2017 NCAA Tournament Wrap

We started the NCAA Tournament with nine Australians across seven teams in contention for the national championship. The majority fell by the wayside, but spectacularly, we reached the national championship game with the guarantee that one Aussie – either Teagan Micah at UCLA or Stanford’s Beattie Goad – would be a national championship by mid-afternoon. In the end, it was Goad and the Cardinal who secured the title with a 3-2 victory in a pulsating game between two highly exciting and skilful teams. In this wrap, we recap all 18 games featuring Australians, chronicling the journey to the second Australian national champion in as many seasons.

Jump to a round with the links below:

First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game

First Round

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella) lost 1-0 to Auburn

Despite being the higher team in the RPI rankings, Hofstra were forced to travel to Auburn for their first round game. In a tight game which saw Auburn outshoot Hofstra 14-12, it was a Bri Folds strike from the edge of the area in the 64th minute that proved to be the difference as Auburn ran out 1-0 winners. Both Monique Iannella and Emily Hulbert played the full 90 minutes, with Hulbert registering a single shot on target in what turned out to be her final college game.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins) lost 3-1 to Rutgers

Despite the short distance between Philadelphia and Piscataway, La Salle’s matchup with nationally ranked Rutgers was always going to be a tough fixture for the Explorers. Despite being outshot 9-0 in the first half, La Salle managed to go in at halftime level at 0-0. Goals for Rutgers in the 52nd and 56th minutes looked to have set La Salle back on their heels, but a 65th minute goal from Madison Bower trimmed the margin until Rutgers restored their two-goal advantage with 10 minutes to play as the game finished 3-1 in the Scarlet Knights’ favour. Claudia Jenkins did not feature in this game, as senior Larisa Zambelli played the full 90 minutes between the sticks.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers) lost 2-0 to Tennessee

In what was seen as a game between two evenly matched teams, Murray State held firm for the first hour of the contest before Tennessee managed to secure the win courtesy of two quick goals.  The Volunteers’ first goal came seconds shy of the hour mark through Danielle Marcano, before Erin Gilroy, who had set up Marcano’s goal, scored one of her own just four minutes later to completely shift the momentum of the contest in quick time. Harriet Withers finished with five shots, of which three were on target, but couldn’t manage a goal in her final college game as Tennessee goalkeeper Shae Yanez stood firm. Nyomi Devine played the full 90 minutes yet again as the defender’s endurance shone through yet again.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton) lost 2-0 to Virginia

St. Francis were destined to be up against it in their game against nationally ranked Virginia, and given the disparity in shots between the two sides, 2-0 was perhaps a scoreline respective of a solid rearguard effort from the Red Flash despite the loss. Virginia finished with 33 shots, but only seven of those ended up on target as the Cavaliers found goals hard to come by at times. A 23rd minute strike from Veronica Latsko opened the scoring after teammate Taylor Ziemer’s shot was deflected into her path, before Taryn Torres doubled the lead ten minutes after halftime. With just three shots all game, a comeback from St. Francis was always unlikely, and the game ended 2-0 in Virginia’s favour. St. Francis utilised just four substitutes all game, with Shelby Milton unfortunately not being one of those employed in this contest.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton) defeated Denver 2-1

Having defeated Denver 6-1 earlier in the season, Colorado had every reason to feel confident about advancing through to the second round, but the Pioneers had other ideas. A 38th minute goal for Leah Swander put Denver 1-0 up, setting Colorado on their heels slightly late in the first half. However, the Buffaloes regrouped to turn things around right out of the blocks after halftime. A 50th minute goal from Megan Massey was followed just two minutes later by a strike from Taylor Kornieck to give Colorado a 2-1 lead, with the home side managing to secure victory by that scoreline. Isobel Dalton did not feature for Colorado in this first round matchup.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated San Diego State 3-1

UCLA defeated San Diego State 5-1 earlier in the season, and a similar result in this game would have barely raised an eyebrow in the world of college soccer. However, San Diego State produced a far better performance and remained in the contest until the dying stages. Goals to Anika Rodriguez in the 16th minute and Julia Hernandez nine minutes after halftime put UCLA up 2-0 and seemingly in command, but San Diego State replied through Mia Root just after the hour mark to leave the game in the balance at 2-1 in the Bruins’ favour with 27 minutes to play. Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah made five saves to maintain UCLA’s lead, and MacKenzie Cerda secured the Bruins’ passage through to the second round with a goal five minutes from time as the home side ran out 3-1 victors.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Utah Valley 9-1

In what was always likely to be a blowout win for Stanford, the Cardinal certainly took that notion to the extreme with a 9-1 demolition of Utah Valley. Stanford went up 2-0 early in the piece courtesy of a pair of errors from the Wolverines’ goalkeeper as Madison Haley and Civana Kuhlmann capitalised. Utah Valley pulled one back in the 17th minute from a corner, but three goals in four minutes either side of the half-hour mark from Jaye Boissiere, Tierna Davidson, and Catarina Macario put the game to bed before halftime. Belle Briede added another before halftime, before three second-half goals, including two to Sam Tran, completed the rout. Beattie Goad came off the bench to play 36 minutes and was unlucky to not have an assist as teammates’ shots went agonisingly wide on a couple of occasions.

Second Round

Colorado (Isobel Dalton) lost 1-0 to North Carolina

As in 2014, Colorado found themselves up against North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and once again a sterling defensive effort gave the Buffaloes every chance of victory. However, in this case it was an early goal for North Carolina, rather than an overtime winner, that sealed Colorado’s fate as Brigitte Andrzejewski tallied the game’s only goal in the 26th minute. Colorado had more than a few chances, finishing with 11 shots to North Carolina’s 19, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Isobel Dalton unfortunately did not feature in the loss as coach Danny Sanchez kept the rotation short.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Northwestern 1-0 (OT)

Glacing at the box score, and seeing that UCLA finished with 13 shots on target to Northwestern’s 1, you may be forgiven for wondering how the Bruins could possibly have required extra time to finish this one. However, the side from Westwood faced an inspired performance from Northwestern goalkeeper Lauren Clem, who came up with 12 saves, many of them high quality, to keep the Wildcats in the game despite an almost complete absence of meaningful attacks from her team. However, early in extra time, Ashley Sanchez bisected the Northwestern defence with a sublime pass which found Anika Rodriguez, who buried the one-on-one chance to send the Drake Stadium crowd into raptures. Teagan Micah played all 92 minutes, finishing with the clean sheet after making the only save that she was forced into all night.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Auburn 2-0

Auburn may have knocked out a pair of Australians in Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella with their win over Hofstra in the first round, but there was no getting past Beattie Goad and Stanford in the second round. The Tigers held on until halftime, keeping the Cardinal out, but the second half saw Stanford run over the top of the visitors. Kyra Carusa scored the opener in the 58th minute, and when Catarina Macario doubled the lead 9 minutes later, the game was firmly in Stanford’s control. With Auburn only managing three shots all game, victory was all but assured for Stanford once the second goal went in, and it came to pass as such. Beattie Goad enjoyed a stint off the bench with the game still in the balance, registering two shots in 26 minutes of playing time.

Sweet Sixteen

UCLA defeated Virginia 2-1

In what was one of the most confusing matches of the season in terms of the teams playing compared with how the game played out, UCLA emerged victorious with an 89th minute winner to move into the Elite Eight. Virginia opened the scoring via an own goal in the sixth minute, with UCLA defender Karina Rodriguez heading a Cavaliers free kick into her own net with Teagan Micah left stranded. UCLA equalised a mere 35 seconds later, with Jessie Fleming converting a penalty after Ashley Sanchez was brought down in the box by Megan Reid, who received a yellow card. With two potent attacking lineups, and two goals inside the first six minutes, a deluge of goals seemed almost inevitable, but somehow the teams combined for just 11 shots on target all game, eight of which came from UCLA. The tide shifted monumentally late in regulation, as Virginia defender Courtney Petersen received a second yellow card after a slightly cynical foul deep in UCLA attacking territory. With the game seemingly destined to head into extra time, Sanchez cut open the Virginia defence, which was now a player short, for Rodriguez to finish in a similar fashion to her winner against Northwestern. Teagan Micah again played the entire game, finishing with two saves.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Florida State 1-0

Florida State may not have been the powerhouse this season that they have been in recent years, but the Seminoles know exactly what November soccer is all about, and their rearguard defence gave Stanford plenty to think about. Stanford had plenty of chances, taking 22 shots, but with only eight on target, were unable to find the back of the net until Tierna Davidson took things into her own hands with 12 minutes remaining. Picking the ball up in the back line, Davidson drove into the midfield, and with no Seminoles player shutting her down, simply continued on her run, taking on several defenders before finding Jordan DiBiasi in the area, who lashed the ball home for the game’s only goal. Once again, Stanford limited their opponents’ opportunities throughout, allowing the Seminoles just one shot on target. Unfortunately, despite enjoying decent playing time in the first two rounds, Beattie Goad’s services were not required for this game.

