2019 Forward Previews

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.

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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.

Sophie 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.

Tessa 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.

Sarah 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.

Kristy 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 Thibodaux.

Demi 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.

Shauni 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.

Reloading: Six Aussie attackers set for breakout seasons

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.

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.

Demi Koulizakis: Most Improved, but more to come

Fresh off a trip to the NCAA Tournament and winning Texas Tech’s Most Improved Player award, Demi Koulizakis is back in Sydney for the Australian summer. We took the opportunity to catch up with the Red Raiders junior to get some insight into the 2018 season and what the future holds for the former Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player.

College Matildas: You came into this season having not started since early 2016 and only averaged 11 minutes per game last season. Did you have any concerns about how much playing time you would get?

Umm, not really because I came in pretty prepared, so like, I worked really hard. So, I knew I was going to get way more game time, and my coach reassured me of that as well. I was kind of injured in spring season, I rolled my ankle a few times so that was a setback. But when I was back here, I played for Sutherland and I was playing full game time there, played a few 90-minute games before I went back to America, and that helped me a lot.

You played more minutes in the first game of this season than you had in any game last season. How much confidence did that give you for the rest of the season? 

Yeah, it did, for sure. As I said, I started off really well in the pre-season, so that helped me. 

You scored your first college goal this season – a cracker against Florida International.

*laughs* About time! 

Take us through that goal.

Well, one of the defenders on my team, she played a through ball over, I saw her put her hand up so I ran onto it and then I had it on my right foot, I quickly put it on my left and shot into the top right-hand corner…it was pretty good. 

What did it mean to finally get your first college goal?

It was awesome, because my mum was there as well. So having my mum watch me, and my best friends, it was awesome. 

You earned your first start in two years against West Virginia. When did you find out you’d be starting? 

The day before, actually. It was pretty intense, it was scary because West Virginia are one of the top teams, well they were, they made the final two years ago. It was honestly an unreal feeling. 

How did they tell you? Was it one-on-one or did you just get a team list and you were on it? 

Yeah, I got told one-on-one on the morning of the game. My coach sent me a message, saying this is your chance to prove yourself and make a difference, which was really nice.

CM: How did you react?

Oh, I was pumped, for sure. It pumped me up.

What do you see as your role in the team?

As my coach says, I feel like I’m a game-changer, if that makes sense. An impact player. I mean, I want to be starting, but I have to work hard for that to happen.

You played 100 minutes against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, and with seven seniors in this season’s team, do you feel that next season is your big chance?

Yeah, I’d say that is my big chance, because we’re losing a lot of players. So, I just have to be better and work harder to get a spot, because nobody’s spot is secured.

CM: The team reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament and took Virginia to penalties. Is there a sense that the team could maybe have gone further? You would have played Baylor in the next round, a team you took to overtime in the Big 12 Tournament.

100%. There’s no way Baylor would have beaten us three times. The second time, honestly, they were probably lucky to get the win; we went into extra time with them.

CM: Does that result against Virginia give you more drive to push on for next season?

Oh, 100%. We’re still a fresh program that’s building up; Virginia’s been there a long time – they’ve had so many NCAA Tournament appearances and everything. We’re just going year-by-year, hoping to get better.

CM: You missed a penalty in the shootout in that game…

Yep. Yeah, I did.

CM: Talk us through walking up to the spot…

I honestly was off from the first second. I was so tired. I hadn’t played 100 minutes in such a long time. I was walking up to the spot and then in the corner of my eye I saw all the Baylor girls – because they were playing after us – walk up to the back of the goal to watch me take my penalty, and then I was off from that second. Then I went to take the penalty, the keeper dove my way, I tried to miss her, and then it just went out wide.

CM: A bit like Mark Viduka against Uruguay in 2005?

*laughs* Yeah, pretty much; even the best miss sometimes!

CM: You won Most Improved Player for Texas Tech, but you weren’t even at the ceremony. How did you find out that you’d won? 

So, my teammates were telling me, most of them were saying that they’d voted for me. I pretty much found out when one of my teammates Facetimed me and told me. I was like, ‘Oh cool, thanks!’

CM: What are you doing to prepare for the coming season?

Working very hard! Training every day, doing the right things, trying to eat healthy, all the good stuff, you know? 

Will you be playing in Australia during your break?

In May, I will be. I’ll be playing (NPLNSW) for Sydney Olympic, hopefully getting some game time there, and preparing myself for the upcoming season.

CM: You played a little bit for Sydney Uni after your freshman year, and a bit more for Sutherland after last season. What difference did you notice coming back to America having gotten more game time playing for Sutherland?

I just felt like I improved as a player, I got more touches on the ball, it helped me with everything. My fitness is the best it’s been since I got to college.

CM: Do you feel like you get a head-start over players who don’t play in the off-season?

So, there’s a lot of girls who stay in America during summer, stay on campus and train with the coaches, but I feel it’s not much of an advantage compared to playing here. They don’t get many touches on the ball, and match fitness is a big thing.

CM: You’re coming up to your senior season. Have you thought about where you want to play after college? 

Honestly, I want to play in Europe somewhere, that’d be really cool.

CM: Do you have a European passport? 

I can get one. I need to go and apply for it!

CM: Is there any particular country you’d like to go to? 

Probably Sweden. Sweden looks pretty cool. There’s two girls that are Texas Tech alumni that played in Sweden that told me about it and they said it’s pretty cool.

CM: You’ve had three years’ experience in college. What advice would you give to young players thinking about college?

I feel like they should take the opportunity, because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get to play soccer, study as well, get a good degree at the end of it. It’s honestly such a good experience overall.

CM: A lot of players say that if they play in the W-League or NPL, that’s always going to be there, they can always come back and try that. But college, you’ve only got those four or five years to have the opportunity to play. Is that something you agree with? 

100%. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I was so iffy about leaving my family and my parents, but I didn’t want to have a regret, you know? If I went there, and I didn’t like it, I could just come back. Then at least I’d tried it.

2018 End Of Season Wrap

(Featured Image Credit: University of Wyoming Media Relations)

As was the case in 2017, we saw 30 Australians take to the pitch in NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer this season. Although the season didn’t end with a national champion for the first time in three years, there was still no shortage of players enjoying outstanding campaigns in a thoroughly entertaining 2018, with both familiar faces and new stars putting on a show.

(33 Australians were on rosters at the end of the season. However, Caitlin Cantrill, Laura Farrelly, and Grace Watson-Carr did not feature this season and as such are not featured below.) 

