Australian coach Vanessa Mann has once again looked to her homeland to bolster the roster at UMBC, with Canberra United Academy duo Annie Grove and Isobel Davy officially committing to the Retrievers for 2021. The freshman pair will join Illawarra Stingrays product Abi Jordan to form a trio of Australians for the upcoming campaign.
Hailing from Garran in the south of Canberra, Grove has been a mainstay of the Canberra United Academy NPL Capital Football side for the last three campaigns, racking up 41 appearances since her debut in 2018. An integral part of the lineup, the diminutive defender picked up the academy’s First Grade Player of the Year in 2020 as the team in green finished fifth in NPL Capital Football.
Meanwhile, Davy hails from just over the border in Bungendore, NSW, but also features as a member of the Canberra United Academy side, making 35 appearances since her first grade debut in 2018. The goalkeeper was also named to the Young Matildas AFC Under 19 training camp squad in 2019, alongside recently named Olympians Charlotte Grant and Mary Fowler, as well as a litany of Matildas and W-League players. In more recent times, Davy has moved to Sydney to play NPL New South Wales for Football NSW Institute, making four first grade appearances to this point.
The pair also featured in ACT’s Under 17 NTC Challenge side in 2019, featuring alongside a number of Canberra United W-League players, including Emma Ilijoski, Hayley Taylor-Young, Matildas camp member Sally James, and Grove’s younger sister Sasha.
Defensive improvement has been high on the agenda for UMBC in recent years, with the Retrievers’ average goals conceded falling from 2.75 in 2018 to 1.56 in 2020’s truncated 6-game schedule. Adding Davy and Grove can only serve to continue this improvement, although UMBC will need to improve their scoring output as they have not averaged in excess of one goal per game since 2016. However, with a 14-player recruiting class this season, there is plenty of scope for the Retrievers to progress over the next few seasons across the pitch.