Elite Eight

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Princeton 3-1

UCLA faced a dangerous Princeton side which had already knocked off #1 seed North Carolina, but the Bruins soon took control of the game with an early goal to Hailie Mace courtesy of a well-placed header in the 16th minute. A second goal followed just two minutes later as some spectacular interplay on the right-hand side saw Zoey Goralski and Anika Rodriguez combine to set up Olivia Athens, who slotted the ball home from close range. The score remained 2-0 until halftime, but Princeton pulled one back shortly after halftime as Abby Givens was played through and finished the one-on-one chance despite the best efforts of Teagan Micah, who did well to close down the angle but couldn’t prevent the goal. However, Mace re-established the Bruins’ two goal cushion on the hour mark, rounding the goalkeeper and knocking the ball into the empty net for the game’s final goal as UCLA ran out 3-1 winners. Teagan Micah was again between the sticks for the full 90 minutes, making 3 saves.

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated Penn State 4-0

This match against Penn State shaped to be Stanford’s biggest test thus far, but the Cardinal put paid to that with a first half onslaught that rendered the game over as a contest by halftime. Giving up a free kick in scoring position with Catarina Macario on the pitch is not generally a good strategy, but that’s what Penn State were forced into doing just 90 seconds in, and the Brazilian-born forward curled the resulting set piece home for an early Cardinal lead. Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahanzous kept the game at 1-0 with a spectacular tip over the bar in the 8th minute, before Andi Sullivan doubled the lead just after the 10 minute mark with a superbly positioned strike into the bottom right corner. Jaye Boissiere nestled one into the bottom left corner just 88 seconds later, whilst Kyra Carusa added a fourth in the 25th minute, slotting home a Macario through ball, and the result was in the bag before Beattie Goad could even get on the pitch. Goad played a few minutes in the back end of the first half before enjoying a more extended stint on the pitch in the second half to play 29 minutes as Stanford cruised to the win.

Final Four

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated South Carolina 2-0

A first-half blitzkrieg from Stanford was enough to secure their passage into the national championship game. Tegan McGrady’s free kick was met by a deft header from Jordan DiBiasi to give the Cardinal a lead in the 10th minute, and with the Stanford defence holding South Carolina’s attack at bay throughout much of the first half, DiBiasi’s second goal of the game in the 26th minute gave the top-ranked Cardinal a comfortable 2-0 advantage. Although Stanford were unable to add to their lead throughout the rest of the contest, South Carolina managed just one shot on target for the entire game, meaning that the lead was rarely in danger. Beattie Goad was used sparingly, coming on in the back end of the first half to afford starter Kyra Carusa an extended halftime break.

UCLA (Teagan Micah) defeated Duke 4-3 on penalties (0-0 after extra time)

Teagan Micah was one of the heroes for UCLA in their semi-final shootout victory against Duke, making the decisive save as the Bruins advanced to the national championship game. Both teams were hampered slightly by an inability to get the ball on target throughout the contest, with just one of UCLA’s 15 shots being on goal, whilst Duke could only manage to get a marginally better 3 of their 10 attempts on target. UCLA did have a couple of shots blocked late in the first half of extra time, but with few shots in the second period, goals became more and more unlikely and eventually the teams moved to one end of the pitch for a shootout. Malinda Allen missed Duke’s second penalty to give UCLA an early advantage, but MacKenzie Cerda’s penalty for UCLA was saved to leave the shootout tied at 2-2 after three shots. Each team converted their fourth, but Teagan Micah came up with the save as Duke’s Kat McDonald attempted to place the ball down the middle. Freshman Marley Canales slotted UCLA’s fifth penalty, clinching the win and sending the Bruins into raptures.

National Championship Game

Stanford (Beattie Goad) defeated UCLA (Teagan Micah) 3-2

As in their semi-final, Stanford came out firing to score two early goals to command control of the national championship game in the first half. Kyra Carusa opened the scoring for the Cardinal in the 15th minute as Teagan Micah misjudged an awkwardly spinning deflected cross, leaving the Stanford forward wide open to smash the ball past the UCLA defenders valiantly attempting to get a block in on the line. Micah could hardly be faulted for Stanford’s second goal though. Catarina Macario played Andi Sullivan through with an incisive through ball, and the US national team midfielder slotted the one-on-one chance to double the Stanford lead. Stanford retained the lead until halftime despite penalty shouts to both sides being waved away by the referee and numerous chances for the Bruins as the first half came to a close.

However, 9 minutes into the second half, Stanford goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz brought down UCLA fifth-year senior Zoey Goralski in the box and the referee had absolutely no choice but to point to the spot. Canadian national team midfielder Jessie Fleming stepped up, despite not taking a penalty in the Bruins’ semi-final shootout victory, and although Jahansouz got a hand to the shot, the ball nestled in the side netting to cut Stanford’s lead in half. Four minutes later, Delanie Sheehan found the equaliser as a UCLA corner was flicked on at the near post, finding Sheehan at the back stick, who managed to outjump her defender and find the back of the net.

In a game with five goals, the best was certainly saved for last. Receiving a pass from  Macario, Stanford redshirt sophomore Jaye Boissiere found a bit of space about 25 yards from goal, and hit a sublime curling shot which left Micah with no chance as the Cardinal retook the lead which they had let slip just 8 minutes earlier, and also delivered Macario a third assist for the game. Tegan McGrady almost followed up four minutes later with an absolute cannon of a shot that may have exited Earth’s orbit if it hadn’t hit the post and rebounded back out. UCLA had a couple of chances late on, with MacKenzie Cerda forcing a save from Jahansouz, but Stanford managed to hold onto their lead for the final 24 minutes to secure the program’s second national title and move one ahead of UCLA in terms of all-time national championships across all sports with their 114th – although UCLA would secure their own 114th national championship just five hours later with a victory in the men’s water polo championship.

For the champions, Beattie Goad came on briefly in the first half, coming on for Kyra Carusa for the last 8 minutes of the opening period. Teagan Micah played the full 90 minutes, making seven saves including a couple that kept UCLA in the contest late in the first half. Goad becomes the second Australian in consecutive seasons to win a national championship, following Lucinda Pullar’s victory with USC last season.

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2017 NCAA Tournament Preview

Seven teams featuring nine Aussies will form part of the 64-team NCAA Tournament. Two teams – Stanford and UCLA – are among the teams expected to make deep runs in the tournament, whilst others are looking to write a Cinderella story.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

First Round: v Utah Valley – 2pm, Sunday November 12

As was the case in 2016, Stanford come into the NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed, but with a better team and a stronger chance to go all the way than was the case last year, when the Cardinal fell in the Round of 32 to Santa Clara following an injury to Andi Sullivan. The Cardinal start their NCAA Tournament campaign at home to Utah Valley, a team that was only able to put together a 10-11-1 record for the regular season, but managed to win their way through the Western Athletic Conference tournament to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. A win in the opener will see Stanford host either Aussie-laden Hofstra or Auburn in the Round of 32, whilst their main challengers for a spot in the College Cup in Orlando come December shape to be Penn State and last year’s national runner-up West Virginia. Minutes have been hard to come by for Beattie Goad in recent weeks, but if Stanford can comfortably handle Utah Valley, then a spell on the field late in the game may just come the sophomore’s way.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

First Round: v Denver – 6am, Monday November 13

Colorado just scraped into the tournament with what must have been one of the last at-large bids handed out. A bubble team in every sense of the word, Isobel Dalton and the Buffaloes have been given a fairly favourable draw as geographical considerations see them take on Denver, one of the lowest RPI sides in the entire tournament at 225th. A win for Colorado would see them most probably face #1 seed North Carolina in a rematch of an NCAA Tournament game from 2014 that saw the much more fancied North Carolina side just scrape home with a 1-0 win in overtime after a fantastic rearguard performance from a Colorado defence featuring Australian Alex Huynh.

