Following two seasons at Louisiana Tech, South Australian defender Caitlin Le Roux has made the short move south to Northwestern State, an NCAA Division I program located in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Le Roux becomes the second Australian in the Southland Conference for 2023, joining Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Molly Arens.
Originally from Adelaide, the former Cumberland United and Fulham United defender made 70 first grade appearances in NPL South Australia before making the switch to the college ranks with Conference USA program Louisiana Tech in 2021. Le Roux featured in 13 of the Techsters’ 17 games in her freshman campaign, making four starts for a team that finished 6-8-3 but went 3-1 in games that Le Roux started. 2022 saw Le Roux feature on 10 occasions, making three starts as Louisiana Tech slightly improved their record to 7-9-3 and also reached the Conference USA tournament before falling 4-1 to eventual runner-up Florida Atlantic.
Cumulatively, Le Roux saw 966 minutes of action in her 23 appearances for Louisiana Tech, notching the sole assist of her college career in a 1-0 win over Abilene Christian in 2022 and helping the team to six clean sheets in her 23 appearances. Now, the two-time C-USA Commissioner’s Honour Roll selection looks to garner more regular playing time with a team that is perhaps not as well-known as Louisiana Tech, but will certainly provide a high-level environment, particularly on recent evidence.
Although the Southland Conference does not garner the same kind of prestige as Conference USA, Northwestern State have demonstrated that conferences can be deceiving in recent seasons, defeating Le Roux’s Louisiana Tech side 4-1 last season whilst also securing a draw with Sun Belt outfit Arkansas State and narrowly falling 1-0 to AAC program Southern Methodist. The Demons also reached the NCAA Tournament in 2021 after winning the Southland Conference tournament, and also reached the semi-finals of the conference tournament in 2022. Now, with a new head coach in Ian Brophy, and a transfer class that includes nine players, the Demons look to continue their recent success. Northwestern State finished 16th in the country for goals per game in 2022, but it is the ranking of 31st in goals against average that Le Roux will be tasked with maintaining or even improving. The Demons conceded just 0.728 goals per game last season, with their goalkeepers forced into just two saves per game. Should they be able to improve, or even maintain, those numbers, another run to the NCAA Tournament is definitely within the realms of possibility.
Whilst Northwestern State’s complete schedule has not been released, the Demons do have a couple of intriguing early games on the calendar. The Demons head to top-100 RPI outfit North Texas whilst also hosting top-40 RPI side Rice, with these teams also comprising the top two in the C-USA regular season standings in 2022. Of course, the matchup with Molly Arens and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will also be worth keeping an eye on as the Aussie duo face off in conference play.