Indianna Asimus (Wyoming)
Team Record:
12-4-4 (Mountain West Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 20 games, 9 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

Indianna Asimus enjoyed a solid first college season. (Photo Credit: University of Wyoming Media Relations)

Indianna Asimus may have been the lesser used of the four Australians on the Wyoming roster, but nonetheless the freshman had enough of an impact for the Cowgirls to suggest that her playing time will increase going forward. Asimus started each of the final five games of the season, and although the freshman didn’t manage a goal, she did rattle off seven shots in the final two games. That alone is evidence in itself that Asimus found herself in good positions, which will serve her well over the next three seasons, particularly as she looks to snag one of the positions left by the six graduating seniors from the 2017 team.

Gaby Bentley (Old Dominion)
Team Record:
8-7-4 (Conference USA Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 14 games, 2 goals, 0 assists

An impact player off the bench for much of the season, Gaby Bentley may not have started every game but gave just as much as many of the starters for an Old Dominion side that once again found itself in the Conference USA Tournament before being knocked out in the quarter-finals for the third consecutive season. Although her general play was solid throughout the season, Bentley also doubled her scoring output from last season, tallying two goals for the season. With a number of midfielders graduating after the 2018 season, Bentley may just find herself in the starting lineup on a more regular basis in her senior year. 

Lorena Bugden (William & Mary)
Team Record:
6-10-1
Stats: 5 games, 1 start, 0 goals, 0 assists

Having spent her first season at William & Mary recovering from injury, new issues plagued Lorena Bugden in her sophomore year with the Tribe, culminating in just five appearances in a tough season on both a personal level and for the team. Under a new coach for the 2018 campaign, Bugden earned a start in one of her appearances, but the injury problems curtailed what could have been a promising season that may have set the sophomore up for the next couple of seasons at William & Mary. As it is, Bugden will have to hit the ground running in 2019 in order to put together the kind of season she is capable of producing.

Jodie Burchell (Towson)
Team Record:
4-12-3
Stats: 14 games, 7 starts, 1 goal, 0 assists

Freshman Jodie Burchell took a while to establish herself in the Towson side, but once she did, she latched onto her spot and eventually entrenched herself as a member of the starting lineup. Despite playing just 14 games, all of Burchell’s seven starts came in the last eight games of the season. Although the freshman came up with only a single goal in her 485 minutes on the pitch, Burchell was able to fashion chances on occasion, finishing with 10 shots for the season in a solid first campaign in college soccer.

Tessa Calabria (Nicholls State)
Team Record:
3-15-0
Stats: 6 games, 1 start, 0 goals, 1 assist

Although it was a disappointing season for Nicholls State, things began promisingly for Tessa Calabria, starting her first game and playing more than hour in two of her first three appearances before picking up an assist against Alcorn State in the first game of September. However, that would be the last time the junior college transfer would feature in 2018, as injury reared its ugly head and forced the South Australian out for the remainder of the season. However, Calabria will return next season and the Colonels could certainly use her presence as despite scoring 17 goals, 7 of those came from senior Francesca Curteis, and that production will need to be replaced if the team is to improve on this season’s three wins.

Sarah Clark (Chicago State)
Team Record:
0-16-1
Stats: 8 games, 4 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

Sarah Clark’s first season in Division I after two successful seasons at Lassen Community College looked promising as the Queenslander made four starts in her first eight appearances for the struggling Cougars. However, Clark’s season ended prematurely after those eight appearances, which spelled trouble for a Chicago State side that could have used all the help it could get as a winless streak dating back to August 2018 continued throughout the season, reaching 33 games.

Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Team Record:
12-4-4 (Mountain West Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 20 games, 20 starts, 4 goals, 2 assists 

Wyoming needed a leader in midfield following Alisha Bass’s graduation after the 2017 season, and Annika Clayton stepped up to fill the void left by her fellow Australian superbly. Four goals and two assists certainly comprised a tidy return for the midfielder, but statistics alone do not paint the picture of Clayton’s importance to her team. Whether pulling the strings in midfield with her passing or making a marauding run forward, the midfielder’s ability to impact the game in a number of ways was vital to the Cowgirls securing a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title and finishing with 12 wins and 4 draws in their 20 games. Clayton also received a Mountain West All-Conference Second Team nomination for her performances throughout the season, just reward for an outstanding campaign.

Kiri Dale (Hawaii)
Team Record:
9-6-1
Stats: 16 games, 12 starts, 0 goals, 2 assists

Kiri Dale enjoyed another solid season for Hawaii, settling into a position in the starting lineup for the majority of the campaign. The Rainbow Wahine narrowly missed out on their first conference tournament berth, but nonetheless even being in contention represented a vast improvement on their dismal league finishes since moving to the Big West in 2012. Dale finished the season with three complete-game performances in among several other high-minute games, tallying a pair of assists for the season as well as 9 shots in her second season at Hawaii but her first with fellow Australian and College Matildas legend Rachael Doyle as part of the coaching staff.

Isobel Dalton (Colorado)
Team Record:
13-4-3
Stats: 12 games, 0 starts, 0 goals, 1 assist

As has been the case for the majority of Isobel Dalton’s time at Colorado, the senior midfielder found herself just outside the regular rotation of players throughout the season, limiting both her appearances and playing time. However, despite a lack of opportunities, Dalton was still able to exhibit her class in midfield and come up with the occasional memorable moment, including a scintillating pass that split the Oregon State defence for the final assist of the senior’s college career. Having played in both the W-League and the English Women’s Super League before heading to college, Dalton’s next move will be one to watch if the former Brisbane Roar player does choose to extend her footballing career.

Lauren Featherstone (North Dakota State)
Team Record:
9-7-0 (Summit League Semi-Finals)
Stats: 10 games, 2 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

Seeking a fresh start at North Dakota State after redshirting her only season at Central Connecticut State in 2017, Lauren Featherstone had what could only be termed as a frustrating year as injury conspired to limit the redshirt freshman to just 10 games. When she actually got the chance to play, Featherstone looked at home for North Dakota State, earning two starts before enduring a three-week break midway through the season and eventually being limited to mere minutes on the pitch by the end of the campaign. However, if Featherstone can overcome her injury problems, the Macarthur Rams product can certainly become an integral part of the North Dakota State lineup going forward.

