Week 1 Preview

Just the three games this week, as Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder) and Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey) get their seasons started. All three matches this week are exhibition fixtures and, as such, will not count towards season records, meaning there is plenty of scope for teams to tinker with lineups before the serious matches start.

(All dates and times in Sydney/Melbourne time)

Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder)

This Week: at Wofford – 9am, Monday August 11

This battle of 2013 conference semi-finalists sees Nicole Calder and Kennesaw State skip across the border to South Carolina to take on Southern Conference side Wofford College in an exhibition, looking to avenge the 3-0 loss they suffered to the Terriers in the corresponding fixture last season. Interestingly, Nicole Calder played GOALKEEPER for Kennesaw State in this match last season – hopefully playing in one of her more usual positions will see Nicole able to help the Owls to a win.

Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey)

This Week: at Lipscomb – 9am, Tuesday August 12; at Saint Louis – 8am, Thursday August 14

The only side to play two fixtures this week, Southeast Missouri State are playing two return fixtures from last season. First up, the Redhawks  travel to Tennessee to take on Lipscomb, a side they lost 1-2 to last season. Lipscomb have history facing Australians, being knocked off by Nicole Calder and Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun tournament first round, with Nicole getting the assist on the only goal. With this exhibition game not counting towards season records, expect Maddy Cornell and Bridget Sankey to see solid minutes as the Redhawks’ coaches evaluate their team. The team then moves closer to home, taking on University of Saint Louis on Thursday. Last season, this game was a home fixture for the Redhawks, and finished 0-0. Once again, this game could be an early opportunity for Cornell and Sankey to prove they are deserving of a regular starting berth this season.


2014 Player Previews

With 17 players representing 4 states and the ACT, this year’s College Matildas are definitely a diverse bunch. Take a look at our player previews – you may even recognise a couple from the W-League!

Shelbi Vienna-Hallam (Junior, Defender, Alabama State, Hobart)

Shelbi keeps the Australian flavour at Alabama State intact following Anastasia McCleary’s transfer to Creighton, moving to the Hornets after two successful years with Peninsula College in Washington. The first Tasmanian to play in Division I women’s soccer, Shelbi is a Tasmanian NTC graduate and won two conference titles whilst playing at the junior college level for Peninsula.

Kahlia Hogg (Junior, Defender, Colorado, Canberra)

A former Canberra United starlet, Kahlia has decided to link up with fellow Australian Alexandra Huynh at the University of Colorado after two seasons with ACC powerhouse Florida State. Kahlia made the decision to transfer after playing only 75 minutes last season, down from the 240 she played in her freshman year. Kahlia spent the off-season playing USL W-League for Colorado Rush, where she picked up a Team Of The Week spot in the opening week of the season.

Alexandra Huynh (Sophomore, Defender, Colorado, Sydney)

Alexandra stormed onto the scene in 2013 with Colorado, playing in all 23 games as the Buffaloes advanced to the national Sweet 16 before going down to eventual runner-up Florida State. A solid, versatile defender, Alexandra also tacked on three assists over the course of the season. Alexandra has spent the off-season playing in Australia with Marconi Stallions alongside Wyoming’s Candace Sciberras as well as the likes of Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy and W-League players Helen Petinos and Trudy Camilleri, which will no doubt have helped keep her sharp for the upcoming college season.

Anastasia McCleary (Junior, Forward, Creighton, Gold Coast)

After two years at Alabama State in which she quickly rose to prominence as the top player in the SWAC, Anastasia has decided to chase new challenges by transferring to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Despite interest from the University of Washington, McCleary decided that Creighton had won her heart and that it would be the place to continue her award-laden college career. Anastasia has an eye for goal, scoring 8 times in 38 games for Alabama State, but it is her ability to tee up her teammates that will have the Creighton program excited – she racked up 13 assists in her two years at Alabama State.

