Lauren Featherstone becomes CCSU’s newest Aussie

Following a year without an Australian, Central Connecticut State has reignited the connection to Australia with the announcement that Australian Schoolgirls representative Lauren Featherstone has signed on with the program. Lauren becomes the latest name in a list of Blue Devils that includes Matildas representative Leah Blayney and W-League goalkeepers Nikola Deiter and Erin Herd.

Featherstone was picked as a replacement member of the Australian Schoolgirls team which toured the UK and Ireland in 2017 after competing at the national tournament as a member of the title-winning New South Wales side. Featherstone also played for Macarthur Rams in NPL New South Wales in 2016. In a team featuring names such as Leena Khamis, Nicola Bolger, Renee Rollason, Kylie Ledbrook, and Elizabeth Ralston, Featherstone played in 16 of the side’s 19 games  as the Rams reached the semi-finals before going down to Manly United. Former Blue Devil Leah Blayney is also involved with the Rams, meaning that Lauren should already have plenty of insight into the Central Connecticut State program.

Women’s World Cup winning coach Tony DiCicco has also been involved at times with Central Connecticut State in recent years, and if he chooses to reprise this role going forward, that will also be of great benefit to both Lauren and the entire Blue Devils squad.

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Canberra’s Sandra Hill signs on with Grand Canyon

The recent influx of Canberra-based players to US colleges has continued with the news that Tuggeranong United defender Sandra Hill will make the move to Arizona to play for Grand Canyon University. Hill joins Nicholls State striker and 2016 College Matildas Freshman of the Year Kristy Helmers as Tuggeranong United products to move to college in recent seasons.

Primarily a defender but with the ability to chip in a goal or assist on occasion, Hill has been involved with Tuggeranong United at an ACT Women’s Premier League level since 2013 and most recently played 13 of the team’s 16 matches in 2016 as the side featuring both Kristy Helmers and former Sydney FC and Canberra United squad member Meg McLaughlin reached the semi-finals. Hill also had the privilege of being coached by Canberra United coach Rae Dower during her junior development, which no doubt had a positive impact.

Grand Canyon have already found success with an Australian in another sport with Jess Gajewski forming an integral part of the women’s basketball program, and the Lopes’ faithful will be hoping that Sandra can do the same for the women’s soccer program at a school with big ambitions as the only for-profit college currently participating in NCAA Division I. The Lopes finished the last two seasons 7-9-2 and 7-9-3, so the base appears to have been built and it is surely time for the team to press on this season.

Newcastle pair Miller and House join Wyoming

The Australian pipeline to Wyoming continues to deliver with today’s announcement that Newcastle Jets W-League defender Brooke Miller and former Jets striker Jemma House have put pen to paper on National Letters of Intent and will link up with the Cowgirls for the 2017 season and beyond. The addition of the pair means that there will continue to be five Australians on Wyoming’s roster, with Miller and House joining Alisha Bass, Georgia Rowntree, Annika Clayton, and Jessie Gentle in Laramie.

Brooke Miller has been part of the Newcastle Jets W-League squad for the last three seasons. The centre back made her debut in October 2014, playing 24 minutes off the bench in a 5-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers, and has gone on to make 11 appearances for the Jets in her three seasons with the club, including three starts.

Brooke has also featured for the Emerging Jets side in the NPL New South Wales women’s league, making 25 appearances in two seasons in between commitments with the Under 17 and Under 20 national teams, with whom the defender has featured at a number of AFC tournaments, including the 2016 AFF Championship and 2015 AFC Under 19 Championship. Miller will not be the only player from that 2015 side to play in college, with UCLA’s Teagan Micah and Stanford’s Beattie Goad also part of that side which missed out on the knockout stages following defeats to Japan and China in the group stage.

Brooke’s commitment should also serve to ensure that Alisha Bass can return to her favoured attacking midfield role on a permanent basis. Despite the loss of senior defenders Katie Marcheso and Sammi Dunda, the addition of Miller will help improve the defensive depth in the Wyoming squad and give coach Pete Cuadrado the freedom to play the Australian senior higher up the park more often.

Jemma House has spent the last two seasons playing at nearby Laramie County Community College, where the striker has been one of the stars of the squad. A two-time all American, Jemma was also awarded the regional player of the year in 2016 and regional freshman of the year award in 2015 as part of a junior college career that saw the Kurri Kurri junior score 47 goals and tally 14 assists in 44 games. Jemma has also featured in Young Matildas training camp squads before making the move to Laramie. Having played two seasons in junior college, Jemma will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at Wyoming.

Isobel Dalton Transferring To Colorado

The number of Australians playing at Colorado in 2016 has increased to three, with NAIA transfer Isobel Dalton joining seniors Kahlia Hogg and Alexandra Huynh. Dalton joins the Buffaloes from Lindsey Wilson College and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Dalton led Lindsey Wilson to the NAIA national finals in 2015, slotting seven goals and tallying two assists in fourteen starts as the Blue Raiders fell agonisingly short of a national title, losing the championship game 3-0 to Spring Arbor.

A 5’6” midfielder, Dalton has experience playing for Australian youth teams, including starting for the Under 17 national team in World Cup qualifiers in 2012 and 2013, notching a goal in a 5-0 win over Myanmar which clinched qualification for the 2013 AFC Under 16 Girls Championships. Dalton also has experience playing in both the Australian W-League and the English Women’s Super League, playing for Brisbane Roar and Bristol City respectively.

