(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 NCAA berth.
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 process.
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 seasons.