Nicole Calder (Senior, Defender/Midfielder, Kennesaw State, Adelaide)

A dominating presence in any defence, Nicole’s composure complements her ability to play either in a holding midfield role or at the centre of defence, not dissimilar to Clare Polkinghorne in that respect. Nicole is also well-known for her aerial ability, whether it be at attacking set-pieces or in defence. Nicole has popped up to score 6 goals in her 3 years at Kennesaw State, but it is the timing of her goals that is noteworthy – of those 6 goals, five were game winners.

Nyomi Devine (Freshman, Defender/Midfielder, Murray State, Gold Coast)

One half of the Palm Beach duo moving to Murray State, along with Harriet Withers, Nyomi is a solid defensive player with the ability to both break up opposition attacks and find a pass to launch a counter-attack. Nyomi has been almost ever-present in the starting lineup this season for a Palm Beach side sitting near the top of the Southeast Queensland Women’s Premier League table.

Harriet Withers (Freshman, Forward, Murray State, Gold Coast)

The third of the Palm Beach products to move to college this year, Harriet is a striker with all the tools required to make her mark at Murray State. Blessed with the kind of athleticism and speed that thrives in American soccer, Harriet also has an eye for goal, scoring 19 goals this season in the Southeast Queensland Women’s Premier League.

Jess Coates (Junior, Midfielder, Nicholls State, Sydney)

One of the standout players last season for Nicholls State, Jess starts her third season with the Colonels no doubt hoping to make more of a tangible impact than last season. Whilst Jess scored 5 goals on 36 shots last season, 3 of these goals came in the first game of the season, an 8-1 win over fellow Aussie Simone Arthur’s Southern University side. Jess also had two assists last season, a number she will want to improve as she becomes one of the leaders of this Nicholls State team.

Ellie Papalexiou (Freshman, Defender, Pacific, Gold Coast)

The first of the three Palm Beach products to commit to a school, Papalexiou’s commitment to Pacific was announced on National Signing Day. A pacy left back, Ellie is equally adept at playing higher up the pitch as a left winger. Also a dead ball specialist with an ability to put the ball on a sixpence, Ellie has all the attributes required to succeed in her four years at Pacific.

Jenna Collingridge (Junior, Midfielder, SE Missouri State, Cootamundra)

Cootamundra product Jenna has become one of the mainstays of the Southeast Missouri State side, playing in 16 games in each of her first two seasons with the Redhawks. After only two starts in her first 8 games in 2012, Jenna has gone on to start 19 of the last 26 games in which she has played, playing a majority of minutes in most games. Generally sitting in a deeper midfield role, Jenna’s impact has not shown in the stats, but has definitely been felt on the field.

Maddy Cornell (Freshman, Defender/Midfielder, SE Missouri State, Nowra)

A skilful yet assured player, Cornell joins Southeast Missouri State from NPLNSW Women’s 2 club Southern Branch as a player who may prefer to play on the left wing, but has the ability to play on either wing or at left back, and switch between these positions in a single game. Maddy’s versatility and ability to read a game, coupled with her technical ability, should see her right in the mix for a starting berth at Southeast Missouri State from the outset.

Bridget Sankey (Sophomore, Defender, SE Missouri State, Brisbane)

After playing in only 3 matches for the Redhawks last season, the Annerley FC (Brisbane) product will be hoping to make more of an impact this season in a Southeast Missouri State side that is slightly lacking in defensive numbers in comparison to previous seasons. Notably, in the 3 games and 85 minutes that Bridget played last season, the Redhawks did not concede a single goal.

Simone Arthur (Senior, Midfielder, Southern, Gold Coast)

After bouncing around Div II and junior college for her first two college seasons, 2014 will be Simone’s second season at Southern and her final college season. The lynchpin of the Southern midfield, Simone’s presence has coincided with an upturn in the side’s fortunes. Simone played in all 18 of the Jaguars’ games last season, starting 17, with a return of two goals and two assists as Southern reached the SWAC conference semi-finals, going down to Jackson State 2-1.