Jessie Gentle (Wyoming)
Team Record: 12-4-4 (Mountain West Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 20 games, 20 starts, 1 goal, 3 assists

Alongside classmate and fellow Aussie Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle has been an integral member of the Wyoming lineup for much of her time in Laramie, and nothing about that changed in 2018 as the senior terrorised opposing wide players both in attack and defence. Like Clayton, Gentle started every game for the Cowgirls in 2018 as the experienced Wyoming side put together the first 12-win season in program history whilst also securing a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title. A dynamic combination of athleticism and skill led a number of outstanding performances for Wyoming, culminating in a career-high three assists for the season and a second goal of the senior’s career, which came alongside an assist in a 3-1 win over Colorado College.

Beattie Goad (Stanford)
Team Record:
21-1-1 (Pac-12 Champions, NCAA College Cup Semi-Finals)
Stats: 24 games, 9 starts, 2 goals, 3 assists

Beattie Goad has become an integral part of the Stanford side. (Photo Credit: Stanford Athletics)

Beattie Goad has seen decent playing time throughout her time at Stanford during what could only be termed as a golden era for the program, but this season saw the junior’s impact on the side become far more significant. Starting the first five games of the season as injuries opened up a spot, Goad started 9 of her 24 appearances and finished with multiple goals and assists in a season for the first time in her career. Whilst Stanford may have fallen short of repeating as champions after a 2-0 loss to eventual champions Florida State in the College Cup semi-finals, Goad’s season could only be termed as a successful one as she proved herself to be an integral part of one of the best teams in college soccer.

Tenille Harberger (Nicholls State)
Team Record:
3-15-0
Stats: 3 games, 0 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

Having redshirted her first year at Nicholls State in 2017, Tenille Harberger finally saw her first playing time for the Colonels this year, seeing limited playing time in three games in what was a tough season in general for the team. The midfielder from Mackay was afforded just 21 minutes of playing time in those three appearances, and will no doubt be hoping to increase that playing time in her junior year in 2019 as Nicholls State look to improve on their three wins this season.

Emma Heckenberg (Drexel)
Team Record:
7-7-5 (CAA Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 18 games, 16 starts, 0 goals, 4 assists

Rarely has a player appeared more willing to do whatever is required to get her team a win than Emma Heckenberg, and that has served the senior well. Heckenberg saw 16 starts in her final year of college soccer, the most of any of her four years at Drexel. Ready and willing to slot in wherever required, Heckenberg carved out a spot as a vital member of the backline with a handy ability to deliver a set-piece, much like Monique Iannella at Hofstra. That set-piece ability delivered four assists, with two of those coming in a 2-1 over St. Joseph’s and another on the game-winner in a victory over Charleston. Whilst Heckenberg was never a player that received massive plaudits, replacing a player of her ilk will prove no small task for Drexel in 2019. 

Kristy Helmers (Nicholls State)
Team Record:
3-15-0
Stats: 18 games, 4 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

After a solid first couple of seasons that saw Kristy Helmers regularly start for Nicholls State, 2018 saw the Canberra product come off the bench in the vast majority of her appearances in a side that struggled for goals for much of the season. Helmers started just four games and rarely played more than half a game, resulting in a diminished return of just two goals after scoring three in 2017 and six in her freshman year of 2016. However, those two goals were good enough for second-highest on a Nicholls State team that scored just 17 and saw 7 of those come from one player. 

Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
Team Record:
6-13-2 (WAC Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 15 games, 9 starts, 1 goal, 0 assists

Fresh off making her debut with the Cambodian national team during the off-season, Sandra Hill returned to Grand Canyon for her sophomore year and made a similar impact to what she had done in 2017. Hill certainly looks to have benefitted from having a year under her belt, looking far more composed on the pitch in 2018, and also managed to pick up her first collegiate goal with an absolute worldie in her side’s WAC Tournament quarter-final loss to Utah Valley. After starting 9 of her 15 games in 2018, Hill will no doubt be hoping to ensure that both of those numbers sit closer to 20 in her junior season, and if her development continues, there is no reason that can’t happen. 

Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)
Team Record:
8-12-0 (Southern Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 20 games, 19 starts, 4 goals, 1 assist

Isabel Hodgson will be tough to replace for ETSU. (Photo Credit: Dakota Hamilton/ETSU Athletics)

A star of the East Tennessee State side from the moment she stepped on the field in Johnson City, Isabel Hodgson once again enjoyed an outstanding season, finishing the 2018 season as the program’s record holder for total appearances. Despite playing a defensive role for the Buccaneers, Hodgson was still able to tally 4 goals and 2 assists, her best return since the 2016 campaign in which the South Australian was utilised in an attacking position, to help her team to a Southern Conference semi-final berth as East Tennessee State atoned for a poor non-conference season by finishing third in the league table. Hodgson has already made her next career move, signing with Adelaide United for the remainder of the W-League season, joining other Australian former college players Laura Johns, Dylan Holmes, and Kahlia Hogg.

Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Team Record: 16-6-1 (CAA Champions, NCAA Tournament Second Round)
Stats: 23 games, 21 starts, 1 goal, 5 assists

The only thing more lethal than Monique Iannella’s defensive presence is her ability to whip in a pinpoint ball from a corner, and the senior demonstrated both with aplomb to help lead Hofstra to a second consecutive CAA title and another NCAA Tournament appearance. In a side teeming with international players, Iannella was just one of many imports playing a vital role as the Pride rolled through the CAA Tournament before demolishing Boston College in an upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Interestingly, although Iannella’s ability from a corner is renowned, the majority of her assists came in other ways, proving her versatility as a player. Three of these came in one game against Towson, all of which came from open play as the former Melbourne City followed up 2017’s six assists with five more in her senior year. 

Claudia Jenkins (La Salle)
Team Record:
8-8-1
Stats: 17 games, 17 starts, 5 clean sheets, 1.248 GAA, 0.788 save percentage 

Claudia Jenkins has been La Salle’s saviour on many occasions. (Photo Credit: Greg Carroccio / Sideline Photos)

After spending the 2017 as backup to senior Larisa Zambelli, Claudia Jenkins made the goalkeeper position her own in 2018, proving to be a more-than-reliable option between the sticks for La Salle. Jenkins’ save percentage and goals against average numbers put her in the top half of goalkeepers in the nation, but those numbers could have been far better if not for an early-season flurry of penalties and own goals that at times left the sophomore on a hiding to nothing. Forced to make almost five saves per game, Jenkins stood tall in a tough season for La Salle, who came back to the pack in a massive way after winning the conference title last season as the Explorers looked to replace three defensive starters who had graduated after the 2017 season. 

