2016 Player Previews

2016 will see a massive 33 Australians suiting up in NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer, an increase of 6 on last year and nearly double the number of players we saw in 2014. Ten of these players are freshmen, whilst one newcomer, Isobel Dalton, is an NAIA transfer from Lindsey Wilson College. With no less than 13 players, including 4 freshmen, possessing W-League experience and several others featuring for youth national teams, there is definitely plenty of Aussie talent in the college ranks this season.

Claire Urquhart (Sophomore, Defender, Albany, Brisbane)

Claire was used sparingly at Albany in 2015, but returns in 2016 ready to have more of an impact in defence. The Albany defence is exceedingly young this season, with four sophomores and one freshman comprising the five natural defenders in the squad, so opportunities may just open up for the sophomore from Brisbane. Claire played 5 games last season, starting in 2 of these contests, as Albany won the America East title before going down to eventual national champions Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Isobel Dalton (Sophomore, Midfielder, Colorado, Sunshine Coast)

Isobel adds to the Australian contingent at Colorado following a season playing NAIA soccer in Kentucky with Lindsey Wilson College, helping the Blue Raiders to a national championship final berth. A former Brisbane Roar W-League player, Isobel has also played in England’s Women’s Super League for Bristol Academy before making the move to the US. Isobel played in 23 games for Lindsey Wilson, scoring 7 goals and also contributing a pair of assists for the Blue Raiders.

Kahlia Hogg (Senior, Defender/Midfielder, Colorado, Canberra)

Kahlia had an excellent first season for Colorado in 2014 after transferring from Florida State, and looked set to continue in the same vein in her senior season. Unfortunately, after starting in six games and playing an average of 85 minutes, Kahlia suffered an injury and was forced to sit out the remainder of the season. Fortunately, Kahlia has been awarded an additional season and will compete again as a senior in 2016, looking to make amends for 2015. One of the fittest players in the team, Kahlia averaged over 85 minutes of playing time per game in 2015, playing a full 90 minutes in four of her six games as Colorado conceded less than 0.7 goals per game with Kahlia on the pitch.

Emma Heckenberg (Sophomore, Midfielder, Drexel, Melbourne)

Emma made a reasonable if not spectacular start to her college career last season, featuring in 8 matches. The Victorian forward also started two of these games, both of which were conference games. The Drexel forward line is young, but features Vanessa Kara, who scored 11 goals last season, which represented almost half of the team’s offensive output. With Kara a lock to start again this season, Emma and the remaining forwards will be fighting for the other spot up front. Emma was a star in the classroom last season though, picking up the CAA Commissioner’s Academic Award.

Isabel Hodgson (Sophomore, Defender, East Tennessee State, Adelaide)

Isabel enjoyed a fantastic first season at East Tennessee State, quickly establishing herself as the team’s starting right back. A product of Adelaide United’s W-League team, Isabel played in all 19 games for the Buccaneers in 2015 as the team finished with a respectable 9-9-1 record. With star midfielder and Austrian national team player Sarah Zadrazil having graduated following the 2015 season, the returning starters will all have to step up if the Buccaneers are to be competitive again in 2016 and Isabel is no different.

Sam Roff (Freshman, Midfielder, Fairleigh Dickinson, Canberra)

One of four players from the same ACT Academy of Sport class to make the move to Division I this year, Sam links up with a fellow Australian at Fairleigh Dickinson, with assistant coach Julia Bazi hailing from Sydney. Primarily a midfielder but also with the ability to play in defence, Sam has been a member of the ACT Academy of Sport for three seasons and also trained with W-League club Canberra United before making the move to Fairleigh Dickinson. The Knights went 16-6 last season, winning the Northeast Conference title and only narrowly losing to Rutgers in the first round of the national tournament, going down 1-0. However, they have lost a massive ten seniors to graduation and star Canadian forward Rachel Hoekstra is transferring to Georgia Southern, taking with her 16 of the side’s 50 goals from last season, so expect this to be a rebuilding season for the team.

