A seven-player group of forwards light on goalscoring returns but full of potential lines up in 2019, with Nicholls State’s senior trio of Tessa Calabria, Kristy Helmers, and Shauni Reid looking to improve the Colonels’ attack. Meanwhile, Demi Koulizakis will look to make an impact in her senior year after winning Texas Tech’s Most Improved Player in 2018.
Indianna Asimus (Sophomore, Wyoming, Newcastle)
A starter in 9 of her 20 appearances in her freshman year, Asimus comes into the 2019 season looking to help fill the void left by fellow Australians, Caitlin Pickett, Annika Clayton and Jessie Gentle in the Wyoming attack. Wyoming may have finished as regular season champions in the Mountain West Conference in 2018, but several players from that team have now graduated and departed the program. With multiple forwards returning, how many additional starts Asimus picks up this year remains to be seen, but there will certainly be extra minutes available for the sophomore from Newcastle. Asimus also spent her offseason playing in the Northern NSW Premier League for Merewether United, which should provide her with a leg-up in terms of match fitness upon her return to Laramie for the upcoming season.
Bui (Freshman, Alabama State, Canberra)
Shelbi Vienna-Hallam may have left Alabama State after the 2017 season after stints as both a player and coach, but the Australian presence in Montgomery has returned with the signing of Tuggeranong United forward Sophie Bui. A club teammate of Nicholls State senior Kristy Helmers, Bui has made 29 NPL Capital Football appearances over the past two seasons, having banged in goals for fun at the youth level. Bui secured the Golden Boot at both Under 16 and Under 17 level in the Capital Football Women’s Premier League, and whilst goals haven’t been quite as forthcoming at the senior level, Bui clearly has pedigree and the Alabama State faithful will be hoping the freshman can bolster an attack that has lost a little bit of its bite since the graduation of a number of star forwards over the last couple of seasons, with 2018’s production of 24 goals paling in comparison to the previous year’s output of 39.
Calabria (Senior, Nicholls State, Adelaide)
A goalscoring assassin at the junior
college level, injury prevented Calabria from making any real impact in her
first season at Nicholls State, but the South Australian comes into her senior
season with scoring pedigree in a team that is in desperate need of goals. The
Colonels finished just 3-15 last season, posting a scoring average of less than
a goal per game for the second consecutive season. Although Calabria tallied
just a single goal in six injury-plagued appearances, the senior averaged a
goal per game in her final season of junior college soccer whilst also tallying
nine assists, and it may turn out that her ability to tee up teammates proves
as valuable as her goalscoring prowess as the Colonels look to atone for a
fairly dismal 2018.
Clark (Senior, Chicago State, Innisfail)
Having made eight appearances, including
four starts, in her first Division I season in 2018, junior college transfer
Clark will be hoping to put together a season with fewer interruptions in her
final year of college soccer. A scorer of 8 goals in her only full season in
junior college, Clark certainly has proven her ability to put the ball in the
back of the net, and with Chicago State losing very few seniors from last year’s
team, a bolstered roster should hopefully be able to provide Clark with the
service she requires. However, a bolstered roster also means more competition
for places, so the senior will have to be at the top of her game in pre-season
to maintain a starting spot.
Helmers (Senior, Nicholls State, Canberra)
A tough season for Nicholls State on the
whole saw Helmers tally just two goals in 2018, but the senior has proven in
the past that she can bang in the goals and, with Tessa Calabria’s assistance,
will be hoping to improve the Colonels’ output. Helmers registered six goals
and five assists in her freshman year in 2016 whilst playing alongside fellow
Aussie, Jess Coates, but goals have hardly been as forthcoming since that time
as Nicholls State have struggled across the pitch. Whilst additional goals
won’t be the antidote to the defensive problems that have also plagued the
Colonels in recent times, Helmers is a proven goalscorer and will no doubt want
to return to the form she has shown in previous years in her final season in
Koulizakis (Senior, Texas Tech, Sydney)
An option off the bench for most of her college career until last season, Koulizakis stepped up for Texas Tech in 2018 and now has the chance to put together a senior season that can set her up for a professional career, with a starting berth for the Red Raiders beckoning. Koulizakis enjoyed a strong spring campaign before returning to Sydney to spend her offseason playing NPLNSW for Sydney Olympic, a move that the senior believes will assist her in hitting the ground running for her final college season as she maintains her match fitness. How that preparation translates come August remains to be seen, but Koulizakis has certainly put herself in position to enjoy an outstanding senior year.
Reid (Senior, Nicholls State, Perth)
A crucial member of the Tyler Junior
College side that reached the NJCAA Championship in 2016 and won the title in
2017, Reid tallied 5 goals and 4 assists in their championship-winning
campaign, paving the way for the Western Australian to secure a spot on a
Division I roster. Reid will be one of three Australian forwards on the
Nicholls State roster this season alongside Kristy Helmers and Tessa Calabria, with
the trio tasked with improving the Colonels’ lacklustre offence of recent
seasons. Fortunately, Reid, like Calabria and Helmers, is adept at both teeing
up teammates and scoring goals herself, providing new head coach Danny Free
with plenty of options up front.
A stacked midfield group featuring junior national representatives Aimee Medwin and Eliza Ammendolia, national champion Beattie Goad, and senior Matilda Rachel Lowe is set to provide plenty of excitement in 2019, with a number of players in position to make a significant impact on their teams. The continued improvement of Alyssa Van Heurck is one storyline to keep an eye on, with the sophomore having made the move from defence into a more attacking role in 2018.
(Featured Image Credit: Stanford Athletics)
Eliza Ammendolia (Freshman, Hawaii, Griffith)
With 15 W-League appearances for Western Sydney Wanderers under her belt, Ammendolia comes into her first college season as one of the more credentialed players among all Aussies in NCAA Division I. The pint-sized midfielder has represented the Young Matildas at a major tournament and has already built a solid resume at both NPL and W-League level, and will almost certainly come in and bolster a Hawaii side that will need to replace 2018 Big West Conference Player of the Year and current Utah Royals squad member Raisa Strom-Okimoto if they are to maintain their current level and make a charge at the post-season in 2019. In particular, the Rainbow Wahine will need to replace Strom-Okimoto’s goal output, but with 6 goals in her most recent NPL season, Ammendolia certainly has the scoring prowess to help atone for that loss.
Gaby Bentley (Senior, Old Dominion, Adelaide)
A regular in the Old Dominion rotation for
the past two seasons, starts have been rare for Bentley but appearances have
been forthcoming. But with a number of midfielders having graduated after last
season, there are now additional minutes to battle for in the lead-up to the
2019 season. Bentley has certainly shown herself to be worthy of a starting
berth with her appearances off the bench in 2018, tallying two goals from
midfield as the Monarchs finished with an 8-7-4 record to secure a second
consecutive winning season. Now, in her final season, the South Australian will
be hoping to play a far more integral role as Old Dominion look to make a run
at a conference championship after setting a platform with two solid seasons.
D’arne Boato (Freshman, East Tennessee State, Melbourne)
Isabel Hodgson’s scintillating college career may be over, but the Australian presence at East Tennessee State remains with the addition of freshman D’arne Boato. A teammate of Mississippi freshman Aimee Medwin at South Melbourne, Boato has been a member of three squads that have reached NPL grand finals at both senior and age group level across the last two seasons, serving as a regular member of the club’s Under 18 and Under 19 squads as well as making appearances for the first team during a highly successful period for the club. Having made the move to Johnson City in January, Boato has enjoyed a long settling-in period with her new side, something that will help to stand her in good stead in her first season in college.
Caitlin Cantrill (Senior, LSU, Canberra)
One of the senior members of the LSU
roster, Cantrill will be hoping to see more playing time in 2019 after not
getting on the pitch during LSU’s outstanding 2018 season which culminated in
an SEC Championship and NCAA Tournament second round berth before the Tigers
fell to USC. How much playing time the Canberra product sees this season will
rest upon the impression she makes upon interim head coach Debbie Hensley, who
replaces Brian Lee after his surprise move to Rice in the off-season. Hensley
was also on LSU’s staff in Cantrill’s freshman year in 2016, a season in which
the midfielder made 12 appearances and four starts, by far her most impressive
season to this point. As one of just three seniors on the roster, Cantrill may
not have the biggest impact on the pitch in her final season, but will certainly
provide an outstanding mentor for the younger players on the roster, as
evidenced by her words of advice to the graduating class of her high school
alma mater, Radford College, in 2018.