Demi Koulizakis (Texas Tech)
Team Record: 14-5-3
Stats: 21 games, 2 starts, 1 goal, 0 assists

Demi Koulizakis made her first starts since 2016 this season as the junior’s vast improvement became impossible to ignore after a slightly down season in 2017. Koulizakis’ minutes fluctuated wildly throughout the season, but demonstrated her class with a technically sublime finish in the team’s 6-0 win over Florida International, the junior’s only goal for the season. Impressively, the junior played 100 minutes in the Red Raiders’ shootout loss to Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and the fact that Koulizakis has forced her way into increased playing time in a team that is performing just as well as in previous seasons may be the most promising outcome of all from this campaign.

Ashleigh Lefevre (Illinois)
Team Record: 11-8-1
Stats: 15 games, 0 starts, 0 goals, 1 assist

Cameos off the bench were the order of the season for Ashleigh Lefevre, who made 15 appearances for Illinois in her freshman year, but never saw more than 40 minutes of playing time in any one game. Often used at the back end of the first half to give starters an extended halftime break, Lefevre nevertheless managed to maintain a spot in the rotation, and was able to make her first tangible mark on a game with her first career assist in the Illini’s 5-0 win over SIU Edwardsville early in the season. Having been afforded limited opportunities in her freshman year, Lefevre will no doubt be hoping to build on that going forward to become an integral member of the Illinois starting lineup in 2019. 

Teagan Micah (UCLA)
Team Record: 17-3-2 (NCAA Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 17 games, 14 starts, 8 clean sheets, 0.745 GAA, 0.789 save percentage

Teagan Micah was a vital cog in the UCLA side. (Photo Credit: Rand Bleimeister/UCLA)

Firmly established as one of the nation’s top goalkeepers, Teagan Micah came up in a massive way for UCLA on a number of occasions this season as the Bruins followed up last year’s national title game appearance with a run to the quarter-finals. Playing behind the Bruins’ outstanding defence meant Micah didn’t always have a ton of work to do, but regularly stepped up when called upon. This was most evident in the crosstown derby against USC, in which the junior made 8 saves in the Bruins’ overtime victory, including an acrobatic tip over the bar with just two seconds to play on a shot that would have otherwise won USC the game at the last possible moment. A concussion midway through the season may have kept Micah out for a few games midway through the season, but nonetheless it was another outstanding campaign for one of the top Australian players in college.

Shelby Milton (Saint Francis)
Team Record: 8-9-3 (Northeast Conference Runner-Up)
Stats: 7 games, 1 start, 0 goals, 0 assists

Once again it was an impressive year for Saint Francis, but also one that saw Shelby Milton receive but limited opportunities for the Red Flash in her final campaign with the team. Despite starting against Duquesne early in the season, even that game saw the defender play only 17 minutes as not one of Milton’s seven appearances saw her play more than 37 minutes. It was the same story that had panned out in each of Milton’s previous seasons at St. Francis, who started games in all three of her seasons with the team but never played more than eight games in any one campaign. 

Freyja Murray (Akron)
Team Record:
8-10-2 (MAC Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 3 games, 0 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

It was a frustrating season in terms of playing time for Akron freshman Freyja Murray, who saw playing time in three early-season games, totalling just 64 minutes of action in her first year with the Zips as those three games turned out to be her only appearances in her freshman year. Unfortunately, it looks as though 2018 may be Murray’s only season with the side, with social media posts suggesting the former Northern Tigers defender may be leaving the program.

Caitlin Pickett (Wyoming)
Team Record: 12-4-4 (Mountain West Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 20 games, 19 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

Caitlin Pickett came up big in a couple of overtime thrillers. (Photo Credit: University of Wyoming Media Relations)

Caitlin Pickett started her college career in whirlwind fashion, coming off the bench to score an overtime winner in just her second game against Utah Valley. Although that goal comprised half of the freshman’s season tally, the other goal Pickett scored was even more thrilling, coming 16 seconds from the end of overtime in a vital win over Utah State that helped Wyoming on the way to a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title. Impressively, Pickett started 19 games in her first college season, appearing at home in the Wyoming lineup, and looks set to form an integral part of the Wyoming attack alongside fellow Australian and classmate Indianna Asimus.

Sam Roff (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Team Record:
6-10-3 (Northeast Conference Semi-Finals)
Stats: 19 games, 18 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

Sam Roff’s stat line may look as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, but offensive output has never been the junior’s job as a member of the Fairleigh Dickinson backline. The Knights finished in the top four in their conference for both shutout percentage and goals against average, testament to Roff and her defensive teammates’ strength as a unit. Although Fairleigh Dickinson fell in the NEC semi-finals, Roff’s work this season did not go unnoticed as the junior picked up a second consecutive All-Conference First Team selection to solidify her place as one of the top defenders in the league.

Kate Swartwout (Western Carolina)
Team Record:
8-8-2 (Southern Conference Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 16 games, 3 starts, 1 goal, 1 assist

Kate Swartwout showed plenty of scoring ability before making her way to Western Carolina, and those attacking instincts showed this season as the junior picked up the first goal of her college career in the Catamounts’ 2-1 loss to Chattanooga in October. Whilst starts were once again not forthcoming for Swartwout, the versatile junior retained a role as an impact player off the bench, appearing in 16 games in a middling season for the Catamounts that saw the team reach the conference tournament but fail to pick up a win, falling to Furman in the quarter-finals. With seven seniors on the roster this season, there will certainly be chances for Swartwout to become a regular starter in 2019 as she looks to end her college career with a flourish.

Claire Urquhart (Albany)
Team Record: 14-7-2 (America East Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 7 games, 0 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists

After starting 8 games in 2017, 2018 saw a drop in Claire Urquhart’s playing time in her senior year, with just seven appearances and no starts forthcoming in the Queenslander’s final season in Albany. Urquhart did enjoy a third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four years, but unfortunately did not receive any playing time in the Great Danes’ 5-1 loss to South Florida in the opening round, rounding out a career in which she had been seemingly vastly underutilised throughout.

Alyssa Van Heurck (La Salle)
Team Record:
8-8-1
Stats: 17 games, 6 starts, 1 goal, 0 assists

Alyssa Van Heurck made the most of a positional switch. (Photo Credit: Greg Carroccio/Sideline Photos)

Known more as a fullback in her time prior to college, Alyssa Van Heurck found herself pushed up the pitch into an attacking wide role, and made the most of the switch to tally 17 appearances in her freshman year. Although the Western Australian started just six of those games, Van Heurck could regularly be called upon to provide a spark off the bench, tallying her first college goal in a 24-minute stint against UMBC in just her second college game and rattling off 3 shots in just 22 minutes against St. Bonaventure later in the season as her emergence as an integral part of the rotation became apparent.