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

First Round: at Auburn – 10am, Saturday November 11

A bubble team coming into the conference tournament final against Northeastern, Hofstra removed all doubt with a 2-1 win which secured an automatic bid and delivered a trip to Alabama to play Auburn. The choice of who hosts this game may raise eyebrows, with Hofstra sitting at #22 in the RPI and Auburn at #27, but the Pride can only play the game on the rectangle of grass at which it has been scheduled. It will no doubt be an incredibly hard-fought battle between what appear to be evenly matched teams, and a win for Hofstra would almost certainly see the CAA champions take on #1 overall seed Stanford in the second round.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

First Round: at Rutgers – 9am, Sunday November 12

A dominant force throughout the Atlantic 10 regular season, things became decidedly harder for the Explorers as they required overtime in both their semi-final and final victories on their way to securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. Now, they face a short but tough away trip to New Jersey to face nationally ranked Rutgers, a side that has given up just five goals in 19 games to this point. La Salle may have banged home 47 goals this season, but that Rutgers defence, and particularly goalkeeper Casey Murphy, will be incredibly hard to breach. If the Explorers are able to sneak a win over Rutgers, their likely second round opponent would be last year’s national runner-up West Virginia, who, despite losing Ashley Lawrence and Kadeisha Buchanan from last year’s side, remain a force at this level.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

First Round: @ Tennessee – 9am, Sunday November 12

Murray State come into this contest with an almost identical RPI to Tennessee, in yet another game that will attempt to answer the question as to the gap between solid power conference teams and dominant mid-majors. Tennessee finished in a tie for fourth in the always-strong SEC with a 14-4-1 record, whilst Murray State were simply dominant in the Ohio Valley Conference, going 8-0-2 in the regular season before clinching the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference championship. The Racers have a real shot in this one, but they will need to re-discover their attacking form from earlier in the season, having scored multiple goals in just one of their last six games. During that time though, they have kept five clean sheets, but Tennessee come in having scored 43 goals this season.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

First Round: at #3 Virginia – 11am, Sunday November 12

As the lowest rated team of those which feature Aussies, Shelby Milton and St. Francis have the toughest draw of the seven, playing #3 seed Virginia away in the first round. St. Francis played a fairly tough non-conference schedule and came into league play with a 3-6-1 record, but recovered in conference play to finish 10-7-3 and win the Northeast Conference title on penalties over Sam Roff and Fairleigh Dickinson. Virginia’s record reads a similar 11-5-4, but with one significant difference: the Cavaliers play in the ACC, one of the top conferences in the nation. #3 seeds generally win their first round games by margins of three goals or more, but St. Francis can look to 2015’s upset of California by Loyola Marymount for inspiration in their attempt to create a boilover on the first weekend.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

First Round: v San Diego State – 2pm, Saturday November 11

Despite securing a #2 seed, geographical considerations mean that UCLA will be taking on #80 RPI San Diego State despite a number of teams in the tournament sitting in the sub-200 range. However, UCLA have already played San Diego State this season, demolishing the Aztecs 5-1 as part of a five-game stretch to start the season in which the Bruins smashed home 25 goals. With Australian sophomore Teagan Micah in goal behind a defence that has been wall-like at times this season, UCLA have dropped points in just three games this season, although one of those was a loss to overall #1 seed Stanford. If the Bruins do get past San Diego State, they will take on Butler or Northwestern before facing either Pepperdine – whom they drew 1-1 with earlier in the season – or #3 seed Virginia. If the Bruins make the Elite Eight, they will likely face #1 seed North Carolina in an exact replay of the 2013 matchup at the same stage – #2 UCLA v #1 UNC. UCLA won that game 1-0 on their way to a national title, defeating Virginia on penalties in the semi-finals before edging Florida State in overtime.

2017 Week 12 Wrap

Six conference championship games involving Australians made for an exciting Sunday as teams looked to punch their tickets to the NCAA Tournament. Elsewhere, Paige Hayward finally secured the career scoring record for Texas Southern.

Paige Hayward had a successful weekend on a personal level, but unfortunately that didn’t transpire into team success as Texas Southern fell in the SWAC Tournament semi-finals. Playing in the final conference tournament of her career, Hayward slotted home the winner in the Tigers’ win over home side Prairie View A&M in the quarterfinals, and in the process broke the Texas Southern career record for goals scored as the senior took her career total to 25. Hayward’s record is made all the more impressive by the fact that the Sydneysider played the first season of her college career at Texas-Brownsville before transferring to Texas Southern.

Sunday saw Aussies involved in six conference championship games, all attempting to join Beattie Goad and Stanford in the NCAA Tournament after the Cardinal secured their spot last week. Hofstra, Western Carolina, Murray State, Grambling State, La Salle, Fairleigh Dickinson, and St. Francis all saw their seasons hinge on their result in a conference championship game.

Three early games kicked off simultaneously, with all requiring extra time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Priya Gakhar and Grambling State, who fell to Alabama State – featuring Australian assistant coach Shelbi Vienna-Hallam – in a penalty shootout after the game finished 0-0, with Gakhar playing a short cameo off the bench but not being involved in the shootout.

La Salle, whose Australian goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins was forced to watch from the sidelines as senior starter Larisa Zambelli played yet another blinder, looked certain to go to penalties as well as their championship game against VCU headed deep into extra time with the score at 0-0. However, a late Maci Bower goal ensured that the Explorers would secure victory, and in the process punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Whilst Shelby Milton did not take to the field for St. Francis, Sam Roff played the full 110 minutes for Fairleigh Dickinson as the Northeast Conference foes played off in the championship game. Roff, an All-Conference First Team selection, and her fellow defenders were solid all game as neither team was able to manage a goal, forcing the game into a penalty shootout. In the end, St. Francis were the better side from the spot, clinching the conference championship and their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Whilst these games were heading to their conclusion, the Australian duo of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella at Hofstra were just kicking off against Northeastern. Hofstra started amazingly, with a goal inside 90 seconds to take an early 1-0 lead against the dangerous Northeastern side. The Huskies would equalise shortly after, but Monique Iannella had no designs on allowing Hofstra’s opponents to keep pace for long. Whipping in a delightful free kick, Iannella found the head of Jenn Buoncore to give the Pride a 2-1 lead shortly before halftime. The game ebbed and flowed throughout, but in the end Hofstra would not be denied, maintaining their perfect conference record in 2017.

Kate Swartwout played a short cameo for Western Carolina in their championship game against UNC Greensboro, but unfortunately the Catamounts couldn’t repeat the dose after upsetting Furman in the Southern Conference semi-finals. Despite outshooting UNC Greensboro 20-7, Western Carolina fell 1-0 to a goal just after halftime.

The news was better for Murray State stars Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine, who secured a second NCAA Tournament trip in three years with a win over Australian assistant coach Rachael Doyle and Eastern Kentucky. Despite a barrage of shots, including five on target from Withers, the Racers were unable to break the deadlock until the 94th minute, when Devine teed up Miyah Watford for the golden goal in the first period of overtime.

Those results leave us with five teams featuring Aussies on the roster securing automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament: Stanford (Beattie Goad), Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella), St. Francis (Shelby Milton), Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers), and La Salle (Claudia Jenkins). Teagan Micah and UCLA have secured an at-large bid, even if the news is not yet official, whilst Isobel Dalton and Colorado will have to sweat on the decision-making of the selection committee.

Player Of The Year Points:

3: Paige Hayward (Texas Southern)
2: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
1: Nyomi Devine (Murray State)

Complete Results:

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: lost 2-1 to Saint Francis

Lauren Featherstone did not feature in Central Connecticut State’s season-ending loss to Saint Francis.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: defeated Utah 2-0

Isobel Dalton came off the bench, playing a single minute in Colorado’s win over Utah which leaves the Buffaloes sweating on an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: lost 2-0 to Northeastern

Emma Heckenberg started for Drexel in their conference tournament semi-final loss to Northeastern, playing 42 minutes.

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: defeated Bryant 2-1, lost 3-2 on penalties to St. Francis (0-0 AET)

Sam Roff started both games and played all 200 minutes of game time as Fairleigh Dickinson fell desperately short of securing a conference championship after losing on penalties to St. Francis.

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: defeated Jackson State 1-0; defeated Grambling State 3-1; lost 4-2 on penalties to Alabama State (0-0 AET)

Priya Gakhar came off the bench for short cameos in all three games this week as Grambling State fell short of a conference championship by the slimmest of margins, going down in penalties in the SWAC Tournament final.

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: defeated UTRGV 2-1; lost 1-0 to Utah Valley

Sandra Hill did not feature in Grand Canyon’s WAC quarter-final win over UTRGV, but came off the bench to play 8 minutes in the semi-final loss to Utah Valley.