Kiri Dale (Senior, Hawaii, Mullumbimby)
Able to slot in at just about any position
on the pitch with the exception of goalkeeper, Kiri Dale serves as an integral
member of the Hawaii lineup, having made 12 starts in her 16 appearances in
2018. Be it delivering balls in from out wide or controlling the centre of
midfield, Dale’s presence helped Hawaii come within a final day result of
reaching the Big West conference tournament for the first time before falling
agonisingly short last season, and with the Rainbow Wahine losing just two
players to graduation, Dale and the remainder of the team are well-positioned
to go one step further and give themselves a shot at a conference title and an
Laura Farrelly (Sophomore, Marshall, Central Coast)
Having not featured for Marshall in her
freshman season, Farrelly comes into this season looking to play her first
minutes for the Thundering Herd whilst attempting to establish herself in the
midfield of a team looking to vastly improve on last season’s 5-9-2 record,
their third consecutive losing season since compiling a 15-5-3 record in 2015.
Should Farrelly take to the pitch this season, the sophomore is set to play an
attacking midfield role for a team that was decent in the front third last
season, but by no means electric, finishing almost dead in the middle of the
national rankings for goals per game. Whilst the Marshall defence certainly
needs more improvement than the attack, if Farrelly can help to provide a
couple of unexpected goals throughout the season, they could yet turn a couple
of losses into draws and draws into wins, compiling a solid season in the
Beattie Goad (Senior, Stanford, Melbourne)
Already a national champion in 2017 with Stanford, Goad will no doubt be looking to round out her career with a second College Cup title as the Cardinal enter a new era following the graduation of a raft of players that included Alana Cook, Tierna Davidson, Tegan McGrady, and Jordan DiBiasi after the 2018 season, all of whom now play in NWSL or the French top flight. Having come off the bench in over 60% of her appearances for Stanford, the opportunity to become a regular starter in her senior season now presents itself for Goad, who will be one of a number of experienced players expected to take on a larger role with the aim of keeping Stanford among the top teams in the nation. What position Goad will actually fill in 2019 remains to be seen though, with the two-time W-League champion being utilised as a fullback, winger, and central midfielder during her time on the Farm, and it may come to pass that that versatility is the ace up her sleeve in the hunt for more playing time in her final season.
Rachel Lowe (Freshman, UCLA, Sydney)
UCLA teammate Teagan Micah may have been to the 2019 World Cup with the Matildas, but Lowe already has a senior cap with the national team after her call-up for the 2018 Algarve Cup, and is set to become the first player to receive a Matildas cap before making their college debut since Washington State legend and current Hawaii assistant coach Rachael Doyle. An integral member of the Western Sydney Wanderers W-League side before making the move to Westwood, Lowe will certainly have a battle on her hands to slot into the UCLA lineup with the same regularity, particularly as the Bruins lost just two players to graduation after the 2018 season. However, Lowe has clearly demonstrated enough class for Bruins coach Amanda Cromwell to recruit her from the other side of the Pacific, so the opportunities will no doubt be there for the young midfielder.
Aimee Medwin (Freshman, Mississippi, Hobart)
The first Tasmanian to play NCAA Division I
women’s soccer since Alabama State legend Shelbi-Vienna Hallam, Junior Matildas
representative Medwin comes to Mississippi with a solid pedigree, with first
team experience at South Melbourne and a W-League debut with Melbourne City in
2018 already under her belt before making the move to Oxford. The wide
attacking player’s arrival at Mississippi coincides with an interesting time
for the program, who find themselves at a crossroads after a solid 2018
campaign. The Rebels finished fourth in the regular season SEC standings and reached
the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but will have to replace the
goalscoring output of NWSL draftee CeCe Kizer, who tallied 13 goals last
season. However, Mississippi did feature one of the leakier defences in the SEC
last season, and it may yet come to pass that Medwin is deployed in the back
line, having been utilised as a fullback during her time in national colours.
Eden Taylor-Wineera (Freshman, North Dakota State, Sydney)
Taylor-Wineera looked set to form half of an Australian duo at North Dakota State, but with Lauren Featherstone returning home permanently, the freshman will now be the only Aussie on the Bison roster in her first season. Mostly a reserves player for Macarthur Rams, Taylor-Wineera did make five appearances for the first-grade side that won the NPLNSW Grand Final in 2018 before making the move to Fargo. With two of the team’s starting midfielders, including an All-Summit League First Team selection, graduating after the 2018 campaign, Taylor-Wineera joins the Bison at a time where the roster features a number of midfielders with no more than a season of college experience all fighting for minutes. Whether this translates into immediate playing time for the freshman remains to be seen, but there are certainly opportunities to shoot for from day one for the Sydneysider.
Alyssa Van Heurck (Sophomore, La Salle, Perth)
A defender until she arrived at La Salle,
Van Heurck slotted into a spot on the wing for the Explorers and immediately
found her niche, earning six starts in her 17 appearances in her first season
in Philadelphia. Whilst the Explorers may not have enjoyed the same success as
they had in 2017, the emergence of Van Heurck as a versatile option on either
flank was one of the positives of the 2018 season, with the then-freshman also
picking up her first goal in just the second game of her college career, a 5-0
win over UMBC. Now, with a number of attacking starters having graduated after
the 2018 season, Van Heurck has the opportunity to assert her position in the
La Salle attack, and will look to establish herself as a regular starter as the
Explorers look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three
Eight Australian defenders will take to the pitch this season, with a number of intriguing storylines emerging. The return of Siena Senatore after two years away is certainly one to follow, whilst freshman duo Abi Jordan and Teal Kilbride could form a centre-back pairing at UMBC from day one.
(Featured Image Credit: Michael Rincon)
Victoria Franklin (Freshman, SMU, Brisbane)
Franklin may be yet to lace up the boots
for a competitive college soccer fixture, but the freshman has already tasted
collegiate competition on the water as part of Southern Methodist’s rowing team
which finished second in the AAC championships earlier this year. By far the
tallest defender on the Mustangs roster, Franklin’s height will bring an aerial
presence to an SMU team that had little trouble banging in the goals, averaging
two per game, but had the tendency to ship multiple goals, finishing the season
with five clean sheets but giving up more than one goal six times in 2018. That
time with the rowing team will also have helped Franklin learn how to juggle
study and athletics, giving the Queenslander a leg-up over most freshmen, who
will come into their first season with little to no time to adjust to the
machinations of the life of a student-athlete.
Sandra Hill (Junior, Grand Canyon, Canberra)
A regular at fullback for Grand Canyon, Hill has compiled not only 29 appearances for Grand Canyon over the last two seasons, but also a handful of outings with the Cambodian national team, including one against the Young Matildas in the 2018 AFF Women’s Championship. Adept at getting forward from her wide position in defence, Hill was rewarded with the first goal of her college career in Grand Canyon’s WAC Tournament loss to Utah Valley last season, rattling home a sublime strike from just outside the area. The Antelopes are yet to secure a winning season since their move to NCAA Division I in 2013, and Hill is now one of the senior players on a team looking to fill the gaps left by four starters who graduated after the 2018 season. The fullback will no doubt be looked to as one of the leaders, particularly in the defensive line after the loss of a starting defender and goalkeeper following last year’s campaign.
Abi Jordan (Freshman, UMBC, Wollongong)
If a teenager can also be a veteran, then that is a perfect description for Jordan, who has already racked up 50 NPLNSW appearances for Illawarra Stingrays’ first team prior to her move to UMBC. A championship winner at both NPLNSW and Futsal Premier League 2 level, Jordan has also represented both state and country at schoolgirls level, and heads to Baltimore with the kind of pedigree that could see her slot straight into the starting lineup from day one. Having finished 2-15 last season, the Retrievers do need to improve in all areas, but shoring up the defence looks to be the main priority at this point, and Jordan appears well-placed to be a major part of that rebuild as Australian head coach Vanessa Mann dips into her homeland’s stocks to bolster her roster.
Teal Kilbride (Freshman, UMBC, Central Coast)
The second of two Australians to sign for countrywoman Vanessa Mann at UMBC, Kilbride will be hoping to step in and form a new centre back pairing with fellow freshman Abi Jordan as the Retrievers look to shore up a defence that leaked the best part of three goals per game in 2018. Already a teammate of Jordan’s with the Australian Schoolgirls team that toured the United States in 2018, Kilbride is a real chance of playing alongside her fellow countrywoman from the outset, particularly given the lack of experienced defenders on the Retrievers’ roster and the team’s leakiness at the back in 2018. The UMBC attack will need to vastly improve last season’s output of 0.88 goals per game if the team is to make a significant improvement on last season’s record of 2-15, but building out from the back with an improved defence can only serve to help the team going forward, both figuratively and literally.