College Matildas End Of Season Awards

Player Of The NCAA Tournament: Teagan Micah (UCLA)
Freshman Of The Year: Caitlin Pickett (Wyoming)
Sophomore Of The Year: Claudia Jenkins (La Salle)
Junior Of The Year: Beattie Goad (Stanford)
Senior Of The Year: Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Goalkeeper Of The Year: Claudia Jenkins (La Salle) and Teagan Micah (UCLA)
Defender Of The Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Midfielder Of The Year: Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Forward Of The Year: Caitlin Pickett (Wyoming)
Breakout Player Of The Year: Claudia Jenkins (La Salle)
Most Consistent Player: Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Top Goalscorer: Annika Clayton (Wyoming) and Isabel Hodgson (ETSU) – 4 Goals
Most Assists: Monique Iannella (Hofstra) – 5 Assists
2018 College Matildas Player Of The Year: Annika Clayton (Wyoming)

2018 NCAA Tournament Preview

It’s time for the big one – the NCAA Tournament – and two teams featuring Aussies are among the favourites as Stanford and UCLA look to make return trips to the College Cup.

The 2018 NCAA Tournament sees six teams featuring seven Aussies in the mix for a national title, as at-large teams Texas Tech and UCLA joined conference champions Stanford, LSU, Hofstra, and Albany in the big dance. The chips have fallen the right way for a potential rematch between Beattie Goad’s Stanford outfit and Teagan Micah’s UCLA side in the championship game after 2017’s barnburner that resulted in a 3-2 Stanford victory, with the teams again on opposite sides of the draw. Both sides will be fully expecting to at least reach the College Cup again, whilst for LSU and Texas Tech a Sweet 16 berth is certainly a realistic goal, and from there anything is possible. Hofstra and Albany face the toughest draws, but neither are without their chance to upset the applecart against some bigger teams. 

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

First Round: @ South Florida – 11am, Sunday November 11 

Live on South Florida YouTube

Claire Urquhart and Albany certainly have the toughest test of any of the six teams featuring Aussies, travelling to Tampa to face a South Florida side hellbent on making amends for a 3-0 defeat to Memphis in their conference championship game. Albany reached the NCAA Tournament courtesy of a 5-1 win in their own conference championship game, albeit in a much smaller league, but nonetheless come in on far more of a high than their opponents. South Florida will come in as heavy favourites, but there are always a few upsets in the NCAA Tournament in any sport, so don’t write the Great Danes off just yet.

Albany Team South Florida
14-6-2 Record (W-L-D) 13-3-0
96 RPI Rank 16
2.18 Goals Per Game 2.31
1.23 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.88

Hofstra (Monique Iannella, Grace Watson-Carr) 

First Round: @ Boston College – 11am, Saturday November 10

Live on ACC Network Extra (US Only)

The only other team here to play on the road first up, Hofstra certainly have a shorter trip than Albany as they travel from Long Island to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College. The Eagles upset the odds to finish fourth in the ACC after being tabbed to finish tenth in the league in the preseason poll, a remarkable feat considering the level of play in that conference. However, Hofstra have plenty of tournament experience, both in terms of conference and national tournament games, and can hopefully use that to their advantage to come up with the upset. If Hofstra can manage to dictate the pace of the game, expect to see plenty of Monique Iannella getting up and down the flank from her fullback position, whilst her delivery from set-pieces could be another ace up Hofstra’s sleeve.

Hofstra Team Boston College
15-5-1 Record (W-L-D) 14-4-1
63 RPI Rank 25
1.67 Goals Per Game 2.26
0.95 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.63

 

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill) 

First Round: v Boston University – 6am, Monday November 12 

Live on SEC Network+ (US Only)

LSU were teetering on the bubble with four weeks left in the season, but a remarkable run to the end of the season made talk of an at-large bid moot as the Tigers rolled through the SEC Tournament to secure the conference championship on penalties against Arkansas. LSU are a team nobody will want to face in this sort of form, and more than a few title contenders will be hoping that Boston University can pull off the upset and get the Tigers out of the bracket early. It doesn’t look likely though, as although Boston University are certainly a decent team, LSU should have enough in their locker to secure a comfortable victory as they look to turn what was a decent season a month ago into one for the ages.

LSU Team Boston University
13-6-3 Record (W-L-D) 11-7-3
27 RPI Rank 90
1.50 Goals Per Game 1.24
1.05 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.90

Stanford (Beattie Goad) 

First Round: v Seattle – 2pm, Sunday November 11

Live on Stanford Live Stream

As defending champions and riding a 41-match unbeaten streak, facing Seattle in the first round should pose no significant problems for a Stanford side that has been dominant for the past two seasons. The Cardinal won their first-round match in 2017 against Utah Valley 9-1, and whilst a similar result is not exactly expected here against Seattle, a wide margin of victory would not be in the least bit surprising as they look to continue their march to back-to-back championships. Beattie Goad has been in and out of the starting lineup as an occasional member of the matchday eleven, but even off the bench has been providing outstanding play for the entirety of the season, with the junior set to see far more playing time than in the Cardinal’s run to the 2017 title.

Stanford Team Seattle
17-0-2 Record (W-L-D) 10-7-3
1 RPI Rank 152
2.68 Goals Per Game 1.75
0.47 Goals Conceded Per Game 1.15

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

First Round: v Princeton – 11am, Saturday November 10

Live on TexasTech.com

Probably the tightest match on paper of the six involving Australians, Texas Tech host Princeton in a matchup of two teams separated by just ten positions in the RPI rankings, which in a nation of 335 teams is incredibly close. This game is almost a coinflip, with Princeton finishing second in the smaller Ivy League but doing enough throughout the season to earn an at-large bid, and Texas Tech reaching the Big 12 semi-finals to round out a solid season in the high-major Big 12. Both of these teams are the kind of team that could have proven to be banana skins for bigger teams in the opening weekend, particularly Princeton, who knocked off #2 North Carolina in the Sweet 16 last year and will be hungry to make another deep run. Demi Koulizakis has been coming off the bench to provide some spark to the Texas Tech offence on occasion, and it may just come to pass that the junior provides what the Red Raiders need to get over the line in this one.

