, and has seen the goalkeeper go from strength to strength over the last few seasons.
“I’d say Teagan is definitely a young player with a lot of potential. She has extended amounts of experience at different levels of the game. She’s competed for Australia in crucial matches and been a huge part of all our successes throughout Under 17s and then again when she went on to Young Matildas,” Dalton revealed.
“I think Teagan’s determination an mindset plays a big role in how she has coped through her younger playing career and it will definitely transfer into college. Alongside her athletics, her academics are unbelievable so she has definitely found the right school to continue her education and soccer.”
“I think overall Teagan will play a huge role at UCLA based on her drive to become a better player. Most coaches will see she already has the basis down pat so she will no doubt go on to bigger and better things later down the track.”
Whilst this season may see Teagan playing a backup role to UCLA’s Norwegian starter Siri Ervik, the Queenslander is obviously more than capable of stepping in where required in her first season in college in her quest to set herself up to become the starting goalkeeper in coming seasons.
3. Demi Koulizakis (Midfielder, Texas Tech, Sydney)
A Young Matildas representative, Demi is the ultimate squad player. Dedicated to her team and teammates, Koulizakis has earned her stripes with the Western Sydney Wanderers growing into her role as a reliable utility and diverse midfielder. Despite her goal scoring ability, Koulizakis has asserted herself mainly within the defensive back line, slotting in to provide stability and width wherever necessary.
Canadian international and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Carmelina Moscato played alongside Koulizakis at Western Sydney Wanderers in 2015/16 and has only good things to say about her former teammate.
“Demi is a tenacious player and one who leaves it all on the pitch. Having played with her, she is a versatile player and can adapt to whatever to game is throwing at her,” Moscato explained.
“She’s a hard worker and competitor. I’m looking forward to following her collegiate journey.”
Despite splitting her time between defence and attack in the W-League, Texas Tech coach Tom Stone has already indicated that Demi will be employed in attack for the majority of her time with the team.
“Demi is a dynamic dribbler and passer and obviously can score,” Stone explained on National Signing Day. “We are excited to bring Demi out here and we can’t wait to see what sort of player we can help her become. I think she has aspirations well beyond college and we are excited to help her achieve those goals. Her time in the international arena will help her transition to college soccer.”
2. Beattie Goad (Midfielder, Stanford, Melbourne)
As a regular starter in Melbourne City’s undefeated W-League championship winning side in 2015/16, Beattie had already established herself as one of the competition’s more well-known names, but the opportunity to attend Stanford doesn’t come around for just anyone, and Beattie grabbed the chance with both hands. Beattie has earned over 30 W-League appearances across three seasons for both Melbourne clubs, making her debut at age 16 and already collecting two W-League championships, with Victory in 2013/14 and last season with City.
Stanford’s squad is amongst the best in college soccer this season, but Beattie has already proven herself at W-League level and it should only be a matter of time before she proves her worth in Palo Alto.
Few people know Melbourne women’s football as well as The Women’s Game contributing editor Cheryl Downes, who has watched Beattie since her W-League debut. “Really hard worker is what the coaches say and even just in the past year I have personally seen so much development in her game,” Cheryl revealed. “She has deceptive pace, but her aerial game needs work though.”
Whatever improvements Beattie needs to make in her game to progress to the next level, Stanford is an outstanding environment in which to work on those areas as the young winger looks to make an impact at the highest level of college soccer.
Pre-Season Freshman of the Year: Julia De Angelis (Midfielder, Indiana, Canberra)
It was not an easy decision to put one of these extremely talented players above the rest, but in a rebuilding Indiana program, Julia De Angelis will almost certainly be given plenty of opportunities to make an impact from the outset for the Hoosiers.
A W-League champion with over 20 appearances to her name, De Angelis is one of the most experienced players in this year’s freshman class. Primarily playing deep in midfield, Julia’s time at Canberra United has seen her mentored by some top class players, including US National Team players Lori Lindsey and Kendall Fletcher and Matildas stalwart Caitlin Munoz.
Canberra United coach Raeanne Dower has worked with Julia for several years, and tabbed the midfielder as a potential star even at the tender age of 17.
“She understands her role; defensive midfield isn’t the prettiest position in football, but she is prepared to do that for the team,” Dower revealed in speaking with The Football Sack in 2014. “She is a real fighter, she wins tackles she shouldn’t win and against players much bigger than herself.”
Indiana’s defence varied wildly throughout last season, keeping six clean sheets but giving up three or more goals on five occasions in 19 games as the Hoosiers tallied only three wins in 2015. De Angelis’ presence in midfield may just be the thing Indiana need to tighten up that occasionally leaky defence and turn some losses into draws and draws into wins.
Many thanks to Cassandra Cocciolone from The Women’s Game who assisted with insight on Teagan Micah and Demi Koulizakis, as well as Julia De Angelis, Carmelina Moscato, Isobel Dalton, and Cheryl Downes for their insight on players.