Ashleigh Lefevre (Sophomore, Illinois, Melbourne)
The most credentialed member of last year’s
freshman class, Lefevre came in with Young Matildas experience under her belt,
and managed to compile 15 appearances off the bench for Illinois last season,
most of which came as cameos of 10-20 minutes. The Illinois defence this year
returns three seniors but no juniors, meaning that Lefevre will be among the
most experienced players in the Illini backline in 2020. This makes 2019 a year
for Lefevre to turn those brief cameos into extended stints or even starts, and
consolidate her position in the rotation. With nine defenders in the squad,
minutes won’t just be handed to the sophomore, but given that Lefevre made 15
appearances in 2018, the Illinois coaching staff do appear to see the fullback
as a member of the rotation going forward.
Sam Roff (Senior, Fairleigh Dickinson, Canberra)
A permanent fixture in the All-Northeast Conference selections during her time at Fairleigh Dickinson, Sam Roff has but one thing to achieve in her final season with the Knights: a conference championship and the NCAA Tournament berth that comes with it. Whilst Roff may not be the kind of defender that gets forward to put up assist and scoring numbers, the fact that Fairleigh Dickinson are yet to concede more than nine goals in their eight conference games in a season during her time with the team speaks volumes about the senior’s defensive ability, and the Knights will once again be leaning on their captain to lead the defence. Whether that translates into silverware remains to be seen, but in Roff the Knights have one player that they know will bring it each and every night.
Siena Senatore (Senior, Southeast Missouri State, Canberra)
Senatore played 29 games across two seasons
for Southeast Missouri State in 2015 and 2016, but since that time, the
Redhawks defence has been deprived of their rock at the back from Canberra. Whilst
the Southeast Missouri State side has featured a solid defence throughout the
last few years, there is no doubting that Senatore’s presence made them even
better, with the major question now surrounding whether the redshirt senior can
return to the form that she showed prior to her injury problems. If she can,
and the Redhawks’ attack can find a few more goals after a down year in 2018, it
could spell a remarkable turnaround for a team that had won at least eight
games in each of the last five seasons before finishing 4-8-5 in 2018.
Kate Swartwout (Senior, Western Carolina, Gold Coast)
A rock at the back when employed in defence
for Western Carolina, Swartwout is able to fill a number of positions and has
done so with aplomb in her three seasons in Cullowhee. Born in Australia but
raised just a two-hour drive from Western Carolina’s campus, Swartwout is in
the unique position of being the only Australian currently in Division I to
have also played her junior football in the US. Although the Catamounts are yet
to win more than nine games in a season in Swartwout’s time with the team, the
senior has been part of a defence that has improved over the last couple of
seasons, and now features a number of upperclassmen that can set the platform
for a more successful 2019 campaign. Whether Swartwout slots into the defence
or higher up the pitch remains to be seen, but with a skillset that belies her imposing
physical presence, the senior is set to have another impactful year in her
final college season.
Once the domain of Wyoming legend Georgia Rowntree, the Australian goalkeeping stocks in NCAA Division I are now four deep as freshman Teresa Morrissey joins Claudia Jenkins, Teagan Micah, and Grace Watson Carr in the US, with all four either the incumbent starter or a reasonable chance of securing the berth.
(Featured Image Credit: Rand Bleimeister/UCLA)
Claudia Jenkins (Junior, La Salle, Adelaide)
Having served her apprenticeship as a freshman, Jenkins stepped into the starting role between the sticks in 2018 and immediately became one of the most crucial members of the La Salle squad. Jenkins finished the 2018 season with an impressive save percentage of 0.788 and a goals against average of 1.248, a number that was skewed significantly by a number of penalties and own goals that also contributed to La Salle finishing with a middling 8-8-1 record after finishing 17-4-2 in 2017 and reaching the NCAA Tournament. However, with Jenkins back between the sticks for 2019, the Explorers can remain certain that there will always be at least one player on the pitch that they can rely on, with the South Australian remaining assured in goal throughout the 2018 season.
Teagan Micah (Senior, UCLA, Brisbane)
Not many college players can say they’re coming off a World Cup campaign, but Micah is one of two players on the UCLA roster to have travelled to France in June, alongside Canadian midfield sensation Jessie Fleming. Whilst Micah may have not made an appearance as the third goalkeeper in the Matildas World Cup squad, the experience will nonetheless done the UCLA custodian the world of good and helped to prepare her for leading the Bruins in their quest to return to the College Cup after reaching the national championship game in 2017. Micah has finished in the top 50 in the nation for clean sheets in all three of her college seasons to date, and has also improved her goals against average from 0.96 in her freshman year to 0.74 in her junior year. Whilst the senior will no doubt be aided by a rock-solid UCLA defence, Micah’s own ability helps to make the Bruins an incredibly tough proposition for any opposing forward line.
This was the moment @TeaganMicah found out she was going to a World Cup!
Teresa Morrissey (Freshman, Rhode Island, Melbourne)
A member of the Young Matildas’ squad in 2018, Rhode Island have picked up a player with not only potential but the ability to step in immediately if need be in Morrissey. The Victorian has suffered injury troubles in the past, but clearly has class between the sticks and will surely compete for the starting spot at Rhode Island, even if her only competition for the position, junior Julia Freeman, started in five games last season. As well as her experience with the Young Matildas, Morrissey has also made over 40 appearances for the Senior NTC side in NPL Victoria, and despite playing in a young side that often found themselves overmatched against more experienced opposition, demonstrated her class on a regular basis to earn national honours.
Watson-Carr may not have featured in 2018 as part of a roster that featured five goalkeepers and included two seniors, but the starting berth will now go to one of three players, none of whom have seen any playing time at the college level. An occasional member of a Sydney Olympic side that reached two NPL 2 NSW grand finals in 2017 and 2018, picking up a championship in the latter, Watson-Carr does possess high-level experience, and also helped Sydney Olympic to a reserve grade title in 2018 alongside their first grade success. Being an underclassman goalkeeper on a roster that includes a redshirt junior in the same position rarely bodes well for a player’s minutes, but Watson-Carr will come into this season on level pegging with her rivals for the starting berth as all three goalkeepers on the roster look to make their first appearance in 2019.
Australians in NCAA Division I women’s soccer scored 22 goals and tallied 26 assists in 2018. However, 11 of those goals and 16 of those assists came via players who will not be returning to college in 2019, either due to graduation or other reasons. Despite a comparative lack of attacking output among the returning players, there are a number of players who are yet to regularly add their names to the scoresheet that could yet have breakout seasons and provide memorable moments this year. College Matildas takes a look at four players and one duo that could all make significant impacts for their teams in 2019.
(Featured Image Credit: Bill Dally/ISIPhotos.com)
Demi Koulizakis (Texas Tech)
Koulizakis came on in leaps and bounds in her junior season, and with a number of spots opening up in the Texas Tech front line, the senior from Sydney now has her best opportunity yet to cement a spot in the starting lineup. Already named Texas Tech’s Most Improved Player in 2018 by her teammates, the versatile attacking player now has the chance to show that last season wasn’t simply a one-off, with three spots in the midfield and front line up for grabs.
Koulizakis’ outstanding spring form has her in the box seat to nail down a starting berth after finishing the campaign with four goals and an assist, including a hat-trick against Lubbock Christian. Furthermore, the senior’s cause will hardly have been harmed by spending her offseason playing in the NPLNSW competition for a Sydney Olympic side featuring the likes of Matildas midfielder Teresa Polias as well as a number of players with W-League experience.
Beattie Goad (Stanford)
Three seasons at Stanford playing a supporting role behind some of the most talented players to pull on a Cardinal jersey means Goad has served an unusually long apprenticeship, but the opportunity has now presented itself for the Victorian to serve as an integral part of the starting lineup. Goad has started in 24 of her 64 appearances for Stanford, and last season tallied 2 goals and 3 assists, both career highs for a single season as the Cardinal returned to the College Cup as defending champions before falling to eventual champions Florida State in the semi-finals.
— Stanford Women's Soccer (@StanfordWSoccer) May 1, 2019
What position the senior fills remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Goad can become a mainstay of the Stanford starting eleven in her final season, and if she does indeed fill an attacking role, the Victorian will have plenty of opportunities to both tee up teammates and score goals herself.
Tessa Calabria (Nicholls State)
Injury restricted the junior college transfer to just 6 appearances in 2018, but Calabria comes into her final season of collegiate soccer looking to make up for lost time in a Nicholls State side that could really use her goalscoring prowess. Having scored 25 goals and contributed 16 assists during two years at Iowa Lakes Community College, Calabria knows not only how to find the back of the net, but tee up her teammates, which in turn could help her develop a key partnership with fellow Australian Kristy Helmers, who will be itching to return to the goalscoring form that saw the senior tally 6 goals in her freshman season.