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: defeated William & Mary 1-0; defeated Northeastern 2-1

Both Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella played the full 90 minutes in both games as Hofstra won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and secured an NCAA Tournament berth. Iannella had an assist in each game, whilst Hulbert registered a single shot in the win over William & Mary.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: defeated Duquesne 2-1 (OT); defeated VCU (OT)

Claudia Jenkins did not feature for La Salle in either game this week. Starter Larisa Zambelli won the Player of the Tournament award as the Explorers rounded out a successful conference schedule by winning the conference tournament and punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: defeated Southeast Missouri State 1-0; defeated Eastern Kentucky 1-0 (OT)

Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers each started both games this week as Murray State secured their second conference title in three years and secured an NCAA Tournament berth in the process. Devine played all 183 minutes of game time, whilst Withers played 84 minutes in the win over Southeast Missouri State and 86 minutes in the championship game victory over Eastern Kentucky, tallying five shots on target in the latter contest.

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: defeated Oregon 1-0

Olivia Ellis did not feature in Oregon State’s final day rivalry win over Oregon.

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: lost 1-0 to Saint Mary’s

Ellie Papalexiou did not feature in Pacific’s loss to Saint Mary’s.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: defeated Central Connecticut State 2-1; defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 3-2 on penalties (0-0 AET)

Shelby Milton did not feature for St. Francis in either game this weekend as the Red Flash secured an NCAA Tournament berth after edging Fairleigh Dickinson on penalties in the Northeast Conference tournament final.

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: lost 1-0 to Murray State

Maddy Cornell started for Southeast Missouri State in their Ohio Valley Conference semi-final loss to Murray State, playing 55 minutes.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: defeated California 1-0

Beattie Goad did not feature for Stanford in their 1-0 win over California.

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: defeated Prairie View A&M 1-0; lost 6-5 on penalties to Alabama State (1-1 AET)

Paige Hayward started both games in her final SWAC conference tournament, setting the Texas Southern career goalscoring record with the game’s only goal in the quarter-final win over hosts Prairie View A&M.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: defeated USC 3-2 (OT)

Teagan Micah came off the bench to play the second half and overtime as senior Siri Ervik was afforded the start in UCLA’s final regular season game. Micah was not forced into any saves and kept a 46 minute clean sheet as UCLA secured the win in front of a regular season record 11,925 fans.

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: defeated Furman 2-0; lost 1-0 to UNC Greensboro

Kate Swartwout did not feature in the Catamounts’ boilover semifinal win over Furman, but came off the bench to play a short cameo in the championship game loss to UNC Greensboro.

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: lost 1-0 to Hofstra

Lorena Bugden did not feature in William & Mary’s season-ending semi-final loss to Hofstra.

2017 Week 6 Preview

Revenge may be a dish best served 10 months later for Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State, whilst the Pac-12 battle for national supremacy between UCLA and Stanford continues to simmer as both teams commence conference play this week. SWAC play also commences for our Aussies this week, with both Priya Gakhar and Paige Hayward hungry for goals.

The last game of the 2016 Southern Conference season was the championship game between East Tennessee State and Samford. Adelaide’s Isabel Hodgson scored the opener just two minutes in, but Samford equalised late in the first half before finding a second half winner to take the title and the NCAA Tournament bid that comes with it. However, the Buccaneers get an early chance at revenge this season, facing the Bulldogs in their opening weekend of conference play. Hodgson and ETSU also take on Chattanooga this week, and if they can pick up the win that their class deserves in that game, it will no doubt go some way to restoring their confidence after falling to four straight losses by two or more goals. Goals have hardly been a problem for Hodgson and the rest of the attack, but better defensive efforts will be required in these two games if they are to start their conference slate on a high.

 

dalton-and-micah
Isobel Dalton and Teagan Micah will renew “hostilities”, if you can call them that, this weekend.

The Pac-12 games featuring Aussies on both sides get started early this season, withTeagan Micah’s UCLA side heading to Boulder to face Isobel Dalton and Colorado. This particular matchup was played much later in the season in 2016, with Colorado picking up an unexpected 1-0 win on their home patch. Forced to travel to Boulder again, UCLA will be hoping to bounce back from a 1-1 draw against Pepperdine in their last fixture in which they did everything except score a second goal which would have clinched victory. The Colorado attack has swung between both ends of the spectrum wildly so far this season, picking up a pair of 6-0 wins but also finding goals hard to come by. Which Colorado turns up to play could have a major say in just how busy Micah will be in each team’s only game of the week. However, UCLA’s attack will have to be on point if they are to beat the Buffaloes’ goalkeeping tandem of Scout Watson and Jalen Tompkins, who have combined for 7 clean sheets in 9 games to this point.

Meanwhile, Beattie Goad and Stanford remain ready to pounce on top spot in the polls if UCLA do slip up against Colorado. The Cardinal take on a Washington State team which, on the face of it, looks to be doing quite well at 5-1-2. However, a 0-0 draw with Montana this week may have exposed some flaws in the attacking side of the Cougars’ game, and against a Stanford side with six clean sheets in eight games, that’s not something you want being made public in the lead-up to the game. Beattie Goad forms part of that defence in the left back role, but her attacking instincts have already delivered a goal and an assist so far this season, and to see the former W-League champion getting up and down the flank to assist attacking raids would not be a surprise in the slightest.

Murray State had a tough weekend last week, dropping their first points of the season in a 1-0 loss to Saint Louis. Despite this, they will go into their first full weekend of Ohio Valley Conference play this week knowing that they have exactly what it takes to dominate this league, and why not? Their only conference loss in the last two seasons came in last year’s conference tournament, and even then it was a game they could easily have won. The Racers have already knocked off a couple of teams considered better than this weekend’s opponents – Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State – and Harriet Withers rarely goes two weeks without banging home a goal. Throw in Nyomi Devine marshalling the defence, and things are still looking pretty good for Murray State as they look to add to last week’s 1-0 win over Morehead State in their conference opener.

Conference play also kicks off for our two players in the SWAC, and whilst the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey may have disrupted things for Paige Hayward and Texas Southern, conference play is where the Australian senior has shone in recent years. The Tigers could have been considered heavily overmatched in their opening few Division I games, all of which they lost 3-0, but with Hayward up front, there is no reason to think the goals won’t start to flow for Texas Southern, commencing with this week’s games against fellow winless sides Jackson State and and Southern. Priya Gakhar and Grambling State also start their league slate this week, facing perennial conference favourites Howard. However, it’s been a surprisingly good start for Grambling State this season. A win over UC Riverside and an overtime loss to Louisiana Tech have shown that the team may be starting to a corner after some utterly abysmal seasons in recent years – the team has already matched its Division I win total from 2016 and conference play hasn’t even started yet. Gakhar has been coming off the bench in a few games to this point, and surely it is just a matter of time before she notches her first college goal.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: at UMBC – 3am, Monday September 25

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Temple – 9am, Sunday September 24

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v UCLA – 7:30am, Saturday September 23

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v Northeastern – 8am, Friday September 22; v William & Mary – 4am, Monday September 25

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Chattanooga – 9am, Saturday September 23; v Samford – 4am, Monday September 25

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Cornell – 5am, Monday September 25

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Howard – 3am, Monday September 25

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: at Cal State Northridge – 12pm, Saturday September 23; at Cal State Fullerton – 10am, Monday September 25

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at Delaware – 9am, Friday September 22; v UNC Wilmington – 3am, Monday September 25

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Duquesne – 9am, Friday September 22; at St Joseph’s – 3am, Monday September 25

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: at Alabama – 10am, Friday September 22; v Mississippi State – 6am, Monday September 25

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: at Tennessee Tech – 10am, Friday September 22; at Jacksonville State – 4am, Monday September 25

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v Incarnate Word – 7am, Saturday September 23; v Abilene Christian – 4am, Monday September 25

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: at Florida Atlantic – 9am, Saturday September 23

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: at Arizona State – 12pm, Saturday September 23

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at Cal State Bakersfield – 12pm, Saturday September 23

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: at Morehead State – 8am, Saturday September 23; at Eastern Kentucky – 3am, Monday September 25

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: at Washington State – 11am, Friday September 22;

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Southern – 10am, Saturday September 23; at Jackson State – 4am, Monday September 25

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: v Kansas State – 10am, Saturday September 23; v Kansas – 4am, Monday September 25

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Colorado – 7:30am, Saturday September 23

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Samford – 9am, Saturday September 23; v Chattanooga – 4am, Monday September 25

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at James Madison – 9am, Friday September 22; at Drexel – 3am, Monday September 25

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: at Colorado College – 7am, Saturday September 23; at Air Force – 4am, Monday September 25

2017 Week 3 Preview

Three Pac-12 teams that feature Aussies are in the top 25, and all will seek to maintain their position with a pair of games this week. Meanwhile, the Louisiana-based Aussies will face each other, and Claire Urquhart seeks to keep a grip on a starting spot for Albany.