Lilly Rydon (Senior, Midfielder, UMBC, Adelaide)

Where to go for Lilly Rydon? 2 seasons ago, Lilly and UMBC finished rock bottom of the America East conference standings. Last season, they steamrolled the competition, finishing top of the standings and winning the conference tournament before narrowly being defeated by eventual semi-finalists Virginia Tech in the first round of the national tournament. On a personal level, Lilly scored her first collegiate goal last season, finishing with 3 for the year, as well as 2 assists in the 16 games she played.

Alisha Bass (Freshman, Midfielder, Wyoming)

Having been in and around W-League setups for three years, firstly at Sydney FC and then Western Sydney Wanderers, as well as being part of last year’s Young Matildas squad, Alisha definitely has the ability to succeed at the college level. After redshirting last season, Alisha performed well in the spring exhibition games earlier this year, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 over Division II Fort Lewis College.

Georgia Rowntree (Freshman, Goalkeeper, Wyoming, Sydney)

After serving as a backup to the likes of Thora Helgasdottir, Mackenzie Arnold, and Dimi Poulos at Western Sydney Wanderers for the past two seasons, Georgia will hope to compete for a starting berth at Wyoming in her freshman season. Wyoming does have a fairly settled goalkeeping hierarchy at the moment, but this will not dissuade the young Florida-born Sydneysider, who has previously captained the Australian schoolgirls side.

Candace Sciberras (Freshman, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

After redshirting last season, Candace will be looking to step straight into the Wyoming lineup this season. Yet another former Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player to move to Wyoming, Candace has spent the off-season playing alongside Alexandra Huynh at Marconi Stallions in NPLNSW Women’s 1 in preparation for the upcoming season.

2014 Season Preview

Welcome to the inaugural season of College Matildas! This year, 17 Australians will be playing in NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer, slightly down on the 20 that played in 2013. Of these 17, 5 players are completely new to the US college scene: Ellie Papalexiou (Pacific), Harriet Withers (Murray State), Nyomi Devine (Murray State), Maddy Cornell (Southeast Missouri State), and Georgia Rowntree (Wyoming). Of these five, Papalexiou, Withers, and Devine have all moved from the same club in Australia: Palm Beach Sharks on the Gold Coast. A further two, Alisha Bass and Candace Sciberras (both Wyoming) will play their first college games this season after redshirting in 2013, whilst Shelbi Vienna-Hallam (Alabama State) will move up from the junior college ranks after two seasons at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington.

At the other end of the scale, we have three seniors looking to go out with a bang in their final seasons in the college game. Lilly Rydon and her UMBC side will be looking to emulate last season’s heroic performance which saw them dominate the America East conference on their way to a national tournament berth. Down in Georgia, Nicole Calder and Kennesaw State will be looking to take that next step and earn a tournament berth of their own after last season’s semifinal appearance in the Atlantic Sun tournament.

Simone Arthur’s final season in college soccer will be her second at Southern University after spending her first two seasons in Division II and junior college, and whilst their have been some severe administrative issues surrounding Southern lately which have culminated in a postseason ban for all sports at the university, these should be cleared up in time for the women’s soccer team to play in the postseason and hopefully do better than last year’s SWAC tournament semifinal loss to Jackson State.

But it’s not all freshmen and seniors in the College Matildas ranks. At Colorado, former Western Sydney Wanderers defender Alexandra Huynh enjoyed a stellar freshman year in 2013, and this year will be joined by junior transfer Kahlia Hogg, who moves to Boulder in search of more playing time after two seasons at Florida State.

At Southeast Missouri State, freshman Maddy Cornell should be able to slot right in as there are two other Australians already at the Redhawks: Jenna Collingridge, a junior who has enjoyed a starting role for much of her time in the team, and sophomore Bridget Sankey, who will be looking to break into the starting side after playing in just three games in 2013.