With Western Australian senior Shauni Reid also expected to spend time up front, Calabria’s return could be the catalyst for the Australian trio to return Nicholls State to a similar level that the program found itself at in the days of Australian midfielder Jess Coates, who helped the Colonels to their last winning seasons in 2013 and 2014.
Alyssa Van Heurck (La Salle)
A defender by trade, Van Heurck made the move into a wide attacking role in her first season at La Salle and took to the change like a duck to water. Although the majority of her appearances were cameos of 15-25 minutes, Van Heurck eventually six starts in her freshman season, tallying a single goal and playing in excess of 40 minutes in the final two games of the campaign.
Whilst a couple of more experienced players are returning this season after missing 2018 due to injury, there remain a number of positions open in the La Salle starting eleven, and Van Heurck is certainly in the running for a more prominent berth in the rotation. Even if the Western Australian isn’t able to nail down a starting berth, 2019 could serve as an excellent setup year as the Explorers will again need to replace a number of seniors in 2020.
Caitlin Pickett & Indianna Asimus (Wyoming)
Pickett and Asimus both featured regularly for Wyoming in their freshman seasons in 2018, but with the loss of a couple of key pieces of the Cowgirls’ attack, the Australian duo will become even more crucial as the team from Laramie looks to turn last year’s Mountain West Conference regular season title into a conference championship and secure an NCAA Tournament berth. Both of Pickett’s goals in 2018 came in sudden death overtime, and whilst those clutch plays are always welcomed, the sophomore will be counted on to improve upon that number to keep the Cowgirls flying high in 2019.
Meanwhile, Asimus is yet to tally a goal or an assist, but having made nine starts last season and averaged 47 minutes per appearance, the Wyoming coaching staff obviously have faith in the sophomore to emerge as an offensive weapon going forward. Whether that translates into tangible returns remains to be seen, but if Asimus and Pickett both fire this season, Mountain West Conference defences are in a world of trouble.
30 players will represent Australia in NCAA Division I women’s soccer this season, including 2017 national champion Beattie Goad at Stanford and national runner-up Teagan Micah at UCLA. However, with players such as Georgia Rowntree, Alisha Bass, Harriet Withers, Nyomi Devine, Emily Hulbert, and Paige Hayward having now graduated, it is almost a new era for College Matildas.
Claire Urquhart was finally given a more extended run in the Albany side in her junior year, playing 12 games in 2017, compared to her seven total appearances in her first two seasons. The senior’s ability to slot into either midfield or the back four helped Urquhart in finding more opportunities last season, and with a number of defensive starters returning in 2018, it may again be the case that Urquhart finds herself splitting time across a number of positions. The Great Danes finished with a 6-11-1 record in 2017 and were knocked out in the first round of the America East tournament, but have scheduled a tough non-conference slate in 2018 that should leave them battle-tested and ready for an improved charge at a conference title this season and a return to the NCAA Tournament following 2016’s appearance in which they fell 4-2 to Connecticut in a tough first-round matchup.
Lauren Featherstone (Freshman, Midfielder, Central Connecticut State, Sydney)
After redshirting her first year at Central Connecticut State, Lauren Featherstone comes into her first year of collegiate play with a year of experience under her belt. What effect this has on the Sydneysider’s play remains to be seen, but there is no doubting that not having to settle into college life whilst playing her first season will be an added positive for Featherstone. Already earmarked for a starting position in the CCSU midfield, Featherstone will still have to ensure she earns that spot in preseason, but it shapes to be an exciting year for the versatile midfielder. CCSU return the majority of players from last year’s Northeast Conference tournament semi-final team, meaning that this year shapes to be one of their best chances at a conference title and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Having played in just 7 times for a total of 86 minutes in 2017, Isobel Dalton will certainly be hoping that her senior year brings more playing time at Colorado. The Buffaloes return the majority of last season’s midfield, but as always there will be some new opportunities opening up with a couple of players graduating after the 2017 season. With a pair of NCAA Tournament berths in the last two seasons, both of which ended in second round defeats, there is no doubt that Colorado will be looking to, at the very least, reach the Sweet 16 in 2018 and finally get over that hurdle.
Emma Heckenberg (Senior, Defender, Drexel, Melbourne)
Heckenberg started her career at Drexel up front, but has eventually found her niche in the backline, forming part of a stellar Dragons defence that conceded just five goals in conference play. The Victorian was limited to 13 appearances last season, but if she can remain fit in 2018, expect to see Heckenberg as a mainstay in a back four where stability will be vital given former goalkeeper and program stalwart Christiana Ogunsami graduated after last season. Having reached the CAA championship game in 2016 and semi-finals last season, Drexel will once again be gunning for a spot in the conference tournament in a generally tough and evenly-matched conference. If the defence remains as strong as in 2017, there is no reason that can’t happen.
Isabel Hodgson (Senior, Defender, East Tennessee State, Adelaide)
Isabel Hodgson has played just about every position bar goalkeeper in her three years at East Tennessee State, and whilst she has been successful in every one of them, it appears that fullback will be her position going forward as the Buccaneers look to rebound from a 2017 campaign that saw the team finish with a 6-12 record and a dismal 0-8 road record. Hodgson was one of a pair of Australians in Division I to score more than one goal last season, proving that whilst her chances may not be as plentiful as when she was playing in a more advanced role, the South Australian still has the ability to get forward and join the attack when the opportunity presents itself.
Sam Roff (Junior, Defender, Fairleigh Dickinson, Canberra)
One of the first names on the team sheet for Fairleigh Dickinson, Sam Roff has been among the best defenders in the entire Northeast Conference throughout her two seasons in New Jersey. Fairleigh Dickinson finished third in the NEC for average goals conceded per game in 2017, but the majority of those goals came during an extremely tough non-conference slate that set the Knights up for a conference season that saw them reach the conference championship game before falling to Shelby Milton and St. Francis in a shootout in the decider. Roff was rewarded for her outstanding performances in 2017 with a selection in the Northeast Conference All-Conference First Team, and with still two years left in her college career, the Canberra product could yet become one of the greats of the Fairleigh Dickinson program.
Hannah Allen (Freshman, Midfielder, Georgia Southern, Brisbane)
Listed as a forward for Georgia Southern but certainly able to play multiple positions, Hannah Allen joins an Eagles side looking to continue its upward trajectory, having improved from 6-10-1 in 2016 to 8-9-2 in 2017. Having played at school level under Brisbane Roar W-League coach Mel Andreatta, Allen has no doubt benefitted from that elite coaching and will now look to force her way into the team as part of a slightly large 30-player Eagles squad.
Sandra Hill (Sophomore, Defender, Grand Canyon, Canberra)
Although Sandra Hill won 2017’s College Matildas Freshman of the Year award, there is certainly plenty more to come from the Grand Canyon fullback. Fresh off her first appearances for the Cambodian national team at the AFF Championship, including an appearance against the Young Matildas, Hill returns to Arizona with priceless experience under her belt. Having made a reasonably decent 13 appearances in her freshman year, Hill will no doubt want to increase her playing time in her sophomore season, and with three of Grand Canyon’s eight defenders in their freshman season this year, Hill is now one of the more experienced players in the backline in just her second year of college soccer.
Kiri Dale (Junior, Midfielder, Hawaii, Mullumbimby)
Kiri Dale took a risk last season by transferring from Iona to the much more highly-rated Hawaii, but the move paid off in spades as the versatile wide player secured a spot in the Rainbow Wahine’s rotation. Dale made an instant impact in 2017, coming up with the assist on an overtime golden goal in the very first game of the season. That was Dale’s only assist of the season, but the Iona transfer made her mark in other ways, making 11 starts and 17 appearances for a Hawaii team that finished 6-10-1 but whose progress was hindered by a 1-6-1 conference record. If the Rainbow Wahine can improve that conference record, it will make for a vastly improved season and 10 wins is by no means out of the question. Dale will also not be the only Aussie at Hawaii this season, with former Washington State star and Matildas representative Rachael Doyle joining the program as an assistant coach.
2017’s College Matildas Defender of the Year, Iannella has proven herself to be a weapon at both ends of the pitch for Hofstra. Her ability to whip the ball in, particularly from corners, led to six assists last season, whilst her defensive prowess has rarely, if ever, been called into question during her time with the Pride as the team gave up just 14 goals in 21 games last season on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance in which they were somehow forced to travel to Auburn for their first-round game, where they fell 1-0. Hofstra’s senior class in 2017 was absolutely stacked with talent, so the onus will now be on the likes of Iannella and her own senior class to lead the Pride and ensure that the team remains among the top sides in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The most accomplished of the seven new additions to the list of Australians in Division I, Ashleigh Lefevre is also the only freshman joining a power conference team in 2018. A member of the Young Matildas side that finished 3rd at the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship, Lefevre tallied a goal in the side’s 20-0 demolition of Timor-Leste in that tournament before returning to play 25 games for Alamein FC in 2017’s Victorian NPL competition. The versatile defender returned in 2018 to play 12 games before heading to Illinois. The Fighting Illini finished with just five wins in 2017, their second straight season finishing below .500, but with the vast majority of the most integral parts of the starting lineup returning, the team looks to be on the upswing. But with six seniors graduating, many of whom started at least a few games, there will still be plenty of minutes up for grabs for Lefevre in her senior season even if she doesn’t secure a starting berth from day one.
