College Matildas W-League Preview

(Photo: The Southern Conference)

Adelaide United is certainly the place to look for former NCAA Division I players in the W-League in 2019/20, with no less than four members of the Reds having played in college. Usual suspects Alexandra Huynh and Amy Jackson are back for another season in the W-League, whilst former Houston midfielder Rebekah Horsey finally gets a crack at the bigtime, having signed with Canberra United.

Isabel Hodgson | Adelaide United

College Career: East Tennessee State (2015-18)

Isabel Hodgson may have spent four years at East Tennessee State, but the Buccaneers legend was never out of an Adelaide United jersey for too long, even spending one college off-season playing for the Reds in 2015/16. An interrupted stint with the Reds last season saw Hodgson make seven appearances and score one goal before returning to Johnson City to complete her degree, but the dynamic attacker now returns for a first full W-League campaign since 2014/15. Hodgson also finds herself in good scoring form of late, banging home eight goals in nine NPLW appearances with Adelaide City on the way to securing grand final success.

Kahlia Hogg | Adelaide United

College Career: Florida State (2012-13), Colorado (2014-16)

Kahlia Hogg’s 2018/19 season was blighted by injury, but Adelaide United coach Ivan Karlovic nonetheless brought the versatile wide player back into the fold for 2019/20. Having played for Canberra United before leaving for college and Western Sydney Wanderers upon her return, Adelaide is Hogg’s third W-League club, and it may also be the place at which the former Florida State and Colorado winger gets her chance to truly shine. Whether deployed in the backline or further up the pitch, Hogg appears primed for a breakout season in the W-League after appearing 24 times for Illawarra Stingrays in NPL New South Wales this season.

Dylan Holmes | Adelaide United

College Career: Colgate (2015)

It’s fair to say that Dylan Holmes’ year at Colgate wasn’t the most enjoyable or successful time, but since returning to Adelaide, the midfielder has flourished. Holmes picked up the NPL South Australia Coaches’ Player of the Year after a fantastic season for Adelaide City in which the club secured the league and grand final double. Having played 12 games for Adelaide United in 2018/19, Holmes returns for her third W-League season as one of four Aussies to have played in college in the Reds squad. Having started every game in 2018/19, Holmes shapes as an integral player as Adelaide United looks to atone for that campaign’s late-season jitters which eventually cost them a first finals berth.

Laura Johns | Adelaide United

College Career: Massachusetts (2013-16)

A midfielder throughout her college days at Massachusetts, Laura Johns found herself deployed at fullback for much of the 2018/19 W-League season, performing admirably throughout the campaign. Like most of this year’s players, Johns featured for the Reds prior to playing in college, making six appearances in 2012/13 before returning to play 20 more games across the last two seasons. Having made 11 starts in the 2018/19, Johns is firmly entrenched as a member of the Adelaide United squad, emerging as a wide attacking threat whilst capably handling her defensive duties. Johns also enjoyed an outstanding season in NPL South Australia this season, finishing in a tie for fifth in Player of the Year voting with former Kennesaw State defender Nicole Calder.

Isobel Dalton | Brisbane Roar

College Career: Colorado (2016-18)

A Brisbane Roar player even before leaving for college, Isobel Dalton returns home in 2019 after three seasons at Colorado and a brief spell at Nottingham Forest in the English FA Women’s National League North. Despite not receiving a lot of playing time at Colorado as part of a stacked midfield unit, Dalton showed her class on a number of occasions when given the opportunity on a Colorado team that has gained a solid footing in the Pac-12 over the last few seasons. Now, the English-born Queenslander returns home to shore up the Brisbane Roar midfield alongside the likes of Matildas duo Katrina Gorry and Elise Kellond-Knight, and American import Celeste Boureille.