Jess Coates has been a solid player in her first two seasons at Nicholls State, establishing herself as an integral part of the side’s attack. The Colonels won 9 of their first 11 games last season, but fell away slightly in conference play and a postseason loss to Sam Houston State ended their season after they looked as if they might be a contender for the Southland title earlier in the year.

Anastasia McCleary has been a dominant force in the SWAC for her first two seasons, so it’s not altogether surprising to see her transferring to a bigger school, in the form of Creighton University in Omaha. Creighton became a member of the “new” Big East last season, a major step-up from their former home, the Missouri Valley Conference. McCleary will be fresh off a season playing WPSL club soccer for Issaquah SC, an affiliate club of the NWSL’s Seattle Reign. This should see Anastasia come into the season fully fit and ready to make her mark on both Creighton and the conference.

We do unfortunately have one player leaving Division I early this year. Loren Mahoney has left Wyoming and will be spending her senior year at University of Mary in North Dakota. Good luck to Loren, and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her in her final season of college soccer.

The season starts on August 11, with Nicole Calder and Kennesaw State travelling to South Carolina to take on Wofford College to kick off a four month adventure that hopefully culminates in a stack of Aussies playing in the NCAA tournament!

Summer Soccer Update #7

An undefeated week for the Aussies involved also saw a couple of players amongst the goals as 5 players across three teams managed a win and two draws.

Starting in the States, and whilst Colorado Rush played twice over the weekend, racking up 6-1 and 5-1 wins over Santa Clarita and Sedona FC respectively, but Kahlia Hogg played in neither game. Also missing this weekend was Georgia Rowntree, who was absent from Sydney Uni’s 1-0 loss to NWS Koalas.

Moving onto the players that actually made the field, and Maddy Cornell and Southern Branch kept in touch with the NPLNSW Women’s 2 top four by managing a 2-2 draw with fourth-placed UNSW Lions. Meanwhile, in NPLNSW Women’s 1, Candice Sciberras played for Marconi as they also managed a 2-2 draw, against Illawarra Stingrays. The result leaves Marconi in 8th place, but now only 3 points adrift of 5th place.

The result of the round, however, definitely belonged to the Palm Beach trio of Harriet Withers, Nyomi Devine, and Ellie Papalexiou, who produced their best performance of the season as they triumphed 6-0 over Redlands. Ellie scored a goal, whilst Harriet smashed home a hat-trick to cap a brilliant day for Palm Beach.

Moving forward, and Candice Sciberras and Marconi have an incredibly tough matchup this weekend, taking on league leaders Macarthur Rams. Marconi have given the Rams problems earlier in the season, but this will still be a hard game for the side in sky blue. Staying in NPLNSW Women’s 1, Georgia Rowntree and Sydney Uni will be looking to use their game against last-placed Blacktown Spartans to their advantage and try to move closer to a top 4 spot. Blacktown unfortunately lost star striker Jenna Kingsley to an ACL injury in last Thursday’s midweek match, but the Spartans still troubled Macarthur Rams last Sunday, leading 1-0 before going down 3-1, so Sydney Uni will still need to be on top form.

Looking at NPLNSW Women’s 2, Maddy Cornell and Southern Branch take on bottom team Northern Tigers. Southern Branch have already won one of their previous encounters with the Tigers 6-0 and will be hoping to produce a similar performance on Sunday.

Up in Queensland, Palm Beach and their trio of future freshmen will be hoping to replicate this weekend’s performance against Olympic FC, whilst in the Brisbane Premier League, Amy Armistead and Souths United take on second placed Eastern Suburbs in a tough matchup.