Claudia Jenkins (Sophomore, Goalkeeper, La Salle, Adelaide)
Jenkins spent her freshman season playing the backup role as La Salle stalwart Larisa Zambelli saw the vast majority of minutes between the sticks for an Explorers side that won two consecutive overtime games to win the Atlantic 10 title and reach the NCAA Tournament in 2017. With Zambelli’s graduation following the 2017 season, Jenkins is now the only goalkeeper on the La Salle roster with any college experience whatsoever as the Explorers look to make a return trip to the national stage. La Salle kept clean sheets in all but three conference games last season, and return the majority of starters in defence, whilst at the other end, sisters Madison and Maci Bower combined for 21 goals last season to ensure those solid defensive efforts wouldn’t go to waste and both will return for their senior seasons in 2018.
Alyssa Van Heurck (Freshman, Defender, La Salle, Perth)
Alyssa Van Heurck becomes the second Australian on the La Salle roster this season, making the move from Perth to join the Explorers alongside Claudia Jenkins. A product of the Football West NTC program, Van Heurck will bolster a strong La Salle defence that returns most of its starters, but only five experienced players. With La Salle’s success in 2017 built on defence, Van Heurck, like Jenkins, will be expected to help maintain the team’s level at the back in 2018 as the versatile defender looks to slot straight into the lineup.
A versatile defensive player with the ability to get forward from the back, Longmore joins a Lamar side that bulldozed its way through the Southland Conference in 2017. Whilst this will be the Busselton product’s first season in Division I, Longmore is no stranger to the world of college soccer, having played the last two seasons at Dodge City Community College in Kansas, and clearly did enough to draw the attention of the coaches at a program that is clearly on the rise after winning 18 of their 23 games last season and battling #6 seed Texas A&M all the way before falling to a 1-0 defeat in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
After featuring 12 times for LSU as a freshman, Cantrill managed just three appearances in 2017 and competition for playing time will be just as fierce in 2018 in a squad with 13 listed midfielders including freshman sensation Abbey Newton, who was recently named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year. The junior will be hoping for a return to the kind of playing time she saw in her freshman year, and LSU could do with not only Cantrill but all players firing on all cylinders as they look to hit double figures for wins for the first time since 2015, a season in which the roster featured former Western Sydney Wanderers and current Utah Royals defender Alex Arlitt.
Laura Farrelly (Freshman, Midfielder, Marshall, Central Coast)
Hailing from the same club as former College Matildas Freshman of the Year, Tia Gavin, Laura Farrelly joins a Marshall side looking to make some vast strides in 2018 after finishing 5-11-1 in 2017, missing the Conference USA tournament in the process after collecting just three wins in league play. Although Farrelly is primarily an attacking midfielder, the Manly United product can slot into a variety of positions in the centre of the park, and in a team overflowing with midfielders, that versatility could prove to be the ace up Farrelly’s sleeve that secures her more playing time than a player that is only comfortable in one position. With two senior midfielders in the starting lineup this year, 2018 may very well be Farrelly’s proving ground in an attempt to secure one of those spots that will open up in 2019.
Tessa Calabria joins Siobhan Longmore as junior college transfers joining the Division I ranks this season, and the pair will face off at the top level as Calabria makes the move to Nicholls State, a Southland Conference foe of Longmore’s Lamar side. Calabria becomes the third Australian at Nicholls State, alongside Kristy Helmers and Tenille Harberger, continuing the pipeline from Australia to Thibodaux. Having established a reputation as an outstanding goalscorer during her time at Iowa Lakes Community College, the Nicholls State faithful will be hoping that this transfers to the Division I level for a team in severe need of improved scoring in 2018 after finishing 265th of 335 teams in Division I for total goals in 2017.
Helmers comes into the 2018 season as one of just two returning Australians to have scored more than one goal in 2017. However, the Canberra product will be hoping for a return to 2016’s output of 6 goals rather than last season’s 3 goals as the Colonels struggled to find the back of the net as a team in 2017, tallying just six goals in conference play. The team will no doubt be helped by the fact that 12 of their 19 games in 2018 will be played at home but will have to make sure that home advantage counts after finishing 2-5 on their own patch in 2017 despite registering a 4-6-1 record on the road against many of the same opponents they will face in 2018.
Having redshirted her first season in Thibodaux, Tenille Harberger will now look to make an impact on the pitch in 2018 after a year easing into college. Now one of three Australians on the Colonels roster, Harberger will be tasked with providing midfield service to her countrywomen in Tessa Calabria and Kristy Helmers, but will have to earn her spot on the pitch in a roster stacked with midfielders. With no less than 13 players on the roster listed as midfielders, Harberger will have to carve out her own spot in the rotation, perhaps with a view towards taking a spot held by one of the senior midfielders once they move on in 2019.
Gaby Bentley (Junior, Midfielder, Old Dominion, Adelaide)
Gaby Bentley barely saw any playing time in her freshman season, but 2017 was a vastly different affair as the sophomore midfielder developed into an integral part of the Old Dominion team. Having appeared in just two games in 2016, Bentley finished with a single goal in her 17 appearances in midfield for an Old Dominion team that finished with a 9-5-4 record, a slight improvement on their 7-12 record in 2016. Whilst the Monarchs will have to replace C-USA Defender of the Year Jackie Stroud and starting goalkeeper Krista Moisio, who both graduated after the 2017 season, most of the team’s other starters return, including Bentley, who comes into this season as one of the more experienced midfield players for the Monarchs. Having finished 6-2-2 in conference play last season, Old Dominion will no doubt be seeing this season as the time to make that final jump to secure a conference title and make an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Siena Senatore (Senior, Defender, Southeast Missouri State, Canberra)
Senatore had a year away from the game due to injury in 2017 after a solid first two seasons at Southeast Missouri State, but now returns to shore up the Redhawks’ defence in her senior season. The only Aussie on the roster following Maddy Cornell’s graduation after the 2017 season, Senatore’s return is a timely one as the Redhawks feature only five pure defenders on the roster, although two other players have been known to slot into the backline. Having been just about ever-present in the Redhawks lineup prior to her injury, if Senatore can return to the form she showed before her absence, it will be a significant advantage for a team that finished 8-8-4 last season but was let down by their play on the road, finishing 1-5-4 away from Cape Girardeau.
Shelby Milton (Senior, Defender, St. Francis, Wollongong)
Shelby Milton and St. Francis secured the Northeast Conference on penalties last season, delivering the team an NCAA Tournament berth in the process. However, the defender out of Wollongong was rarely sighted on the pitch for the Red Flash, playing just six games and 233 minutes, although two of those appearances were starts. There will be a spot opening up in the backline at St. Francis in 2018 though, as captain and NEC All-Conference First Team selection Allison LaDuke recently graduated. If Milton can return to the form that saw her feature in 19 games in 2016, that spot could certainly become hers in 2018 as the Red Flash look to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Having won a national championship in 2017, Beattie Goad and Stanford will be gunning for back-to-back titles and they will come into the season among the favourites after returning the vast majority of their title-winning team from last season. On a personal level, Goad will no doubt be hoping to secure more playing time than she managed in either of her first two seasons. Whilst the Victorian played in the majority of the games in both of her first two seasons, much of her playing time came in short stints, resulting in about 40 minutes of action in most of her appearances. There aren’t many spots opening up in the starting lineup for the Cardinal, so Goad will have to do plenty in preseason to earn a starting spot, where the junior’s improving versatility may prove to be another asset.
‘Vastly underutitlised’ would probably be the most accurate way to describe Demi Koulizakis in 2017. Having played in 18 games in 2016, Koulizakis was afforded minimal playing time her sophomore year, with most of her 10 appearances allowing her far too little playing time to have any realistic chance of impacting a game. The forward stocks aren’t quite as overflowing at Texas Tech this season, but the Red Raiders do return a number of starters from 2017 in attacking roles. Whatever the case may be with regards to Koulizakis’ playing time this season, there is no doubt the Red Raiders could use some more goals, scoring multiple goals just three times in their nine conference games in 2017 as the team finished with a 9-7-3 record and a first-round exit in the Big 12 conference tournament.