It’s a battle of the Aussies in Louisiana, as Priya Gakhar and Grambling State take on Nicholls State’s Australian pair of Kristy Helmers and Tenille Harberger. The game will be Grambling State’s second in as many days, taking on Southern Mississippi on the road before coming home to host the Colonels. The Tigers have picked up a win over NCAA Division III side Texas A&M-Texarkana before going down to New Mexico State in a respectable 1-0 loss, with Gakhar coming off the bench in both games. On the flipside, it is Nicholls State’s first game in 12 days after last week’s game against Prairie View A&M was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Ordinarily, Nicholls State would be clear favourites against any SWAC team, and the case may remain here, but the Colonels have already fallen to Mississippi Valley State this season to sit at 0-2 to start the season. 2016 Co-Freshman of the Year Kristy Helmers has yet to tally a goal this season, and there would be no more perfect time to get her scoring exploits back on track as the team could really do with a win, either against Grambling State, or Jackson State in their second game of the week, to kickstart their season.

Beattie Goad and Stanford fell to their first loss to Florida in program history last week, and things don’t stand to get much easier as the Cardinal face #10 Georgetown this week, although they do at least have the benefit of playing at home against the Hoyas. Georgetown lost their opener to West Virginia 1-0, but since then have been on a tear, scoring 10 goals and conceding a grand total of zero to improve their record to 3-1. Like Georgetown, Stanford have been banging in the goals, scoring 11 in three games to this point, with Beattie Goad responsible for the most recent of these in the loss to Florida. Stanford’s second opponent of the week, Navy, have also compiled a solid 3-2 record to this point, and the Cardinal would be unwise to take the Midshipmen lightly.

Thanks to a combination of their own success and upsets in other games, Teagan Micah and UCLA have moved to the top of the coaches’ poll this week, and have been rewarded for their success with a trip to Utah to take on BYU and Weber State. It’s been a slightly slow start to the season for BYU following the graduation of now-NWSL striker Ashley Hatch following the 2016 campaign, with the Cougars able to tally just three goals in their four games to this point, resulting in a 1-1-2 record after four games. Admittedly, BYU have kept two clean sheets in those four games, but Penn State’s offence is the only one they have faced which is at the level of UCLA’s, so we could see another Bruin goal fest. The only question is – how much work will Teagan Micah actually get in this game? The Australian goalkeeper hasn’t had a huge amount of work to do so far this season, although she did manage to pick up a Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week award last week. Weber State’s offence has been even more lacklustre than BYU’s scoring just two goals to this point, falling to a 1-3 record after four games. The Wildcats are perhaps, on paper, the weakest non-conference opponent that UCLA will face this season, but the Bruins will still need to ensure that they get the job done as slip-ups in these games can make a real difference in a team’s seed line come NCAA Tournament time.

Isobel Dalton and Colorado also face BYU this weekend as they attempt to maintain their position in the Coaches’ Poll Top 25, but they first must take on Cal State Northridge. The Matadors are undefeated to this point, compiling a 2-0-2 record to this point. Goals could be tough to come by in this one, with CSUN giving up just three goals in four games, and Colorado yet to concede at all in 2017. Isobel Dalton came off the bench to give a good account of herself for half an hour in the Buffaloes’ 6-0 win over UC Riverside last week, which will hopefully lead to more minutes for the former Brisbane Roar midfielder.

Claire Urquhart has seen what at first glance appears to be increased minutes for Albany so far this season. However, a quick look back at the records shows that the junior has been given opportunities in early season games in all three years of her college career to this point, and game time going forward will be the real telling point of Urquhart’s progress. This week, the Great Danes face a pair of in-state opponents in Iona and Siena, a pair of teams probably more at Albany’s level after a challenging first three games saw them drop to an 0-3 record to start the season. Iona also started the season 0-3, and in fact only scored their first goals in their fourth game of the season as they picked up their first win last weekend, 2-1 against LIU Brooklyn. Siena, on the other hand, started the season far more promisingly, picking up a pair of wins before falling 3-0 to Georgia Southern on the road last weekend in a game in which they were significant underdogs. This pair of games will not only show the team where they stand against comparable opposition, but also hopefully ensure that Urquhart can secure a starting berth for the remainder of the season after a pair of false starts in her opening two seasons.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: at Iona – 5am, Saturday September 2; v Siena – 8am, Monday September 4

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Harvard – 9am, Saturday September 2; v Connecticut – 8am, Monday September 4

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v CSU Northridge – 5am, Sunday September 3; v BYU – 5am, Tuesday September 5

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at La Salle – 9am, Friday September 1; at Rutgers – 3am, Monday September 4

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at Monmouth – 9am, Saturday September 2; v La Salle – 3am, Monday September 4

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: at Southern Miss – 8am, Friday September 1; v Nicholls State – 8am, Saturday September 2

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v Nevada – 9am, Saturday September 2; v Detroit – 4am, Monday September 4

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: at Idaho – 11am, Saturday September 2; at Gonzaga – 6:30am, Monday September 4

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: v Eastern Washington – 9am, Friday September 1; v Yale – 9am, Tuesday September 5

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Drexel – 9am, Friday September 1; at Fairleigh Dickinson – 3am, Monday September 4

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v George Washington – 7am, Friday September 1; v Houston – 8am, Monday September 4

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: at Northern Kentucky – 4am, Monday September 4

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: at Grambling State – 6am, Saturday September 2; at Jackson State – 4am, Monday September 4

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: at East Carolina – 7am, Monday September 4

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: at San Francisco – 6am, Monday September 4

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: v Navy – 12pm, Saturday September 2; v Portland State – 6am, Monday September 4

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: at VMI – 6am, Friday September 1; v Loyola Maryland – 4am, Monday September 4

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: at Missouri State – 8am, Saturday September 2; v Louisville – 9:30am, Tuesday September 5

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v Georgetown – 9am, Saturday September 2; v Navy – 6am, Monday September 4

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: v Appalachian State – 10am, Monday September 4

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at BYU – 11am, Saturday September 2; at Weber State – 11am, Monday September 4

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Elon – 9am, Friday September 1; v Charlotte – 4am, Monday September 4

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Virginia Tech – 9am, Friday September 1; v Wisconsin – 4am, Monday September 4

Wyoming (Alisha Bass, Annika Clayton, Jessie Gentle, Jemma House, Georgia Rowntree)

This week: v UTEP – 8:30am, Saturday September 2; v McNeese State – 5am, Monday September 4

2017 Player Previews

34 players will represent Australia in NCAA Division I women’s soccer this year, down one from 2016. With players spread as far north as New York and Connecticut all the way to Los Angeles and even Hawaii, you’re never far from a College Matilda if you’re in the US, and we take a look at each and every one of them in this comprehensive preview.

Claire Urquhart (Junior, Midfielder, Albany, Brisbane)

Claire Urquhart has had an interesting, albeit possibly frustrating, college career at Albany to this point. In each of her first two seasons, the Queenslander was afforded a couple of starts early in the campaign, but was then rarely seen throughout the remainder of the schedule. With previous coach Caitlin Cucchiella stepping down from college coaching altogether, a new coach may allow Urquhart more playing time as she heads into her penultimate college season. With just six natural defenders on the roster, and two of those being freshmen, Urquhart may even be thrown in the deep end from the outset as she becomes one of the more senior members of the defensive corps.

Lauren Featherstone (Freshman, Midfielder, Central Connecticut State, Sydney)

Following the likes of Erin Herd, Nikola Deiter and Leah Blayney, Lauren Featherstone continues the pathway between Australia and Central Connecticut State, joining as a freshman in 2017. An Australian Schoolgirls representative, Featherstone is a product of the Macarthur Rams program, one of the most successful NPL programs in New South Wales over recent years. Adept at fullback or in midfield, Featherstone’s versatility will no doubt serve her well as she looks to settle into the lineup at Central Connecticut State in her freshman year.

Isobel Dalton (Junior, Midfielder, Colorado, Caloundra)

dalton-and-micah
Isobel Dalton and Teagan Micah will again face off in Pac-12 play.

The lone remaining Australian at Colorado following Kahlia Hogg’s graduation, Isobel Dalton comes into her second season with the Buffaloes looking to make more of an impact than in her initial campaign. The former Brisbane Roar midfielder featured in seven matches in 2016, but averaged only 11 minutes per contest as the likes of star freshman Taylor Kornieck saw most of the available minutes not already allocated to the previous year’s starters. However, with minutes in midfield opening up following the graduation of a number of starters, Dalton will have a chance to fight for increased playing time in 2017.