Emily Hulbert (Junior, Defender/Midfielder, Hofstra, Melbourne)

An instrumental part of Hofstra’s side for two seasons, Emily will again be part of a solid Hofstra side that will look to limit the damage of the graduation of English international and NWSL player Leah Galton, who was the star of the Pride team last season. Emily’s chances last season were slightly down from 2014, starting just 4 matches in comparison to the 14 she started two seasons ago. Nonetheless, the fullback was able to contribute enough to earn the 2015 College Matildas Defender of the Year award. With another season under her belt, she may just have enough in her locker to win the same award again.

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

An integral part of Canberra United’s W-League squad since 2014, Julia will no doubt be one of the top Australian freshmen in college this season as she joins an Indiana side desperate to improve on last seasons 3-10-6 record. Julia has represented Australia at several youth team levels and was also named Canberra United’s Rising Star in both 2014 and 2015. With a pair of midfield spots opening up in 2016 following the graduation of two players, Julia will certainly have the chance to earn a starting spot from the outset.

Kiri Dale (Sophomore, Defender, Iona, Mullumbimby)

One of no less than five Palm Beach products playing in Division I this season, Kiri unfortunately did not see any playing time in her freshman year, but that will surely just make her hungrier to make an impact in her sophomore year. Iona are yet to reveal their freshman class for 2016, but with only four natural defenders returning from last season, this may just be Kiri’s chance to shine and establish herself going forward for Iona. With the Gaels only winning 3 games last year and giving up 49 goals in 19 games, that defence is going to have to stand up this season if the team is to compete.

Caitlin Cantrill (Freshman, Midfielder, LSU, Canberra)

One of the first Australians to commit to a college amongst this year’s freshmen, Caitlin joins an LSU side looking to progress from last season’s SEC semi-final berth and a first round loss to South Alabama in the NCAA Tournament. They do have a slight issue though, that being the loss of nine players to graduation after the 2015 season. Whilst this may be a transition season of sorts for LSU, it also offers Caitlin the chance to see plenty of playing time from the outset. A former member of the Australian Under 17 national team, Caitlin is yet another of the ACT Academy of Sport graduates in this year’s freshman class.

Laura Johns (Senior, Forward, Massachusetts, Adelaide)

The 2015 College Matildas Breakout Player of the Year, Laura tallied the first goal of her college career last season and also notched four assists, a marked improvement on the total of one she managed in the previous two years. More notably, Laura transitioned from what had mainly been a rotational role off the bench to a starter for the majority of the 2015 season. One of four Australian seniors this year, Laura’s continued rise at Massachusetts may just make her the dark horse for the College Matildas Senior of the Year award this season.

Nyomi Devine (Junior, Defender, Murray State, Gold Coast)

A starter from the outset at Murray State, Nyomi was instrumental in keeping things tight at the back during last season’s perfect conference slate as Murray State won the Ohio Valley conference title. Whilst fellow Palm Beach product Harriet Withers may have received the accolades in 2015, there is no doubting that Nyomi was one of the key parts of the Racers’ defence which conceded just 22 goals in 21 games in 2015. Nyomi was also named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Tournament team to go along with her championship ring.

Jade Horcicka (Freshman, Midfielder, Murray State, Gold Coast)

The newest member of the Palm Beach contingent at Murray State, Jade has not featured for the senior Palm Beach team nearly as much as both Nyomi Devine and Harriet Withers did before they moved on to college, but that doesn’t mean Jade doesn’t come with a solid pedigree. After a single appearance in the Palm Beach first team in 2015, Jade was a regular with the team in 2016 before leaving for college, and was also a mainstay of the Under 20s team last season. Jade has also played for the Queensland Schoolgirls side in 2014 and 2015. The Murray State midfield is burgeoning with players, but many are young and others are employed in other roles, so there may just be some playing time available for Jade early on. The early non-conference games will be telltale, though.

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

Harriet enjoyed a solid first season for Murray State in 2014, scoring six goals and contributing 2 assists in 20 games. That was simply a precursor for an exceptional 2015 season which saw the striker win College Matildas Player Of The Year honours. Harriet banged home 11 goals and also tallied 7 assists as the Racers enjoyed a perfect Ohio Valley conference season before going down in a 1-0 loss to Ole Miss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Harriet will need to have another season of similar ilk if Murray State are going to have a chance of repeating, as they lose 11 goals and 11 assists from last season through the graduation of Taylor Stevens and Marissa Burroughs.