A club teammate of former Colorado and Troy star Alex Huynh at Souths United in Queensland’s NPL competition, Burchell’s addition to the Towson lineup brings the number of Colonial Athletic Association teams featuring Aussies to four, alongside William and Mary, Drexel, and Hofstra. A target player with the ability to hold the ball up, Burchell has made 16 appearances for the third placed Souths United in Queensland’s NPL competition in 2018, scoring two goals in the process with most of her appearances coming as a substitute in the last 20 minutes. Towson struggled last season, finishing with just five wins and a fairly dismal 2-6-1 conference record, scoring just 6 goals in their Colonial Athletic Association schedule. With senior Maddie Bove taking 5 of the team’s 14 goals with her after graduating following the 2017 season, the onus will be on Burchell and her fellow forwards to not only make up that deficit, but add a few more in an effort to improve on last season’s record.
Teagan Micah (Junior, Goalkeeper, UCLA, Brisbane)
Having reached the College Cup championship game in 2017 before going down to Stanford in a classic at Orlando City Stadium, only one ending will suffice for Teagan Micah and UCLA in 2018: lifting the NCAA Championship trophy on the final day of the season. Micah has been all but ever-present between the sticks for the Bruins for the last two seasons, establishing herself as one of the better goalkeepers of her class in the process and a vital piece of the UCLA lineup. The Bruins lost a number of players to graduation after last season, but return a stacked team featuring recent US national team debutant Hailie Mace, bona-fide Canadian national team star Jessie Fleming, and a range of US youth team players in front of Micah as they look to make another run to the championship game in 2018.
Kate Swartwout (Junior, Defender, Western Carolina, Gold Coast)
A starter in six of her 17 appearances in 2017, Kate Swartwout will no doubt be hoping to convert more of those appearances into starts in her junior season. Primarily a defender, Swartwout’s height is a particular advantage in the backline, standing at 6 feet tall, a full two inches taller than any other player on the Catamounts roster. However, there is more to Swartwout’s game than standing tall and heading away crosses. Solid on the ball with a history of playing multiple positions during her younger years, the Gold Coast-born but North Carolina-raised junior has tallied an assist in each of her first two seasons in college. Western Carolina came from the clouds to reach the final of the Southern Conference tournament in 2017 before falling to UNC Greensboro in the final, with that run hopefully serving as a launchpad for this season.
Lorena Bugden (Freshman, Midfielder, William & Mary, Sydney)
Lorena Bugden spent her first year at William & Mary recuperating following a serious knee injury, and returns to a vastly changed program as head coach John Daly retired and Australian assistant coach Vanessa Mann took the head coaching job at UMBC. It was a disappointing season in 2017 for the Tribe as an 8-10-2 record saw the team’s 36-season streak of winning records snapped. The former Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder has been preparing herself well for the season, spending the winter regaining her fitness playing for APIA Leichhardt in the New South Wales NPL2 competition. Whilst she may not have been able to play in her freshman year, Bugden still has as good a chance as any player of securing solid minutes in 2018 as an inexperienced Tribe midfield looks to step up in a roster that features just four seniors and a total of eight upperclassmen, two of which are goalkeepers.
With the graduation of Alisha Bass and Georgia Rowntree after the 2017 season and Jemma House’s transfer to Nova Southeastern, Annika Clayton is now one of just two Australians on the Wyoming roster. Bass and Rowntree were two of the undoubted leaders of last year’s Cowgirls side, and as a senior, Clayton will no doubt be expected to step up to fulfil that role to some degree in 2018. The senior’s role in midfield will no doubt consist more of providing service to the frontline than creating her own chances, but nonetheless, Clayton will surely be hoping to improve on last season’s tally of a single goal as the Cowgirls look to replace the six goals that Aussie pair Alisha Bass and Jemma House tallied last season which represented one-third of the team’s total scoring for the season. Wyoming finished last season on a five-game losing streak that dropped them from 6-4-2 to 6-9-2, missing out on the Mountain West Conference tournament in the process, and ensuring the same thing does not happen again will be paramount in 2018.
Jessie Gentle forms the second half of Wyoming’s Aussie duo alongside Annika Clayton, and with both players in their senior season, we may be looking at the conclusion of an extended era of Aussie presence in the Cowgirls’ squad. However, Gentle, like Clayton, is an integral member of the Wyoming side, so the Australians are unlikely to go quietly into the good night. Able to play in any wide position, Gentle has been utilised both on the front line and as a wingback in her time at Laramie and has performed admirably in all positions. Although scoring hasn’t been Gentle’s forte, tallying just one goal in her three seasons, the Woolgoolga product did pop up with two assists in 2017 to move to four for her career, and a further increase in that number would surely go a long way to helping Wyoming improve on last season’s 6-9-2 record.
34 players will represent Australia in NCAA Division I women’s soccer this year, down one from 2016. With players spread as far north as New York and Connecticut all the way to Los Angeles and even Hawaii, you’re never far from a College Matilda if you’re in the US, and we take a look at each and every one of them in this comprehensive preview.
Claire Urquhart has had an interesting, albeit possibly frustrating, college career at Albany to this point. In each of her first two seasons, the Queenslander was afforded a couple of starts early in the campaign, but was then rarely seen throughout the remainder of the schedule. With previous coach Caitlin Cucchiella stepping down from college coaching altogether, a new coach may allow Urquhart more playing time as she heads into her penultimate college season. With just six natural defenders on the roster, and two of those being freshmen, Urquhart may even be thrown in the deep end from the outset as she becomes one of the more senior members of the defensive corps.
Lauren Featherstone (Freshman, Midfielder, Central Connecticut State, Sydney)
Following the likes of Erin Herd, Nikola Deiter and Leah Blayney, Lauren Featherstone continues the pathway between Australia and Central Connecticut State, joining as a freshman in 2017. An Australian Schoolgirls representative, Featherstone is a product of the Macarthur Rams program, one of the most successful NPL programs in New South Wales over recent years. Adept at fullback or in midfield, Featherstone’s versatility will no doubt serve her well as she looks to settle into the lineup at Central Connecticut State in her freshman year.
The lone remaining Australian at Colorado following Kahlia Hogg’s graduation, Isobel Dalton comes into her second season with the Buffaloes looking to make more of an impact than in her initial campaign. The former Brisbane Roar midfielder featured in seven matches in 2016, but averaged only 11 minutes per contest as the likes of star freshman Taylor Kornieck saw most of the available minutes not already allocated to the previous year’s starters. However, with minutes in midfield opening up following the graduation of a number of starters, Dalton will have a chance to fight for increased playing time in 2017.
Emma Heckenberg (Junior, Midfielder, Drexel, Melbourne)
A move from the frontline into a deeper position worked wonders for Emma Heckenberg in her sophomore season in 2016, with a spectacular transformation from fringe player to vital part of a Drexel side that reached the Colonial Athletic Association championship game before going down 3-0 to Northeastern. Heckenberg played in 19 of the Dragons’ 20 games, starting on 13 occasions. This allowed the Victorian to increase her playing time from a paltry 246 minutes in 2015 to a comparatively mind-boggling 1378 minutes in 2016. With the Dragons losing a couple of major pieces but returning even more, continuity may be key to another deep conference tournament run, with Heckenberg seemingly vital to these chances.
Isabel Hodgson (Junior, Midfielder, East Tennessee State, Adelaide)
A move out of the backline into a more advanced role worked wonders for Isabel Hodgson last year, culminating in five goals and a tie for team high with nine assists, including the opening goal of the Southern Conference championship game in which East Tennessee State eventually fell 2-1 to Samford to come agonisingly close to securing an NCAA Tournament berth. Hodgson had the most assists of any Australian in NCAA Division I last season, and also picked up the Breakout Player of the Year and Sophomore of the Year awards, and a share of the Midfielder of the Year award with Nicholls State senior Jess Coates. Hodgson is once again listed as a defender on the East Tennessee State roster, but if last season’s successes are anything to go by, the South Australian won’t be spending much time in the backline.
Sam Roff (Sophomore, Defender, Fairleigh Dickinson, Canberra)
Adept in either defence or as a holding midfielder, Sam Roff slotted straight into the Fairleigh Dickinson lineup as a freshman and enjoyed a quite outstanding first season in college. The former Canberra United training partner started 18 of the 19 games in which she played, and her defensive work saw the freshman named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team, a just reward for her work in a solid Fairleigh Dickinson defence. The Knights do lose one defensive starter from 2016 to graduation, meaning that Roff will pick up more responsibility in 2017, but it is a challenge that Roff has already shown glimpses of being capable of undertaking.