Texas Tech Team Princeton
13-5-2 Record (W-L-D) 11-3-2
34 RPI Rank 24
1.50 Goals Per Game 1.50
0.60 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.56

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

First Round: v San Jose State – 1pm, Saturday November 10 

Live on UCLA Live Stream

Like Stanford, UCLA are one of the favourites to progress deep into the tournament and as such, will be expected to dominate their game against San Jose State. San Jose State came in as Mountain West Conference champions, having won the tournament despite finishing fourth in the league, so their body of work throughout the season is perhaps not as glittering as most other teams in the tournament. UCLA, on the other hand, finished second in the Pac-12, arguably the toughest league in the country, and did so despite missing Hailie Mace and Jessie Fleming to national team duty for several matches. Teagan Micah is back to her best after a concussion scare earlier in the season, and the Bruins should be primed to make another run towards the College Cup and will be hoping to go one step better than last season’s championship game defeat to Stanford.

UCLA Team San Jose State
14-3-1 Record (W-L-D) 9-6-6
8 RPI Rank 128
2.44 Goals Per Game 0.76
0.83 Goals Conceded Per Game 0.67

2018 Week 12 Wrap

A whirlwind weekend to end the regular season has left us with four teams and five Australians securing conference championships, with a raft of other teams having either locked up an at-large bid or still very much in the mix. However, the performance of the week came in a game that saw one Aussie help another to a title as Teagan Micah’s performance in goal helped UCLA to a win over USC that delivered Beattie Goad and Stanford an outright Pac-12 championship with a game to spare.

(Featured Image Credit: Michael Rincon)

The week kicked off with a belter of a goal from Sandra Hill that provided one of the highlights of the week even if Grand Canyon couldn’t secure a victory. The Lopes conceded two early goals to Utah Valley in their WAC quarter-final, but when the ball fell to Hill just outside the area following a corner late in the first half, the sophomore had only one thing in mind and rocketed it into the top corner to halve Utah Valley’s lead. Unfortunately, that was the last goal of the game, with Grand Canyon managing just one shot in the second half as their season came to an end with a 2-1 loss.

Stanford needed a win in either of their two games this week to secure a share of the Pac-12 Championship, and as expected clinched one at the first opportunity with a 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Cal on the road at Berkeley. Beattie Goad started once again and played the full 90 minutes, tallying two shots with one on target and one cannoning back off the post as Stanford secured the win courtesy of a pair of Jordan DiBiasi goals, leaving the Cardinal to await the result of the game between USC and UCLA, with any dropped points from USC resulting in Stanford clinching the championship outright even before they played Arizona State. Stanford would go on to beat the Sun Devils regardless, with Goad coming off the bench to play 53 minutes as the Cardinal completed an undefeated regular season with a dominant 4-1 victory.

Teagan Micah remains perfect in her three games against local rivals USC after a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory for UCLA this week, and the Bruins certainly have their goalkeeper to thank for that. Micah came up with eight saves, including three highlight reel efforts, one of which came with just two seconds to play with the game tied at 2-2. In a game that saw the teams trade goals within six seconds of each other as Hailie Mace’s screamer cancelled out USC’s second goal, it was UCLA who secured the victory as Olivia Athens narrowly beat an onrushing goalkeeper to head home into an open net and extend the Bruins’ winning streak over their arch-rivals to three games, as well as see UCLA jump the Trojans to finish in second spot in the Pac-12 behind Stanford.

Monique Iannella has been ever-present in the Hofstra back four this season, and the Pride’s defensive line came up in a massive way as the Pride secured the CAA title and an NCAA Tournament berth with a 2-0 win over James Madison. Hofstra conceded just two shots on target all game, with Iannella coming up with a goal-saving block from close range in a contest that saw the Pride take an early lead through Lucy Porter before doubling the margin in the 57th minute courtesy of Sabrina Bryan.

Caitlin Cantrill and LSU faced South Carolina in the SEC semi-finals, having already won their way through from the first round last weekend. The Tigers had already upset the Gamecocks once this season in a 2-1 win at home, but South Carolina on paper stil looked to be the favourites. However, LSU would secure the 1-0 victory courtesy of a 66th minute South Carolina own goal that sent the Tigers through to the championship game against Arkansas. LSU went down 1-0 just 13 minutes in, but Shannon Cooke’s long-range screamer in the 72nd minute tied the game at 1-1. Overtime couldn’t split the teams, but cooler heads prevailed in the shootout as a far more confident LSU team converted all four of their penalties for a 4-1 shootout victory that secured the team’s first conference championship. Unfortunately, Cantrill did not feature for the Tigers in either game.

Claire Urquhart and Albany had just one game to get through this week, but it was a big one – the America East Championship against UMass-Lowell. It was hardly a contest befitting a championship game, but Albany won’t mind as they dominated for the entire 90 minutes to roll to a 5-1 victory and book their spot in the NCAA Tournament, with Urquhart featuring in garbage time in the final couple of minutes.

A Texas Tech side featuring Demi Koulizakis couldn’t quite grab the upset win over Baylor in the Big 12 semi-finals, but their season looks set to continue into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid. The Red Raiders gave up an equaliser just before halftime, but responded with an equaliser ten minutes after the break. An even game that saw each team finish with 18 shots rightly went to overtime, but Baylor found the golden goal in just the third extra minute. Demi Koulizakis played just two minutes in the loss, but the junior will likely have at least one more chance this season as Texas Tech will certainly hear their name called as an NCAA Tournament team on Selection Monday.

Illinois aren’t quite as comfortable as Texas Tech, but some big early season results against Duke and Oklahoma State may have padded the Illini’s resume just enough to see them sneak into the NCAA Tournament. A Big Ten semi-final loss to Penn State on the back of a 67th minute own goal ended the team’s charge for a conference championship as Ashleigh Lefevre played just a minute off the bench, and whilst they can’t get too comfortable yet, those in the know are predicting that Illinois will find their name in the NCAA Tournament bracket come Monday afternoon.

Colorado have been flying for most of the season, but after a tough back end to the season that saw the Buffaloes face Stanford, UCLA, and USC before this week’s game against Utah, the team from Boulder have slipped onto the bubble and they’ll have a sleepless Sunday night before the selection show on Monday afternoon US time. A win against Utah might have been enough to make them safe, but the Buffaloes fell to a 1-0 loss in a game in which Isobel Dalton did not feature. Now, with a solid 13-4-3 record offset by a less-than-stellar strength of schedule and just one RPI Top 50 win, Colorado will be keeping their fingers crossed and collecting every four-leaf clover and rabbit’s foot they can find in the hope that the selection committee looks favourably upon them.