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

A broken wrist put paid to what should have been a glorious senior season for Jess, but after a long wait has been awarded an additional season and will get the chance to play out a proper senior campaign. Jess’ attacking partner, Spencer Valdespino, has now graduated but that may open up a chance for Jess to combine with a fellow Australian, freshman Kristy Helmers, in her senior season. With seven assists in her junior year in 2014, expect Jess to once again be feeding the strikers perfectly – the only question from there is whether they can step up to fill the void left by Valdespino.

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

Kristy Helmers will be one of the Nicholls State forwards tasked with making up Spencer Valdespino’s 14 goal tally from last season. With only four recognised forwards in the Nicholls State squad this season, Kristy will no doubt be thrust into the action from the outset. One of four recent ACTAS graduates to be starting college this season, Kristy scored 12 goals in 14 appearances in last season’s Capital Football WPL, following up with 7 goals in 7 appearances this season.

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

A dreaded ACL injury put paid to Ellie’s season in 2015, but the fullback returns this season as a redshirt sophomore looking to showcase the kind of form that saw her enjoy a successful 2014 season with Pacific. With a new coach on board in Stockton, Ellie will be forced to prove herself once again, but was able to do this as a freshman and there’s no reason she won’t be able to do so again. Able to play either at left back or on the wing, this versatility should stand Ellie in good stead as she looks to earn back her starting position.

Price Keogh (Sophomore, Defender, San Francisco, Charlotte)

Price represents a slight change of pace amongst the 34 Australians in NCAA Division I this season in that she is actually from Charlotte, North Carolina. The 5’4 defender played in just the one game in her first season in San Francisco, but with two of the team’s starting defenders finishing their careers in 2015, opportunities will surely open up for Price. San Francisco had a reasonably solid year in 2015, finishing 13-4-3 and finishing in 2nd place in the West Coast Conference. Unfortunately, the WCC does not play a postseason tournament, denying the Dons an opportunity to secure a bid to the national tournament, with the team well out of the at-large picture.

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

Three becomes two with regards to the number of Australians at Southeast Missouri State following midfielder Jenna Collingridge’s graduation. Maddy Cornell is the more senior of the two, with the versatile fullback moving into her junior season in 2016. Maddy featured in 18 games in 2015, starting six of these, which is double the number of both appearances and starts that she saw in 2014. Maddy’s goal now will be to convert those 12 appearances off the bench into starts this year as Southeast Missouri State attempt to make a return trip to the Ohio Valley Conference championship game, with the aim this year to go one better than last year’s overtime loss to Murray State.

Siena Senatore (Sophomore, Defender, Southeast Missouri State, Canberra)

An Under 17 Australian representative before making the move to college, Siena took a few games to find her groove last season, but eventually became a vital part of the defence before suffering an injury late on in the season. After starting the first three games of the season, Siena came off the bench for a few weeks before being returned to the starting lineup as the Redhawks kept 4 clean sheets in a row in the space of 9 days. Siena sat for a couple of weeks with injury, but returns in 2016 ready to slot straight back into the starting lineup in the centre of defence.

Beattie Goad (Freshman, Midfielder, Stanford, Melbourne)

The undoubted star of the 2016 freshman class, Beattie already has a W-League title under her belt, having been an instrumental part of a Melbourne City side that finished undefeated in 2015/16. One of the best young Australian players, Beattie combined those football skills with outstanding academic achievement to open up the chance to play for Stanford, one of the most successful programs in NCAA women’s soccer. A pacy winger with excellent technical abilities, Beattie will face stiff competition for playing time from the likes of United States youth national team representatives Jordan DiBiasi and Andi Sullivan. However, Beattie has spent the year learning from some of the best players in the world, including Lisa De Vanna, and will push all the way for a spot in the lineup.

Alexandra Huynh (Senior, Defender, Troy, Sydney)

After three outstanding seasons at Colorado, Alexandra has this season made the move south to Troy for her senior year. A three year starter at Boulder, the centre back was almost ever-present for the Buffaloes save for an injury midway through her sophomore year. As a member of a Colorado defence that set school clean sheet records in 2015, Alexandra will no doubt be a vital part of the back line in her new team. Troy kept 10 clean sheets in winning 14 of 20 games last season, and with Alexandra now set to replace graduating stalwart Payton Donley in defence, Troy will be well placed to use defence as the foundation of a successful season in 2016.