Priya Gakhar comes into the college ranks a little later than some players, joining Grambling State for her junior year. Primarily a reserve team player for Woden-Weston FC in the ACT National Premier League Women, Gakhar has also stepped up at times for the first team, and also has experience playing in the F-League futsal competition. In a shortened 11 game schedule last season, Grambling State managed just one win, and scored just eight goals, three of which came in their win over Alcorn State. Gakhar will be one player tasked with improving the team’s scoring output, especially as only one player who even scored a goal will be returning to the side in 2017.
Sandra Hill (Freshman, Defender, Grand Canyon, Canberra)
One of five freshman amongst the eight defenders on Grand Canyon’s roster in 2017, Sandra Hill will commence her college career with an immediate battle for a starting spot as the Antelopes head into their first season as a full member of NCAA Division I. A fairly regular fixture in Tuggeranong United’s NPL side over the last two seasons, Hill played alongside Nicholls State’s Kristy Helmers at club level, as well as former Sydney FC and Canberra United player Meg McLaughlin. Hill joins a team that has compiled seven wins in each of the past two seasons, so it is certainly becoming time for Grand Canyon to kick on and put together a 10 win season, especially now as the team is eligible for the postseason for the first time.
Kiri Dale (Sophomore, Midfielder, Hawaii, Mullumbimby)
Following two seasons at Iona, Kiri Dale has transferred to Hawaii for a challenge at a higher level, which she will certainly receive playing for the Rainbow Wahine. After redshirting her first season at Iona, Dale slotted straight into the lineup for the Gaels, starting in nearly every game of 2016. Earning that level of playing time will certainly be tougher in Honolulu, but Dale’s versatility as a defender with a certain attacking prowess may see her gain time in different positions throughout the season. However, that remains to be seen, and as is the case with any transfer student-athlete, there are a lot of questions that will be answered as the season progresses.
A mainstay for her first two seasons at Hofstra, Emily Hulbert’s junior season was unfortunately cut short due to injury. The former Melbourne Victory player played in 20 or more games in each of her first two seasons, but was restricted to just nine appearances in 2017. However, Hofstra compiled a 6-2-1 record with Hulbert on the pitch, a significant contrast to their rather indifferent 4-5 record whilst the Australian was out. Able to play either in defence or midfield and on either flank, Hulbert’s ability to get forward has seen her chip in three goals and an assist, including two game-winners, as she heads into her final season of college soccer.
Originally recruited by Hofstra before eventually choosing Texas for 2016, Monique Iannella has transferred to the Pride, where she will play alongside fellow Victorian, Emily Hulbert. Despite injury, Iannella enjoyed a relatively successful first college season, starting 12 of the 13 matches in which she played and tallying over 900 minutes of playing time as Texas finished with an 8-9-1 record in a perhaps slightly disappointing season for the Longhorns. Iannella now moves to Hofstra, where her presence will no doubt be cherished among a roster with just seven other recognised defenders, many of whom are likely to slot into the midfield at times.
Julia De Angelis (Sophomore, Midfielder, Indiana, Canberra)
Touted as one of the best Australian freshmen in 2016, Julia De Angelis has unfortunately suffered through a frustrating run of injuries since arriving at Indiana. The Young Matildas and Canberra United midfielder had the start of her college career delayed, but did manage to accumulate 15 appearances, albeit on apparently restricted minutes. Whilst on field though, De Angelis, looked right at home in the Big Ten, one of the premier conferences in NCAA Division I. However, yet another injury will see De Angelis miss out on playing this season after undergoing surgery in March.
Claudia Jenkins (Freshman, Goalkeeper, La Salle, Adelaide)
For a couple of years, there had been just one Australian goalkeeper in NCAA Division I: Georgia Rowntree. Last year, Teagan Micah doubled that number, and now Claudia Jenkins has made it a trio by joining La Salle University in Philadelphia. The former Adelaide United W-League player, who spent 17 games on the bench for the Lady Reds, has been ever-present for Fulham United in NPL South Australia over the last two seasons. Jenkins helped her side to a 2016 preliminary final appearance where they forced Adelaide City all the way to penalties, eventually going down 5-4 in the shootout. Jenkins was among a number of players with college experience in that side, including East Tennessee State’s Isabel Hodgson, former Colgate midfielder Dylan Holmes, and former Middle Tennessee State defender Nenita Burgess. Jenkins will have a challenge on her hands attempting to unseat redshirt senior goalkeeper Larisa Zambelli from the starting job at La Salle, but even if her freshman season is more of a learning experience, the South Australian will be in the box seat for a starting spot between the sticks going forward.
The lone Australian on a power conference team without W-League playing experience, Caitlin Cantrill nonetheless made her mark at LSU in her freshman season after training with Canberra United in previous years. The midfielder started the first four games of her college career and made 12 appearances in total, also picking up the first goal of her career against Julia De Angelis’ Indiana side, albeit in a game that De Angelis missed through injury. Cantrill will have to fight off the challenge of LSU’s handful of incoming freshman midfielders, but with a season of experience under her belt, the Canberran is certainly in the box seat to continue to receive playing time in her sophomore year.
Nyomi Devine (Senior, Defender, Murray State, Beaudesert)
The rock at the back for Murray State, Nyomi Devine has been a vital part of the Racers’ defence since her freshman season. From starting 13 of her 17 appearances in her freshman season, Devine started all 21 games in Murray State’s Ohio Valley Conference championship run in 2015 before 2016’s campaign was hindered slightly due to injury. As well as being an outstanding defender, Devine also added an attacking string to her bow in 2016. The Queenslander tallied the first assist of her career, whilst her only goal of the season – and her career to this point – was the game-winner against Tennessee-Martin. With 7 of her 11 shots for the season on target, her 64% clip is certainly a number worthy of any attacking player.
If Nyomi Devine is a defensive rock for the Racers, then Harriet Withers is an attacking weapon, and will be hoping to lead the line as the Racers look to atone for last year’s disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to SIU-Edwardsville in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament that cut their almost two-season long unbeaten streak at the worst possible time. An exceptional goalscorer, Withers has tallied 25 goals and 13 assists in her 58 games for the Racers to this point. A ten goal this season would not only cap an outstanding college career for Withers, but deliver the Palm Beach product the all-time goalscoring record for Murray State.
A five-sport athlete at St. Patrick’s College in Mackay, Tenille Harberger becomes the latest in what is becoming a long line of Australians to join Nicholls State. Aside from representing her school, Harberger has developed into a goalscoring midfielder in the Mackay regional competition, with 18 goals in her 22 appearances for Mackay Lions in 2016. Harberger will no doubt be hoping to pick up some of the minutes that have opened up following the graduation of fellow Australian Jess Coates, but there will be quite a fight for that spot amongst what is a young midfield corps for the Colonels.
An instant sensation at Nicholls State, Kristy Helmers comes into her sophomore season in Thibodaux on the back of an outstanding freshman year. The Canberra product was behind only fellow Australian Jess Coates in terms of attacking output, tallying six goals and five assists and starting all 16 of the Colonels’ games. Helmers received a share of the College Matildas Freshman of the Year award in 2016, and if she can handle the additional responsibility that will surely come her way following Coates’ graduation, she may just parlay that into a Sophomore of the Year award in 2017.
Gaby Bentley (Sophomore, Midfielder, Old Dominion, Adelaide)
Gaby Bentley was used sparingly in her first season at Old Dominion, and will certainly be hoping to increase her playing time in 2017. The former Adelaide United W-League midfielder featured in just two games in 2016, but was used far more in the team’s 2017 spring exhibition games, playing both in midfield and up front. A number of attacking options from the 2016 season have since graduated, leaving some playing time on the table, but Bentley will still have to fight off the challenge from the incoming freshmen if she is to pick up those additional minutes.
Lulu Pullar and Kahlia Hogg may be gone from the Pac-12’s Aussie contingent, but Melbourne City fullback Olivia Ellis has shored up the numbers by joining Oregon State. Whilst Ellis featured just twice for Melbourne City in her two seasons with the club, the young fullback featured 19 times for FC Bulleen in NPL Victoria in 2016 as the Lions finished third before going down to Geelong Galaxy United in the first week of the finals. Ellis was also involved with the Young Matildas at the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship, picking up two goals in the team’s 20-0 demolition of Timor-Leste’s full national team. With the Oregon State roster featuring just seven defenders, there will certainly be chances for Ellis to play, either as an immediate starter or off the bench, as Oregon State look to improve on last season’s 3-8 record in Pac-12 play, as well as their overall record of 8-10-2, their fifth consecutive season under .500.