The dream All-Aussie championship game in the Northeast Conference unfortunately did not come to pass this week, with All-Conference selection Sam Roff playing the full 90 minutes but Fairleigh Dickinson falling to a 2-1 defeat in their semi-final against a Central Connecticut State side that has dominated for the majority of the conference season. However, Shelby Milton and Saint Francis did make it through to the final, with the junior playing 27 minutes in the Red Flash’s 4-0 demolition of Mount St. Mary’s in the other semi-final. Unfortunately, though, Central Connecticut State could not be stopped in the championship game. Saint Francis equalised in the 78th minute having given up the opener 11 minutes earlier, but an 89th minute winner was enough to see Central Connecticut State secure the conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth in a game in which Shelby Milton unfortunately did not feature.

Wyoming came into their Mountain West Conference semi-final evenly matched with New Mexico after the pair finished as two of the league’s three co-champions. As it turned out, the match ended up going to overtime as the Cowgirls secured a 78th minute equaliser to cancel out New Mexico’s 33rd minute opener. Unfortunately, it would be New Mexico who grabbed the golden goal winner in the 102nd minute, bringing Wyoming’s season to an end, and with it, the conclusion of Jessie Gentle and Annika Clayton’s brilliant college careers. All four Aussies started for the Cowgirls, with Indianna Asimus managing two shots on target but not finding the back of the net, whilst Clayton and Gentle were solid in their final collegiate appearances and Caitlin Pickett saw 42 minutes of action as a starter. However, it wasn’t all bad news as Clayton rounded out her career with an All-Mountain West Conference second team selection.

We also bade Isabel Hodgson farewell after four outstanding years as East Tennessee State fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference semi-finals. Although East Tennessee State had defeated their opponents in the regular season, UNC Greensboro were certainly the favourites to win this, and they came out strongly to grab a goal inside the first 20 minutes on their way to a 2-0 halftime lead. That lead would be doubled in the second half before East Tennessee State picked up a consolation in the 67th minute, before UNCG added one more from the spot with 12 minutes to play. Hodgson played 78 minutes in her final collegiate appearance, tallying one shot that was on target in rounding out a career that sees the South Australian finish as the team’s career appearances record holder and one of just two ETSU players to collect multiple All-Southern Conference Tournament selections after adding to her 2016 nod with another for her performances this year.

Two more players saw their seasons come to an end this week without having much impact on their team’s fortunes, but both will be back for another crack next season. Neither Gaby Bentley and Lauren Featherstone were called upon as their Old Dominion and North Dakota State sides unfortunately fell in conference tournaments, putting an end to their campaigns with both out of the running for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: defeated Massachusetts-Lowell 5-1

Claire Urquhart came off the bench to play the final minute in Albany’s America East Championship game victory over Massachusetts-Lowell. 

Colorado (Isobel Dalton) 

This week: lost 1-0 to Utah

Isobel Dalton did not feature in Colorado’s loss to Utah.

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson) 

This week: lost 5-1 to UNC Greensboro

Isabel Hodgson played 79 minutes and tallied a shot on target in her final college match as East Tennessee State fell 5-1 to UNC Greensboro in the Southern Conference semi-finals. 

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff) 

This week: lost 2-1 to Central Connecticut State

Sam Roff played the full 90 minutes in Fairleigh Dickinson’s Northeast Conference semi-final loss to Central Connecticut State.

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: lost 2-1 to Utah Valley

Sandra Hill scored Grand Canyon’s only goal in the loss to Utah Valley in the WAC tournament quarter-finals. 

Hofstra (Monique Iannella, Grace Watson-Carr)

This week: defeated James Madison 2-0

Monique Iannella played the full 90 minutes in Hofstra’s CAA Championship win over James Madison, whilst reserve goalkeeper Grace Watson-Carr did not feature.

Illinois (Ashleigh Lefevre)

This week: lost 1-0 to Penn State

Ashleigh Lefevre came off the bench to play a single minute in Illinois’ Big Ten semi-final loss to Penn State.

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill) 

This week: defeated South Carolina 1-0; defeated Arkansas 4-1 on penalties (1-1 after extra time)

Caitlin Cantrill did not feature for LSU in either game this week as the Tigers secured the SEC Championship.

North Dakota State (Lauren Featherstone) 

This week: lost 3-0 to Denver

Lauren Featherstone did not feature in North Dakota State’s Summit League quarter-final loss to Denver.

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: lost 3-2 to Louisiana Tech (OT)

Gaby Bentley did not feature for Old Dominion in their overtime loss to Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA quarter-finals. 

St. Francis University (Shelby Milton) 

This week: defeated Mount St. Mary’s 4-0; lost 2-1 to Central Connecticut State

Shelby Milton came off the bench to play 27 minutes in St. Francis’ Northeast Conference semi-final win over Mount St. Mary’s, but did not feature in the championship game against Central Connecticut State. 

Stanford (Beattie Goad) 

This week: defeated California 2-0; defeated Arizona State 4-1

Beattie Goad played the full 90 minutes in Stanford’s win over California, tallying two shots with one on target before playing 53 minutes off the bench against Arizona State.

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: lost 2-1 to Baylor (OT)

Demi Koulizakis came off the bench for Texas Tech in their Big 12 semi-final loss to Baylor, playing just two minutes. 

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: defeated USC 3-2 (OT)

Teagan Micah played all 105 minutes of UCLA’s overtime victory over USC, making 8 saves.

Wyoming (Indianna Asimus, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Caitlin Pickett)

This week: lost 2-1 to New Mexico (OT)

All four Australians started in Wyoming’s loss to New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference semi-finals. Annika Clayton was a star in midfield, playing 86 minutes and registering a single shot in the process. Jessie Gentle was ever-present at fullback, whilst Caitlin Pickett played 42 minutes. Indianna Asimus had her chances, finishing with four shots including two on target in a 78-minute performance.

Player of the Year Points:

3: Teagan Micah (UCLA)
2: Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
1: Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)

2018 Week 12 Preview

15 teams featuring Australians remain standing heading into the final week of the regular season, and all have a shot of reaching the NCAA Tournament. How close each team is varies wildly, but nonetheless it looks set to be a thriller of a week.