Emma Heckenberg (Junior, Midfielder, Drexel, Melbourne)

A move from the frontline into a deeper position worked wonders for Emma Heckenberg in her sophomore season in 2016, with a spectacular transformation from fringe player to vital part of a Drexel side that reached the Colonial Athletic Association championship game before going down 3-0 to Northeastern. Heckenberg played in 19 of the Dragons’ 20 games, starting on 13 occasions. This allowed the Victorian to increase her playing time from a paltry 246 minutes in 2015 to a comparatively mind-boggling 1378 minutes in 2016. With the Dragons losing a couple of major pieces but returning even more, continuity may be key to another deep conference tournament run, with Heckenberg seemingly vital to these chances.

Isabel Hodgson (Junior, Midfielder, East Tennessee State, Adelaide)

A move into the attack paid dividends for Isabel Hodgson in 2016. (Photo Credit: Dakota Hamilton)

A move out of the backline into a more advanced role worked wonders for Isabel Hodgson last year, culminating in five goals and a tie for team high with nine assists, including the opening goal of the Southern Conference championship game in which East Tennessee State eventually fell 2-1 to Samford to come agonisingly close to securing an NCAA Tournament berth. Hodgson had the most assists of any Australian in NCAA Division I last season, and also picked up the Breakout Player of the Year and Sophomore of the Year awards, and a share of the Midfielder of the Year award with Nicholls State senior Jess Coates. Hodgson is once again listed as a defender on the East Tennessee State roster, but if last season’s successes are anything to go by, the South Australian won’t be spending much time in the backline.

Sam Roff (Sophomore, Defender, Fairleigh Dickinson, Canberra)

Adept in either defence or as a holding midfielder, Sam Roff slotted straight into the Fairleigh Dickinson lineup as a freshman and enjoyed a quite outstanding first season in college. The former Canberra United training partner started 18 of the 19 games in which she played, and her defensive work saw the freshman named to the Northeast Conference All-Rookie team, a just reward for her work in a solid Fairleigh Dickinson defence. The Knights do lose one defensive starter from 2016 to graduation, meaning that Roff will pick up more responsibility in 2017, but it is a challenge that Roff has already shown glimpses of being capable of undertaking.

Priya Gakhar (Junior, Forward, Grambling State, Canberra)

Priya Gakhar comes into the college ranks a little later than some players, joining Grambling State for her junior year. Primarily a reserve team player for Woden-Weston FC in the ACT National Premier League Women, Gakhar has also stepped up at times for the first team, and also has experience playing in the F-League futsal competition. In a shortened 11 game schedule last season, Grambling State managed just one win, and scored just eight goals, three of which came in their win over Alcorn State. Gakhar will be one player tasked with improving the team’s scoring output, especially as only one player who even scored a goal will be returning to the side in 2017.

Sandra Hill (Freshman, Defender, Grand Canyon, Canberra)

One of five freshman amongst the eight defenders on Grand Canyon’s roster in 2017, Sandra Hill will commence her college career with an immediate battle for a starting spot as the Antelopes head into their first season as a full member of NCAA Division I. A fairly regular fixture in Tuggeranong United’s NPL side over the last two seasons, Hill played alongside Nicholls State’s Kristy Helmers at club level, as well as former Sydney FC and Canberra United player Meg McLaughlin. Hill joins a team that has compiled seven wins in each of the past two seasons, so it is certainly becoming time for Grand Canyon to kick on and put together a 10 win season, especially now as the team is eligible for the postseason for the first time.

Kiri Dale (Sophomore, Midfielder, Hawaii, Mullumbimby)

Following two seasons at Iona, Kiri Dale has transferred to Hawaii for a challenge at a higher level, which she will certainly receive playing for the Rainbow Wahine. After redshirting her first season at Iona, Dale slotted straight into the lineup for the Gaels, starting in nearly every game of 2016. Earning that level of playing time will certainly be tougher in Honolulu, but Dale’s versatility as a defender with a certain attacking prowess may see her gain time in different positions throughout the season. However, that remains to be seen, and as is the case with any transfer student-athlete, there are a lot of questions that will be answered as the season progresses.

Emily Hulbert (Senior, Defender, Hofstra, Melbourne)

A mainstay for her first two seasons at Hofstra, Emily Hulbert’s junior season was unfortunately cut short due to injury. The former Melbourne Victory player played in 20 or more games in each of her first two seasons, but was restricted to just nine appearances in 2017. However, Hofstra compiled a 6-2-1 record with Hulbert on the pitch, a significant contrast to their rather indifferent 4-5 record whilst the Australian was out. Able to play either in defence or midfield and on either flank, Hulbert’s ability to get forward has seen her chip in three goals and an assist, including two game-winners, as she heads into her final season of college soccer.

Monique Iannella (Senior, Defender, Hofstra, Melbourne)

Originally recruited by Hofstra before eventually choosing Texas for 2016, Monique Iannella has transferred to the Pride, where she will play alongside fellow Victorian, Emily Hulbert. Despite injury, Iannella enjoyed a relatively successful first college season, starting 12 of the 13 matches in which she played and tallying over 900 minutes of playing time as Texas finished with an 8-9-1 record in a perhaps slightly disappointing season for the Longhorns. Iannella now moves to Hofstra, where her presence will no doubt be cherished among a roster with just seven other recognised defenders, many of whom are likely to slot into the midfield at times.

And so preseason begins 🙌🏽 ..stay tuned for the attractive soccer facials to come out 🙃 ft baby bib #HUWS 🦁⚽️

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Julia De Angelis (Sophomore, Midfielder, Indiana, Canberra)

Touted as one of the best Australian freshmen in 2016, Julia De Angelis has unfortunately suffered through a frustrating run of injuries since arriving at Indiana. The Young Matildas and Canberra United midfielder had the start of her college career delayed, but did manage to accumulate 15 appearances, albeit on apparently restricted minutes. Whilst on field though, De Angelis, looked right at home in the Big Ten, one of the premier conferences in NCAA Division I. However, yet another injury will see De Angelis miss out on playing this season after undergoing surgery in March.

Claudia Jenkins (Freshman, Goalkeeper, La Salle, Adelaide)

For a couple of years, there had been just one Australian goalkeeper in NCAA Division I: Georgia Rowntree. Last year, Teagan Micah doubled that number, and now Claudia Jenkins has made it a trio by joining La Salle University in Philadelphia. The former Adelaide United W-League player, who spent 17 games on the bench for the Lady Reds, has been ever-present for Fulham United in NPL South Australia over the last two seasons. Jenkins helped her side to a 2016 preliminary final appearance where they forced Adelaide City all the way to penalties, eventually going down 5-4 in the shootout. Jenkins was among a number of players with college experience in that side, including East Tennessee State’s Isabel Hodgson, former Colgate midfielder Dylan Holmes, and former Middle Tennessee State defender Nenita Burgess. Jenkins will have a challenge on her hands attempting to unseat redshirt senior goalkeeper Larisa Zambelli from the starting job at La Salle, but even if her freshman season is more of a learning experience, the South Australian will be in the box seat for a starting spot between the sticks going forward.

Caitlin Cantrill (Sophomore, Midfielder, LSU, Canberra)

The lone Australian on a power conference team without W-League playing experience, Caitlin Cantrill nonetheless made her mark at LSU in her freshman season after training with Canberra United in previous years. The midfielder started the first four games of her college career and made 12 appearances in total, also picking up the first goal of her career against Julia De Angelis’ Indiana side, albeit in a game that De Angelis missed through injury. Cantrill will have to fight off the challenge of LSU’s handful of incoming freshman midfielders, but with a season of experience under her belt, the Canberran is certainly in the box seat to continue to receive playing time in her sophomore year.

Nyomi Devine (Senior, Defender, Murray State, Beaudesert)

The rock at the back for Murray State, Nyomi Devine has been a vital part of the Racers’ defence since her freshman season. From starting 13 of her 17 appearances in her freshman season, Devine started all 21 games in Murray State’s Ohio Valley Conference championship run in 2015 before 2016’s campaign was hindered slightly due to injury. As well as being an outstanding defender, Devine also added an attacking string to her bow in 2016. The Queenslander tallied the first assist of her career, whilst her only goal of the season – and her career to this point – was the game-winner against Tennessee-Martin. With 7 of her 11 shots for the season on target, her 64% clip is certainly a number worthy of any attacking player.

Harriet Withers (Senior, Forward, Murray State, Murwillumbah)

If Nyomi Devine is a defensive rock for the Racers, then Harriet Withers is an attacking weapon, and will be hoping to lead the line as the Racers look to atone for last year’s disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to SIU-Edwardsville in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament that cut their almost two-season long unbeaten streak at the worst possible time. An exceptional goalscorer, Withers has tallied 25 goals and 13 assists in her 58 games for the Racers to this point. A ten goal this season would not only cap an outstanding college career for Withers, but deliver the Palm Beach product the all-time goalscoring record for Murray State.