In discussing her reasons for transferring, Dalton was effusive in her praise for her new team. “Colorado got in contact with me and asked me if I’d be interested, so I went and visited a few months back and straight away I decided that’s where I wanted to be. They have amazing facilities, great coaching staff, good bunch of girls and they’re a part of the Pac-12. So I knew straight away that they would be a hard working team and by being there it would definitely improve me as a player.”

Fellow Australian Alexandra Huynh has already taken on a mentor role of sorts, and is excited at the prospect of having yet another Australian on the team, replying “Isobel is going to bring international experience and some more Aussie fighting spirit,” when asked what the new signing would bring to the side.

Lindsey Wilson already has a history of developing Australian players. Former Brisbane Roar development player Albert Edward won an NAIA national title at Lindsey Wilson in 2011 before being drafted by MLS side Colorado Rapids in 2014 and later signing with USL Pro club Wilmington Hammerheads.

Dalton’s signing not only brings the number of Australians at Colorado to three, but increases the number playing in the Pac-12 to seven. Melbourne City’s Beattie Goad is joining Stanford, whilst Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Teagan Micah is moving to UCLA. Queensland midfielder Lulu Pullar started at USC in January, whilst Tia Gavin is returning to Washington State for her sophomore year after winning College Matildas Freshman Of The Year in 2015.

Lulu Pullar Signs With USC

The Pac-12 continues to swell with Australians, with former Queensland Academy of Sport and Olympic FC midfielder Lulu Pullar putting pen to paper, signing with the University of Southern California, just minutes up the road from fellow Queenslander Teagan Micah’s UCLA. Pullar is already in Los Angeles, having enrolled early and joined up with her new team in January.

A former Brisbane Roar trainee, Pullar travelled to the United Kingdom with the Australian Schoolgirls side in 2015, being named the side’s Player of the Tour. Pullar was also named NPL Queensland’s Rising Star of 2014 whilst playing for Olympic FC.

Pullar is not the first Australian to be coached by USC head coach Keidane McAlpine. McAlpine was in charge at Washington State during 2013 College Matildas Player Of The Year Rachael Doyle’s stint at Pullman. With his previous good experience coaching an Australian, it is little wonder that McAlpine was interested in bringing an Australian into his current team. Coincidentally, Doyle and Pullar play similar positions, with both being able to play in defence or midfield, though Pullar prefers midfield to Doyle’s natural defensive position.

Pullar’s signing brings the number of Australians in the Pac-12 to six. The Queenslander joins Teagan Micah (UCLA), Tia Gavin (Washington State), Beattie Goad (Stanford), Kahlia Hogg, and Alex Huynh (both Colorado) in arguably the premier women’s soccer conference in the NCAA.

Teagan Micah Joins Illustrious UCLA Class

A second Australian has joined a Pac-12 powerhouse, with Western Sydney Wanderers and Young Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah signing on to play for UCLA for the next four years. The Bruins alumni include US national team players Lauren Holiday and Sydney Leroux, as well as Sam Mewis, who won the NCAA championship in 2013 alongside 2015/16 Newcastle Jets players Caprice Dydasco and Megan Oyster, as well as Adelaide United’s Sarah Killion and Abby Dahlkemper. Micah becomes part of the #1 ranked recruiting class for 2016, joining Canadian World Cup representative Jessie Fleming and US national team player Mallory Pugh as some of the newest Bruins.

Micah, originally from Queensland, was previously a member of the Brisbane Roar W-League squad before moving to Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2015/16 season, where injuries saw the goalkeeper in and out of the starting lineup. Micah was also a member of the Young Matildas side that played in the 2015 Under 19 AFC Championships, as well as playing in the 2015 AFF Championships, where the Young Matildas finished 3rd.

Micah’s signing means there are now four Pac-12 teams featuring Australians: Stanford (Beattie Goad), Washington State (Tia Gavin), Colorado (Alex Huynh and Kahlia Hogg), and UCLA. With the Pac-12 perhaps being the premier conference in NCAA women’s soccer, the signs are bright for the future of Australians making the move to play in college.

W-League Champion Goad Moves To Stanford

In one of the biggest signings of an Australian in NCAA women’s soccer history, 2-time W-League champion Beattie Goad will leave Melbourne City and join national powerhouse Stanford for the next four seasons. Tagged as one of Australia’s finest prospects, Goad is a current member of the Young Matildas side, and started in 10 games for Melbourne City this season. Playing in all 14 games for the W-League’s newest side, Goad also scored four goals, including one against Sydney FC in Melbourne City’s W-League grand final success. Goad was also a member of Melbourne Victory’s successful 2013/14 W-League side, featuring in 9 games that season and 11 in 2014/15.

Goad’s addition will bring even more international experience to a midfield that already includes US Under 20 national team members Stephanie Amack and Jordan DiBiasi, as Stanford look to go a couple of steps further than last year’s national quarterfinal, which they lost on penalties to eventual finalists Duke.

Goad has also excelled in the classroom, which will stand her in good stead at Stanford. The young Victorian went incredibly close to achieving a perfect score in the International Baccalaureate, despite being called away from school on multiple occasions for footballing endeavours. Her score placed her in the top 1% of students in Victoria.