On the other side of the Pacific, Kahlia Hogg and Colorado Rush face a solid Seattle Sounders team in their first match of the weekend, before taking on Sedona FC in their second match of the weekend. The Rush are finishing the season strongly and should pick up a win against Sedona, whilst taking points off Seattle is not out of the question. Speaking of Seattle, Anastasia McCleary and Issaquah get back on the field this week, taking on Fuerza FC before playing their two matches against local rivals AC Seattle on Friday and Tuesday.

Summer Soccer Update #6

With a range of byes and cancelled matches this week, only three players managed to get onto the field this week, but there was more than a pinch of good news for some of the players that did get to play.

Starting in the US, Anastasia McCleary and Issaquah were scheduled to play Westside Timbers, but the game was unfortunately cancelled due to a lack of available officials. Kahila Hogg’s Colorado Rush side managed an upset 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders, a result that moves Seattle within one loss of failing in their chase for top spot, but Kahlia was not named in the squad.

In Queensland, Amy Armistead and Souths United had the bye in the Brisbane Premier League this week, whilst Ellie Papalexiou, Nyomi Devine, and Harriet Withers enjoyed a league-wide week off as Palm Beach await their first second phase match of the SEQWPL season.

Moving to New South Wales, and Georgia Rowntree was unfortunately stuck on the bench yet again as Sydney Uni went down 1-0 to Macarthur Rams. Elsewhere in NPLNSW Women’s 1, Alex Huynh and Candace Sciberras were part of the Marconi side that notched up a 2-1 win over Northbridge to close the gap between the two teams to three points. Alex scored the opener for Marconi, burying the ball into the bottom corner of the net from a corner. This was Alex’s last game for Marconi this season before returning to Colorado, and her presence in the side will be hard to replace for the rest of the season.

NPLNSW Women’s 2 didn’t provide such great news, as Maddy Cornell was part of the Southern Branch team that went down 1-0 to Inter Lions, dropping her side to fifth place.

Looking forward to this week, the Palm Beach trio of Ellie Papalexiou, Harriet Withers, and Nyomi Devine face Redlands as the SEQWPL kicks off its second phase of the competition. Meanwhile, in the Brisbane Premier League, Amy Armistead and Souths United take on second placed Eastern Suburbs.

Moving to NPLNSW Women’s 1, Georgia Rowntree and Sydney Uni can jump opponents NWS Koalas for 4th place with a win, whilst Candace Sciberras and Marconi take on Illawarra Stingrays, needing a win to keep in touch with the teams chasing a finals spot. In NPLNSW Women’s 2, Maddy Cornell and Southern Branch also need a win to keep pace with the finals as they take on UNSW Lions, and a loss could see a 7 point gap wedged between themselves and 4th position.

Over in the States, Kahlia Hogg and Colorado Rush have a two game weekend, taking on Santa Clarita Blue Heat and Sedona FC Strikers in two eminently winnable games for the Rush as they try to finish the season on a high note. Meanwhile, in WPSL, Anastasia McCleary and Issaquah have this weekend off – their next game comes on July 9 against Fuerza FC before taking on AC Seattle on July 11.

Murray State Sign Palm Beach Duo

Two more Australians will be making their college debuts this season, with Murray State signing Palm Beach pair Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine. Harriet and Nyomi join Ellie Papalexiou as Palm Beach players moving to college in 2014, with Creighton junior Anastasia McCleary making a total of four ex-Palm Beach players playing in college.

Harriet is known as a speedy forward, and her pace and finishing abilities have terrorised defences throughout the South-East Queensland Women’s Premier League this season, scoring 16 goals in 12 games to sit fourth in the league top goalscorers list, and the top scorer without W-League experience. Nyomi plays in a deeper midfield role, with ability to break up opposition attacks and also launch moves forward from her own team, and has also tallied a single goal in her 13 games for Palm Beach this season.

Both players, as well as Ellie Papalexiou, will remain with Palm Beach until early August, where they will be hoping to leave the Sharks in good stead for the final weeks of the SEQWPL season as they leave for the US three weeks before their club season ends.