Tenille Harberger (Freshman, Midfielder, Nicholls State, Mackay)

A five-sport athlete at St. Patrick’s College in Mackay, Tenille Harberger becomes the latest in what is becoming a long line of Australians to join Nicholls State. Aside from representing her school, Harberger has developed into a goalscoring midfielder in the Mackay regional competition, with 18 goals in her 22 appearances for Mackay Lions in 2016. Harberger will no doubt be hoping to pick up some of the minutes that have opened up following the graduation of fellow Australian Jess Coates, but there will be quite a fight for that spot amongst what is a young midfield corps for the Colonels.

Kristy Helmers (Sophomore, Forward, Nicholls State, Canberra)

An instant sensation at Nicholls State, Kristy Helmers comes into her sophomore season in Thibodaux on the back of an outstanding freshman year. The Canberra product was behind only fellow Australian Jess Coates in terms of attacking output, tallying six goals and five assists and starting all 16 of the Colonels’ games. Helmers received a share of the College Matildas Freshman of the Year award in 2016, and if she can handle the additional responsibility that will surely come her way following Coates’ graduation, she may just parlay that into a Sophomore of the Year award in 2017.

Gaby Bentley (Sophomore, Midfielder, Old Dominion, Adelaide)

Gaby Bentley was used sparingly in her first season at Old Dominion, and will certainly be hoping to increase her playing time in 2017. The former Adelaide United W-League midfielder featured in just two games in 2016, but was used far more in the team’s 2017 spring exhibition games, playing both in midfield and up front. A number of attacking options from the 2016 season have since graduated, leaving some playing time on the table, but Bentley will still have to fight off the challenge from the incoming freshmen if she is to pick up those additional minutes.

Olivia Ellis (Freshman, Defender, Oregon State, Melbourne)

Lulu Pullar and Kahlia Hogg may be gone from the Pac-12’s Aussie contingent, but Melbourne City fullback Olivia Ellis has shored up the numbers by joining Oregon State. Whilst Ellis featured just twice for Melbourne City in her two seasons with the club, the young fullback featured 19 times for FC Bulleen in NPL Victoria in 2016 as the Lions finished third before going down to Geelong Galaxy United in the first week of the finals. Ellis was also involved with the Young Matildas at the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship, picking up two goals in the team’s 20-0 demolition of Timor-Leste’s full national team. With the Oregon State roster featuring just seven defenders, there will certainly be chances for Ellis to play, either as an immediate starter or off the bench, as Oregon State look to improve on last season’s 3-8 record in Pac-12 play, as well as their overall record of 8-10-2, their fifth consecutive season under .500.

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

After an extended stint on the sidelines in 2016 with yet another knee injury, Ellie Papalexiou returns for her senior year at Pacific desperate to make an impact on her final season in college soccer. Papalexiou’s freshman season saw her play in 17 games and become a vital part of the Tigers’ side, before injury cruelly struck the Palm Beach product down and forced her to miss the entire 2015 season. 2016 saw Papalexiou play seven games, before succumbing to injury for a second time. In her brief stints on the pitch, Papalexiou has exuded class, and it will now be a matter of putting that together for a full season for the first time since 2014 for the predominantly left-sided utility player.

Maddy Cornell (Senior, Defender, Southeast Missouri State, Nowra)

After starting her college career as a utility player who slotted in where required, Maddy Cornell has well and truly cemented her spot in the rotation up front for Southeast Missouri State heading into her final season. Cornell has played in 18 games in each of the last two seasons, and earned three starts in her junior year on her way to averaging 40 minutes per contest. Despite playing over 700 minutes, Cornell failed to find the back of the net in 2016, and this will be one facet in which she will need to improve if she is to increase that playing time yet again in 2017. Junior Lauren Kaempfe will lead the line for the Redhawks following the graduation of 12-goal striker Natasha Minor, but with Minor taking nearly half of the team’s goals with her, all of the forwards, including Cornell, will have to step up and take on more of the scoring load in 2017.

Shelby Milton (Sophomore, Defender, St. Francis, Wollongong)

After a year playing in NCAA Division II with St. Joseph’s in Indiana in 2015, Shelby Milton got out just in time as the university suspended operations earlier this year. Milton then transferred to St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, and hit the ground running with the Red Flash, making 19 appearances in her first season, and starting 9 games. Whilst the St. Francis defence was in the bottom half of the national rankings for goals conceded in 2016, they were certainly a young group last season. With a year of experience under their belts, they should see their defensive numbers improve this season and potentially improve on their 10-12 record from 2016.

Beattie Goad (Sophomore, Midfielder, Stanford, Melbourne)

Beattie Goad made the most of a shift to fullback in her freshman year. (Photo Credit: Hector Garcia-Molina/ISIPhotos.com)

Probably the most well-known of the Australian college players among the wider football community, Beattie Goad came to Stanford as a winger but reinvented herself as a fullback in the opening stages of her career with the Cardinal. Making her debut at left fullback, Goad was utilised on both sides of defence before making a move to a more attacking role later in the season for a Stanford side whose chances for a title were hindered by an injury to US national team midfielder Andi Sullivan and then extinguished by Santa Clara in a penalty shootout in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Victorian also picked up her first goal with literally the last kick of the regular season, tying a bow on a 4-1 win over arch rivals California. Having shown her ability to play in a number of positions, there will almost certainly be a spot for Goad somewhere after she made 10 starts in 21 appearances in 2016.

Paige Hayward (Senior, Forward, Texas Southern, Sydney)

The reigning College Matildas Player of the Year, Paige Hayward was recently named to the All-SWAC preseason second team, a nod to her supreme goalscoring ability amongst all players in the conference. The Sydneysider banged home 13 goals in 2016, including a perfect five of five from the spot and three game-winning goals, as well as chipping in five assists in 19 appearances  to secure a spot in the All-SWAC Second Team. Alongside her College Matildas Player of the Year award, Hayward was also the top goalscorer amongst Australians, and was awarded Junior of the Year, Forward of the Year, and Most Consistent Player.

Demi Koulizakis (Sophomore, Forward, Texas Tech, Sydney)

Demi Koulizakis returns to Lubbock in 2017 looking to make just as many appearances as she was able to in 2016, but perhaps turn those into more extended stints on the pitch. The former Sydney University forward featured 18 times for Texas Tech in her freshman year, but averaged only just over 20 minutes per contest despite starting on three occasions. In spite of this, things did start looking up for Koulizakis late in the season, as she played 47 minutes against TCU before rounding out the regular season with 69 minutes of playing time in a final day win over Oklahoma that clinched a Big 12 Tournament berth for the Red Raiders. The former Western Sydney Wanderers W-League player will now be aiming to ensure those extended outings become the norm, rather than the exception in 2017.

Teagan Micah (Sophomore, Goalkeeper, UCLA, Brisbane)

Teagan Micah came to UCLA seemingly set for a major battle for the starting goalkeeper berth at UCLA, but instead slotted seamlessly into the Bruins’ lineup, playing the whole season for a team that eventually went down to national runner-up West Virginia in a penalty shootout (that Micah didn’t take part in) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The freshman won two College Matildas awards for an outstanding season, earning a share of the Freshman of the Year award with Nicholls State’s Kristy Helmers, as well as a share of the Goalkeeper of the Year award with Wyoming’s Georgia Rowntree. Micah became the first true freshman to start a game for UCLA since 2004, and was also named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week three times in an outstanding first season in Westwood. Recently, Micah was an emergency call-up to the Matildas squad that won the Tournament of Nations against the United States, Japan, and Brazil, filling a spot on the bench for the 6-1 win over Brazil after regular starter Lydia Williams suffered an injury.

Kate Swartwout (Sophomore, Defender, Western Carolina, Gold Coast)

Gold Coast born but North Carolina raised, Kate Swartwout slotted straight into the lineup at Western Carolina, a college that could almost be considered local for the Lake Norman product. Swartwout featured in 16 games for a Catamounts side that finished with an 8-12 record, not flash by any means, but certainly something to build on in 2017. Although primarily a defender, Swartwout does have the ability to play in midfield, and did pop up with one assist last season, helping Western Carolina to a 3-2 win over Kennesaw State. Assists are nice, but Swartwout’s main focus is keeping the ball out of the net rather than putting it in the one at the other end.