(Featured Image Credit: University of Wyoming Media Relations)

It may be conference tournament season, but ironically enough the team with the best shot at a title won’t actually be playing in a tournament at all. That team is Beattie Goad’s Stanford outfit, whose Pac-12 conference champion is decided on league results. Coming into the final week, Stanford are tied atop the standings with USC, but have a rescheduled game against Arizona State in their pocket and as such are the only team to play two games this weekend. First up, the Cardinal take on local rivals California on the road at Berkeley, and with the Golden Bears sitting in 11th spot in the 12-team league, a win to clinch no less than a share of the title looks especially likely for a Stanford team that continues to roll on during an undefeated streak that now stretches the best part of two seasons. Stanford can then secure the title for themselves against Arizona State, where any points would be enough to make the result of USC’s game against third-placed UCLA game moot in terms of Stanford’s position.

Speaking of UCLA, Teagan Micah’s Bruins will play that game against local rivals USC at the StubHub Centre, home of the LA Galaxy, in a game that drew a crowd in excess of 10,000 last season when played on campus at UCLA. A win is the only way that UCLA can mount an unlikely challenge for the Pac-12 title, but even if Stanford’s results don’t go their way, a win against another top team will do wonders for their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

Rounding out the Pac-12 is Isobel Dalton and Colorado, who need to get a result against Utah in their final match of the regular season to secure their own NCAA Tournament spot. As it stands, the Buffaloes are just about in, but dropping points to a Utah side that sits well below them in the RPI rankings would just about destroy any chance of Colorado holding onto that tournament spot. After a 16-game unbeaten run to start the season, making the tournament is essentially non-negotiable for the Buffaloes at this stage, but they’ll have to put in the work to get there, particularly after Utah were able to snatch a draw against USC last week.

Moving onto conference tournaments, two teams have already secured their spots in championship games in tournaments that started last weekend. Monique Iannella and Grace Watson-Carr’s Hofstra put together a pair of 1-0 wins against Delaware and Northeastern to secure their passage through to the CAA Championship game against James Madison, whilst an Albany side featuring Claire Urquhart has only Massachusetts-Lowell standing between them and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Meanwhile, four other teams have made their way through to conference tournament semi-finals and find themselves two games away from capturing a conference championship and an NCAA Tournament berth. Caitlin Cantrill’s LSU side have probably done enough to secure an at-large bid regardless, but will still want to capture the SEC crown. They’ll face national title contender South Carolina, whilst in the Big 12, Demi Koulizakis and Texas Tech are in the same boat with a solid record to this point and a game against potential national #1 seed Baylor in the semi-finals not threatening to do any damage to their CV even if they were to suffer a loss.

Ashleigh Lefevre and Illinois sit right on the bubble, and facing Penn State in the Big Ten semi-finals not only gives the Illini a chance to reach the conference championship, but also really bolster their CV against a team that sits in the top 25 of the RPI rankings. Like LSU and Texas Tech, they may not need a conference title in order to reach the NCAA Tournament, but they  Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State, on the other hand, are in a completely different situation. Completely out of the race for an at-large bid, winning the Southern Conference championship is the only way the Buccaneers are going to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They’ll face #2 seed UNC Greensboro in the semi-finals, and whilst the yearly body of work suggests that ETSU come in as underdogs, they do have a win against UNC Greensboro this season under their belts.

Five more teams start their own conference tournaments this week, but we can only see a maximum of four champions from this set as Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson side and Shelby Milton’s St. Francis outfit both reached the Northeast Conference tournament. The two sides faced off in last year’s championship game, with St. Francis emerging victorious on penalties, and with one team in each of the semi-finals in 2018, there is no reason the same matchup can’t occur again in this year’s tournament.

Lauren Featherstone and North Dakota State will also start in the semi-final round in the Summit League’s four-team tournament, facing Denver in the 2 v 3 matchup. All the numbers point towards a Denver victory in this one, but North Dakota State ran the Pioneers close in their regular season contest, falling 3-2 in a barnburner of a contest.

The Australian quartet at Wyoming earned their way to the semi-finals of the Mountain West Conference tournament through their regular season performance, securing a bye as the 2nd seed in the six-team tournament. The Cowgirls will take on fellow co-champions New Mexico, who defeated Colorado College in the 3 v 6 matchup earlier in the week. With the teams tied atop the table in the regular season, this looks certain to be a tight one, but Wyoming did defeat New Mexico 3-2 in the regular season.

Sandra Hill’s Grand Canyon and Gaby Bentley’s Old Dominion have also reached the WAC and Conference USA tournaments respectively, but if they’re going to secure an unlikely conference title, it’s going to happen the hard way as both will start in the quarter-finals. Grand Canyon will face Utah Valley in their first game of the WAC Tournament, and will start as slight favourites despite playing out a 0-0 draw with the Wolverines just 10 days ago. Meanwhile, Old Dominion will face Louisiana Tech in the 4 v 5 matchup in Conference USA. This is a game in which Old Dominion will start as slight favourites, but Louisiana Tech will be confident after winning their regular season matchup 3-2 in late September.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart) 

This week: v Massachusetts-Lowell – 5am, Monday November 5 (America East Conference Championship Game) 

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v Utah – 8am, Saturday November 3 

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v UNC Greensboro – 9:30am, Saturday November 3 (Southern Conference Tournament Semi-Final)

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: @ Central Connecticut State – 4am, Saturday November 3 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semi-Final)

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: @ Utah Valley – 8am, Thursday November 1 (WAC Tournament Quarter-Final) 

Hofstra (Monique Iannella, Grace Watson-Carr) 

This week: @ James Madison – 4am, Sunday November 4 (Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game) 

Illinois (Ashleigh Lefevre) 

This week: v Penn State – 2am, Saturday November 3 (Big Ten Conference Tournament Semi-Final) 

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill) 

This week: v South Carolina – 10am, Friday November 2 (SEC Tournament Semi-Final) 

North Dakota State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Denver – 10am, Friday November 2 (Summit League Tournament Semi-Final) 

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley) 

This week: v Louisiana Tech – 10am, Thursday November 1 (C-USA Tournament Quarter-Final) 

St. Francis University (Shelby Milton) 

This week: v Mount St. Mary’s – 7am, Saturday November 3 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semi-Final) 

Stanford (Beattie Goad) 

This week: @ California – 9am, Saturday November 3

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: v Baylor – 8am, Sunday November 4 (Big 12 Conference Tournament Semi-Final) 

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v USC – 1pm, Saturday November 3 

Wyoming (Indianna Asimus, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Caitlin Pickett)

This week: v New Mexico – 10am, Friday November 2 (Mountain West Conference Tournament Semi-Final)