With Murray State playing against Southeast Missouri State in the Ohio Valley Conference, this means Harriet and Nyomi will come up against three other Aussies, with Maddy Cornell, Jenna Collingridge, and Bridget Sankey playing for the Redhawks. Their sole regular season matchup this year will be a home game for Southeast Missouri State on October 5.

Summer Soccer Update #5

It was just one of those weeks for the offseason Aussies this week. Whilst it wasn’t a bad week by any stretch, with 5 wins shared between the players, there were a couple of draws and losses that could just have easily gone in a more positive direction. Still, there’s plenty to be positive about, so let’s get started.

Starting in Queensland and the SEQWPL, Ellie Papalexiou and Palm Beach came up against a well-organised Peninsula Power team, but managed a 2-1 victory to keep them in touch with the league leaders. Meanwhile, in the Brisbane Premier League, Amy Armistead and Souths United managed a 3-1 win against Mitchelton to move away from the lower teams and within seven points of the mid-table pack.

South of the Tweed, Maddy Cornell and Southern Branch ran Central Coast Mariners Academy all the way to the final whistle in a 3-2 loss against the runaway league leaders. In a fairer world, this is not the kind of performance that would drop a team down a position, but the football world isn’t known for its fairness, and Southern Branch dropped from 4th to 5th.

Alex Huynh and Candace Sciberras were part of the Marconi Stallions side that punched above its weight in a 0-0 draw with 3rd place North West Sydney Koalas, leaving Marconi three points behind 7th placed Illawarra Stingrays but with a game in hand.

Georgia Rowntree was back on the team sheet for Sydney Uni after a prolonged forced stint on the sidelines, but remained on the bench for Sydney Uni’s 1-0 win over second placed Manly United.

Moving to the US, Anastasia McCleary and Issaquah had a two game home stand over the weekend, winning 5-1 over Eugene Timbers, before following that up with a win over Westside Timbers the next day to move back into the lead of WPSL’s Northwest Division. Meanwhile, in the USL W-League, Kahlia Hogg played the final 20 minutes for Colorado Rush, but the side went down 3-1 to LA Blues, who are still yet to drop a point in the Western Conference. This was followed by a 1-0 loss to Bay Area Breeze, a game in which Kahlia played the last 13 minutes. The weekend’s results leave the Rush in 6th place in the Western Conference as the sides turn for home.

Looking forward to this weekend, Amy Armistead and Souths United have a bye this weekend. Staying in Queensland, the SEQWPL split in two for its second phase of competition, and Ellie Papalexiou and Palm Beach will play in the top section, but have a week off this week before starting next week against Redlands.

Moving to NSW, Georgia Rowntree and Sydney Uni take on league leaders Macarthur Rams in NPLNSW1. The Rams have slipped up a couple of times in the last few weeks, but got back on track with a 1-0 win last week, and Sydney Uni will need to be at their best to keep pace with Macarthur. The pairing of Alex Huynh and Candace Sciberras and their Marconi side have a two-game week this week, taking on FNSW Institute tomorrow night at Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre, before taking on Northbridge at home on Sunday. Meanwhile, in NPLNSW2, Maddy Cornell and Southern Branch take on 3rd placed Inter Lions on Sunday in a match that could see Southern move ahead of the Lions due to a vastly superior goal difference.

Over in the States, Kahlia Hogg and Colorado Rush have a tough matchup against Seattle Sounders Women on Friday night (Seattle time), who currently sit third in the Western Conference. The Rush may be out of playoff contention, but they have the potential to be of major nuisance value to the teams chasing a playoff berth. Meanwhile, in WPSL, Anastasia McCleary and Issaquah will look to make it three wins on the trot as they play Westside Timbers, the same team they hosted in their last start win. A win for Westside would see them jump Issaquah for first place, but a win for Issaquah would see them potentially open up a six point gap at the top, although third placed AC Seattle have a game in hand.