Lorena Bugden (Freshman, Midfielder, William & Mary, Sydney)

Lorena Bugden links up with Australian assistant coach Vanessa Mann at William & Mary this season. (Photo Credit: Eric Berry)

William & Mary’s first Australian recruit since fellow Australian, Vanessa Mann, became assistant coach for the Tribe, Lorena Bugden arrives at Williamsburg with significant club experience. With a season of W-League experience at Western Sydney Wanderers under her belt, and two NPLNSW titles, one each with FNSW Institute and Sydney University, Bugden has carved out quite a career even at this early stage. Having played everywhere from fullback to up top, the freshman can certainly slot in wherever she is required, but will hopefully play in her preferred advanced midfield position. An Australian Schoolgirls representative and national youth team camp invitee, Bugden will certainly be one to watch this upcoming season.

Alisha Bass (Senior, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

Alisha Bass has been a vital part of the Wyoming lineup for her entire college career. (Photo Credit: Ted Brummond)

Whether it’s in the centre of defence, up front, or in behind the strikers as an attacking midfielder, Alisha Bass has been one of the standout players in the Mountain West Conference for the last few seasons. Having redshirted her first year at Laramie, this will be Bass’s fifth year with the Cowgirls, but the senior has long been one of the leaders of the team. Bass topped the Cowgirls in minutes played and assists in 2016, tallying four of the latter in addition to three goals, which included a stunning header with 10 seconds remaining in double overtime against Utah Valley. A highly technically adept player, Bass put nearly 60% of her shots on target last season to also lead Wyoming in that category.

Annika Clayton (Junior, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

Alisha Bass may be the creative force of the Wyoming attack, but Annika Clayton provides an industrious counterpoint in midfield for the Cowgirls. Ever-present in the middle of the park in her freshman season, 2016 was a slightly more stop-start campaign for the former Sydney University midfielder. Clayton was only able to garner one start in her 11 appearances as injury forced her to sit out at various times. However, Clayton was able to tally three assists for the season, which were enough for third in the team, and tallied a goal against Idaho State. With 2016’s injury problems hopefully behind her, 2017 looks to be far more promising for the Sydneysider.

Jessie Gentle (Junior, Midfielder, Wyoming, Woolgoolga)

An occasional starter but a regular fixture in the side, Jessie Gentle has carved out a position for herself within the Wyoming roster, being deployed in a number of positions over the last couple of years. Whether up front on the wing or in a fullback role, Gentle is now one of the mainstays of the Cowgirls’ lineup, playing 39 games over her first two seasons, 22 of those as part of the starting lineup. Although Gentle tallied just one goal last season, it was an important one: the game winner against Fresno State which earned Wyoming its first away win in conference play of the 2016 season.

Jemma House (Junior, Forward, Wyoming, Newcastle)

Already a star of college soccer in Wyoming after two emphatically successful years at Laramie County Community College, Jemma House has made the 50 mile journey to the state’s flagship university for the final two seasons of her college career. With 47 goals and 14 assists in 44 junior college games, House was a two-time All American at LCCC, and was also named to the NJCAA All-Tournament team in both 2015 and 2016. Now, House comes to Wyoming ready to fight for the chance to lead the line and potentially be on the end of some of the magical passes that fellow Australian Alisha Bass has delivered time and again for Cowgirls strikers over the last few seasons.

Georgia Rowntree (Senior, Goalkeeper, Wyoming, Sydney)

Georgia Rowntree has firmly established herself between the sticks for Wyoming. (Photo Credit: Ted Brummond)

Georgia Rowntree came into the 2016 season fighting for a starting berth, but emerged as the primary option between the sticks for the entire season to play all but seven minutes of the season and also earn a share of the 2016 College Matildas Goalkeeper of the Year with UCLA’s Teagan Micah. Having started games since her freshman year, Rowntree sits firmly in the Wyoming top 10 lists for minutes played and career shutouts, and is also second all-time for goals against average. Her eight clean sheets in 2016 also set a single-season record for the Cowgirls, and the Sydneysider needs just four more to move into the top 3 all time for career shutouts at Wyoming. Although Rowntree will face competition from the other two goalkeepers in the Cowgirls’ squad, she certainly has the inside running at this point.

NCAA Tournament Preview

This season, seven Australians across six teams will contest the NCAA Tournament. Three of those sides – Stanford, UCLA, and USC – could be considered legitimate challengers for the title, whilst Colorado and Texas Tech could definitely shake things up and spring an upset or two. Beattie Goad and Stanford have secured the overall top seed, but UCLA and USC have also managed to grab seeded positions and could use those favourable draws to their advantage.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

First Round: v Houston Baptist – 2pm, Saturday November 12

Live on Stanford Women’s Soccer Facebook

Beattie Goad
Beattie Goad (Photo Credit: Bill Dally/ISIPhotos.com)

As the overall top seed in the tournament, Stanford go in as favourites to make it to San Jose for the College Cup. First up, they take on Houston Baptist, who qualified for the tournament as champions of the Southland Conference. The Huskies have compiled a 10-10-1 record this season, and sit a lowly 220th in the RPI rankings. If Stanford get through this first game, they will take on the winner of Long Beach State and Santa Clara, two teams in the top 50 of the RPI rankings. Expect to see Beattie Goad play a cameo off the bench for Stanford, as she has done in recent weeks, unless the Cardinal get out to a big lead, which is possible. If that happens, there may be scope for Beattie to play a lot more minutes as some starters are rested.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

First Round: v Seattle – 2pm, Saturday November 12

Live on Pac-12 UCLA Stream

The 4th seed in their quarter of the draw, UCLA will be hard-pressed to reach the final weekend as they must go through heavyweights West Virginia (or a team that defeats them) to reach even the quarter-finals. Before that though, they must take on Seattle in the first round. The WAC champions, Seattle are 93rd in the RPI rankings with a 14-5-1 record to this point. UCLA should win this game comfortably, but a second round matchup with Top 20 side Nebraska would be far tougher. However, with Teagan Micah doing her best impression of a brick wall between the sticks for the Bruins, the path through to a potential game with West Virginia should be much more smooth.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton, Kahlia Hogg)

First Round: v Oklahoma State – 6am, Sunday November 13

Live on Pac-12 Colorado Stream

Of the four Pac-12 teams featuring Aussies to reach the tournament, Colorado are the lowest in the RPI rankings and, as such, face the toughest test in the first round. The 29th ranked Buffaloes face off against 56th ranked Oklahoma State on their home patch. Colorado do have a reasonable history of making things happen in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Sweet 16 in 2013 after knocking off Denver and BYU in unexpected wins, and taking North Carolina to overtime in 2014 as the Buffaloes came incredibly close to a huge upset. If Colorado can manage a win, they will almost certainly play #1 seed South Carolina in the first round, unless Aussie student assistant coach Shelbi Vienna-Hallam can help Alabama State conjure what would be a ludicrously massive upset. We may not see a lot of Isobel Dalton and Kahlia Hogg in this game due to various circumstances, but you never know how these things pan out.

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

First Round: at Utah – 7am, Sunday November 13

Live on Pac-12 Utah Stream

Texas Tech were forced to wait until Selection Monday to learn if they would make the tournament, as they sat firmly on the bubble. Fortunately, Demi Koulizakis and the Red Raiders were granted a bid, and they will travel to Utah for their first round game. At 21st in the RPI rankings, Utah will go into this game as favourites against 42nd ranked Texas Tech. If Texas Tech can manage a victory first up, things only get tougher as they will likely take on ACC champions Florida State. Demi Koulizakis was only seeing limited minutes earlier in the season, but her playing time has exploded recently and it will be interesting to see if this continues through the tournament.

USC (Lulu Pullar)

First Round: v Eastern Washington – 8am, Sunday November 13

Live on Pac-12 USC Stream

The second seed in their quarter of the draw, USC were close to snagging a top seed until their final day loss to UCLA and Florida’s SEC championship victory. The Women of Troy come into this game against Big Sky champion Eastern Washington as hot favourites to advance to the second round and a game against either TCU or Texas A&M. USC sit in the same section of the draw as Demi Koulizakis and Texas Tech, and whilst it might take some upsets, we could see a Sweet 16 matchup between the two Aussies. How much playing time Lulu Pullar gets in that potential game, or indeed in any other, remains to be seen, though.

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

First Round: v Connecticut – 10am, Sunday November 13

Live on Husky Vision ($$)

Last season, Claire Urquhart played the first few games, then saw no playing time for the rest of the season until the NCAA Tournament. This season has followed a similar course so far, and we may yet see Claire in the NCAA Tournament again as the Great Danes take on Connecticut in the first round. Certainly, it will be another tough game for Albany. Last season, Penn State were a #1 seed and won the NCAA title after beating Albany in the first round. This season, Connecticut are #8 in the RPI even if they haven’t secured a seeding for the tournament. It’s going to be hard for Albany to get through the first round, but upsets are certainly more likely in soccer than they are in many other sports.