Rebekah Horsey | Canberra United

College Career: Houston (2012-13)

It’s not often that a player returns from college and waits six years to make their W-League debut, but that is exactly how the career of Queenslander Rebekah Horsey has panned out. An integral part of the Lions FC side that completed a Premiership-Championship double in NPL Queensland this year, Horsey was outstanding in the midfield of a team that scored 108 goals whilst giving up just 22 in 24 regular season games. A defensive presence first and foremost, Horsey will likely be tasked with shielding the Canberra United back four as the team in green looks to make a return to the finals for the first time since finishing top of the table in 2016/17.

Amy Jackson | Melbourne Victory

College Career: Florida International (2007-09)

Anyone who’s watched the W-League for a significant period of time already knows what Amy Jackson brings to the table. A versatile midfielder who has also been deployed in defence during her time with both Melbourne clubs, Jackson returns to Victory after spending the last four seasons with crosstown rivals Melbourne City. A three-time W-League champion with Melbourne City, Jackson now returns to her original club to help them attempt to build on last season’s premiership success. Jackson is also on the cusp of becoming a member of the vaunted 100-game club, having made 90 appearances in the W-League to this point. One of the league’s most experienced players, Jackson will provide outstanding leadership alongside the likes of English star Natasha Dowie and recently capped Matildas centre back Jenna McCormick.

Alexandra Huynh | Western Sydney Wanderers

College Career: Colorado (2013-15), Troy (2016)

To say Alexandra Huynh bleeds red and black would be an understatement, so it is little surprise to see the former Colorado and Troy defender back with Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2019/20 season after not playing in the W-League in 2018/19. Since moving to Brisbane after her return from college, Huynh has spent the last two seasons as a mainstay of the Souths United defence in NPL Queensland, and even scored one of the goals of the season in 2019 with a peach of a free kick. However, Huynh’s actual job this season will be shutting down opposition attacks as a Wanderers squad that looks to be the best the club has put together in a number of seasons attempts to break their finals duck.

2015 Signing Period Recap

It’s now been three months since National Signing Day, and the majority of teams have released their signing classes. This year, seven new players will replace the three seniors who graduated after the 2014 season, taking the player total to 21 for this season. Four of the six players will be joining teams that either currently or previously have had Australians playing for them, with the remaining two players becoming the first Australians to play for their respective teams.

Wyoming have once again stacked up on the Aussies, with the current trio of Alisha Bass, Georgia Rowntree, and Candace Sciberras being joined by two more Aussies: Sydney University midfielder Annika Clayton, and Jessie Gentle, who hails from Woolgoolga on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

Also adding to their list of Aussies are the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State, whose trio of Jenna Collingridge, Bridget Sankey, and Maddy Cornell will become a quartet with the addition of Canberra’s Australian Under 17 national team defender Siena Senatore.

One team who is reloading on the Aussie front is Washington State, the former home of ex-Matildas player Rachael Doyle. The Cougars, who play in arguably the best conference in the nation, the PAC-12, have signed Western Sydney Wanderers and Manly United striker Tia Gavin. Tia played on the Football NSW Institute side that won NPLNSW Women’s 1 in 2014, and her form saw her earn a W-League contract for the most recent season.

Claire Urquhart has signed with the University of Albany, and is already over in the US training with her new team, whereas most other players will not be joining until August. The age group national team midfielder is the first Australian to play for Albany.

Adelaide’s Dylan Holmes, who has represented the Young Matildas and played for Adelaide United in the W-League, has committed to Colgate, a team that is definitely on the rise despite being controversially omitted from the NCAA Tournament last season. Players like Dylan will only help Colgate’s cause over the next four years.

Our final addition to the college scene this year is Melbourne’s Emma Heckenberg, who will be joining Drexel in Philadelphia. Emma spent the 2014 season playing alongside Hofstra’s Emily Hulbert at Monbulk in the Victorian Women’s Premier League, and the two will now be conference rivals as Drexel and Hofstra both play in the Colonial Athletic Association.

We’ll be taking a closer look at the new players soon, but in the meantime, if there are any players we’ve missed, don’t hesitate to let us know!