UMBC’s Australian head coach Vanessa Mann has laid the foundations for a pipeline from her homeland to Baltimore with the announcement of the signing of two Australian players as part of her first recruiting class since taking over as head coach in August 2018. New South Wales pair Abi Jordan and Teal Kilbride have each inked National Letters of Intent with the program and will link up with the team in preparation for the upcoming season.
A defender out of Wollongong, Jordan made her NPL first team debut with Illawarra Stingrays in 2015 before becoming a regular member of the side in 2016 to compile 50 appearances for a team that never finished lower than fifth in her four seasons in the squad. Jordan also travelled to the United States with an Australian Schoolgirls side that featured players with W-League experience including Eliza Ammendolia and Shadeene Evans, as well as Wyoming sophomore duo Caitlin Pickett and Indianna Asimus, with the team bringing home the SoCal Winter Cup in the process. Jordan has also tasted success on the domestic front, picking up a national School Sport championship in 2018 as well as an Futsal Premier League 2 title earlier this season with South Coast Taipans.
“I selected UMBC because of the welcoming staff, great facilities and high education standard. I also liked the idea of attending a slightly smaller university which is more close knit.”
— UMBC Women's Soccer (@UMBC_WSoccer) June 11, 2019
Like Jordan, Kilbride is also a defender with NPL experience, having made 9 appearances for the North West Sydney Koalas first team in 2018 after serving her apprenticeship in the reserves side between 2014 and 2017, playing in two reserves grand finals in 2016 and 2017. Kilbride also featured alongside fellow newcomer Jordan in the 2018 Australian Schoolgirls side that won the SoCal Cup.
“I chose UMBC because of the exceptional staff, facilities and high academic standards.”
— UMBC Women's Soccer (@UMBC_WSoccer) June 20, 2019
The Australian duo form part of a class of ten freshmen that will be entrusted with helping UMBC return to winning ways, with the Retrievers having not won more than six games in a season since compiling a 12-4-3 record in 2014, one of just two winning seasons since the program moved to the America East conference in 2004. Ironically, that 2014 season was the last season in which an Australian featured for UMBC, with South Australian Lilly Rydon proving crucial for the Retrievers as they reached the NCAA Tournament in 2013 before producing another solid season in 2014.
Jordan and Kilbride could prove especially crucial for the Retrievers, with a roster that was slightly short on defenders sitting in the bottom 20 in the nation in 2018, shipping 2.756 goals per game. The attack will still need to produce at better than last season’s 0.88 goals per game if UMBC are to turn things around, but correcting the defensive issues looks to be the highest priority in the short-term.