After an extended stint on the sidelines in 2016 with yet another knee injury, Ellie Papalexiou returns for her senior year at Pacific desperate to make an impact on her final season in college soccer. Papalexiou’s freshman season saw her play in 17 games and become a vital part of the Tigers’ side, before injury cruelly struck the Palm Beach product down and forced her to miss the entire 2015 season. 2016 saw Papalexiou play seven games, before succumbing to injury for a second time. In her brief stints on the pitch, Papalexiou has exuded class, and it will now be a matter of putting that together for a full season for the first time since 2014 for the predominantly left-sided utility player.
Maddy Cornell (Senior, Defender, Southeast Missouri State, Nowra)
After starting her college career as a utility player who slotted in where required, Maddy Cornell has well and truly cemented her spot in the rotation up front for Southeast Missouri State heading into her final season. Cornell has played in 18 games in each of the last two seasons, and earned three starts in her junior year on her way to averaging 40 minutes per contest. Despite playing over 700 minutes, Cornell failed to find the back of the net in 2016, and this will be one facet in which she will need to improve if she is to increase that playing time yet again in 2017. Junior Lauren Kaempfe will lead the line for the Redhawks following the graduation of 12-goal striker Natasha Minor, but with Minor taking nearly half of the team’s goals with her, all of the forwards, including Cornell, will have to step up and take on more of the scoring load in 2017.
Shelby Milton (Sophomore, Defender, St. Francis, Wollongong)
After a year playing in NCAA Division II with St. Joseph’s in Indiana in 2015, Shelby Milton got out just in time as the university suspended operations earlier this year. Milton then transferred to St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, and hit the ground running with the Red Flash, making 19 appearances in her first season, and starting 9 games. Whilst the St. Francis defence was in the bottom half of the national rankings for goals conceded in 2016, they were certainly a young group last season. With a year of experience under their belts, they should see their defensive numbers improve this season and potentially improve on their 10-12 record from 2016.
Probably the most well-known of the Australian college players among the wider football community, Beattie Goad came to Stanford as a winger but reinvented herself as a fullback in the opening stages of her career with the Cardinal. Making her debut at left fullback, Goad was utilised on both sides of defence before making a move to a more attacking role later in the season for a Stanford side whose chances for a title were hindered by an injury to US national team midfielder Andi Sullivan and then extinguished by Santa Clara in a penalty shootout in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Victorian also picked up her first goal with literally the last kick of the regular season, tying a bow on a 4-1 win over arch rivals California. Having shown her ability to play in a number of positions, there will almost certainly be a spot for Goad somewhere after she made 10 starts in 21 appearances in 2016.
The reigning College Matildas Player of the Year, Paige Hayward was recently named to the All-SWAC preseason second team, a nod to her supreme goalscoring ability amongst all players in the conference. The Sydneysider banged home 13 goals in 2016, including a perfect five of five from the spot and three game-winning goals, as well as chipping in five assists in 19 appearancesto secure a spot in the All-SWAC Second Team. Alongside her College Matildas Player of the Year award, Hayward was also the top goalscorer amongst Australians, and was awarded Junior of the Year, Forward of the Year, and Most Consistent Player.
Demi Koulizakis returns to Lubbock in 2017 looking to make just as many appearances as she was able to in 2016, but perhaps turn those into more extended stints on the pitch. The former Sydney University forward featured 18 times for Texas Tech in her freshman year, but averaged only just over 20 minutes per contest despite starting on three occasions. In spite of this, things did start looking up for Koulizakis late in the season, as she played 47 minutes against TCU before rounding out the regular season with 69 minutes of playing time in a final day win over Oklahoma that clinched a Big 12 Tournament berth for the Red Raiders. The former Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player will now be aiming to ensure those extended outings become the norm, rather than the exception in 2017.
Teagan Micah came to UCLA seemingly set for a major battle for the starting goalkeeper berth at UCLA, but instead slotted seamlessly into the Bruins’ lineup, playing the whole season for a team that eventually went down to national runner-up West Virginia in a penalty shootout (that Micah didn’t take part in) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The freshman won two College Matildas awards for an outstanding season, earning a share of the Freshman of the Year award with Nicholls State’s Kristy Helmers, as well as a share of the Goalkeeper of the Year award with Wyoming’s Georgia Rowntree. Micah became the first true freshman to start a game for UCLA since 2004, and was also named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week three times in an outstanding first season in Westwood. Recently, Micah was an emergency call-up to the Matildas squad that won the Tournament of Nations against the United States, Japan, and Brazil, filling a spot on the bench for the 6-1 win over Brazil after regular starter Lydia Williams suffered an injury.
Kate Swartwout (Sophomore, Defender, Western Carolina, Gold Coast)
Gold Coast born but North Carolina raised, Kate Swartwout slotted straight into the lineup at Western Carolina, a college that could almost be considered local for the Lake Norman product. Swartwout featured in 16 games for a Catamounts side that finished with an 8-12 record, not flash by any means, but certainly something to build on in 2017. Although primarily a defender, Swartwout does have the ability to play in midfield, and did pop up with one assist last season, helping Western Carolina to a 3-2 win over Kennesaw State. Assists are nice, but Swartwout’s main focus is keeping the ball out of the net rather than putting it in the one at the other end.
Lorena Bugden (Freshman, Midfielder, William & Mary, Sydney)
William & Mary’s first Australian recruit since fellow Australian, Vanessa Mann, became assistant coach for the Tribe, Lorena Bugden arrives at Williamsburg with significant club experience. With a season of W-League experience at Western Sydney Wanderers under her belt, and two NPLNSW titles, one each with FNSW Institute and Sydney University, Bugden has carved out quite a career even at this early stage. Having played everywhere from fullback to up top, the freshman can certainly slot in wherever she is required, but will hopefully play in her preferred advanced midfield position. An Australian Schoolgirls representative and national youth team camp invitee, Bugden will certainly be one to watch this upcoming season.
Alisha Bass (Senior, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)
Whether it’s in the centre of defence, up front, or in behind the strikers as an attacking midfielder, Alisha Bass has been one of the standout players in the Mountain West Conference for the last few seasons. Having redshirted her first year at Laramie, this will be Bass’s fifth year with the Cowgirls, but the senior has long been one of the leaders of the team. Bass topped the Cowgirls in minutes played and assists in 2016, tallying four of the latter in addition to three goals, which included a stunning header with 10 seconds remaining in double overtime against Utah Valley. A highly technically adept player, Bass put nearly 60% of her shots on target last season to also lead Wyoming in that category.
Alisha Bass may be the creative force of the Wyoming attack, but Annika Clayton provides an industrious counterpoint in midfield for the Cowgirls. Ever-present in the middle of the park in her freshman season, 2016 was a slightly more stop-start campaign for the former Sydney University midfielder. Clayton was only able to garner one start in her 11 appearances as injury forced her to sit out at various times. However, Clayton was able to tally three assists for the season, which were enough for third in the team, and tallied a goal against Idaho State. With 2016’s injury problems hopefully behind her, 2017 looks to be far more promising for the Sydneysider.
An occasional starter but a regular fixture in the side, Jessie Gentle has carved out a position for herself within the Wyoming roster, being deployed in a number of positions over the last couple of years. Whether up front on the wing or in a fullback role, Gentle is now one of the mainstays of the Cowgirls’ lineup, playing 39 games over her first two seasons, 22 of those as part of the starting lineup. Although Gentle tallied just one goal last season, it was an important one: the game winner against Fresno State which earned Wyoming its first away win in conference play of the 2016 season.
Jemma House (Junior, Forward, Wyoming, Newcastle)
Already a star of college soccer in Wyoming after two emphatically successful years at Laramie County Community College, Jemma House has made the 50 mile journey to the state’s flagship university for the final two seasons of her college career. With 47 goals and 14 assists in 44 junior college games, House was a two-time All American at LCCC, and was also named to the NJCAA All-Tournament team in both 2015 and 2016. Now, House comes to Wyoming ready to fight for the chance to lead the line and potentially be on the end of some of the magical passes that fellow Australian Alisha Bass has delivered time and again for Cowgirls strikers over the last few seasons.
Georgia Rowntree came into the 2016 season fighting for a starting berth, but emerged as the primary option between the sticks for the entire season to play all but seven minutes of the season and also earn a share of the 2016 College Matildas Goalkeeper of the Year with UCLA’s Teagan Micah. Having started games since her freshman year, Rowntree sits firmly in the Wyoming top 10 lists for minutes played and career shutouts, and is also second all-time for goals against average. Her eight clean sheets in 2016 also set a single-season record for the Cowgirls, and the Sydneysider needs just four more to move into the top 3 all time for career shutouts at Wyoming. Although Rowntree will face competition from the other two goalkeepers in the Cowgirls’ squad, she certainly has the inside running at this point.