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

The lone Australian player in the SWAC this season following the graduation of Alabama State’s Shelbi Vienna-Hallam, Paige transferred to Texas Southern in 2015 after a season of NAIA play, and immediately slotted into the team. Hayward played a full 90 minutes on six occasions last season, starting on all 17 occasions that she played. Hayward contributed 2 goals and 5 assists in 2015 as Texas Southern compiled an 8-11 record, going down to Alabama State in the first round of the SWAC Tournament. With no seniors amongst the forwards in 2015, Paige and her fellow strikers will have the opportunity to improve on last year’s output. They may have to if the team is to stay competitive, with last season’s starting goalkeeper and two defenders graduating after the 2015 season.

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

The scorer of the W-League’s 900th goal, Demi saw regular playing time for Western Sydney Wanderers last season but has now made the move to the Lone Star state to become Australia’s sole representative in the powerful Big 12 conference this season. Able to play in the midfield or up front, Demi is likely to be used in a more attacking role at Texas Tech. Demi will be part of the group tasked with replacing graduating Canadian national team player Janine Beckie, who is now playing with the NWSL’s Houston Dash.

Teagan Micah (Freshman, Goalkeeper, UCLA, Brisbane)

Teagan made the move from Brisbane to Western Sydney this past W-League season, but that was nothing in comparison to the jump the goalkeeper has made in 2016. UCLA have been one of the most successful programs of the last decade, winning a national title and producing players such as Lauren Holiday, Sydney Leroux, Samantha Mewis, Megan Oyster, Caprice Dydasco, Abby Dahlkemper, Sarah Killion, McCall Zerboni, Zakiya Bywaters, Lauren Barnes, and Katelyn Rowland. Teagan will have to fight for every minute of playing time, but with last season’s backup Arielle Schechtman making the move to Georgetown, it will now be a fight between 3 rather than 4 players for the starting spot.

Lulu Pullar (Freshman, Defender, USC, Brisbane)

Lulu had been on USC’s radar for over a year, and made the move to Los Angeles in January to get a headstart on her college career. Set to be used in either the back line or anchoring the midfield, Lulu has represented Australian Schoolgirls and has trained with Brisbane Roar’s W-League squad before moving to college. Having already seen plenty of playing time in USC’s spring friendlies, Lulu is well-placed to hit the ground running when competitive play starts in late August.

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

Originally from the Gold Coast but having learned her trade in Lake Norman, North Carolina, Kate’s new college isn’t actually all that far from home for the freshman. In a young side, but one that only lost a single defender to graduation after 2015, Kate’s ability to also play in midfield looks as if it may stand her in good stead as she vies for playing time in her freshman year. Not without goalscoring ability either, Kate once banged home a hat-trick in a single half playing up front for her club team in Lake Norman.

Jai Jackson (Sophomore, Midfielder, Winthrop, Toowoomba)

A rotational player early on in 2015, Jai finished her freshman season with a flourish, playing full games in each of Winthrop’s last six games as the Eagles finished with a 6-9-3 record, falling to Liberty in the first round of the Big South tournament. Primarily employed deeper in midfield, Jai has also shown a knack for getting forward when required, with her footballing IQ clearly amongst the best in the Winthrop squad. There is little doubt that Jai will reprise her role as an integral part of the Winthrop midfield going forward, with the Queenslander well placed to be a vital cog for her remaining three seasons.

Alisha Bass (Junior, Defender/Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

Is she a midfielder? Is she a defender? Well, ask most people in the Sydney women’s soccer community and they’ll tell you Alisha is an attacking midfielder every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But ask people in Wyoming and they’ll tell you she’s a vital part of the Cowgirls’ defence that helped the team compile a 10-6-4 record before falling in the first round of the Mountain West tournament to Colorado College. Alisha also tallied a pair of goals last season and notched an assist, proving that she still has the attacking instincts that saw her represent Australia at youth level. With no seniors in the 2015 squad, Wyoming have a real chance to build on last year’s successes and become a real force in the Mountain West this season.

Annika Clayton (Sophomore, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

A starter in 14 games in 2015, Annika featured in all 20 of Wyoming’s contests last season, notching two goals and an assist from midfield in her freshman campaign. Whilst her tangible stats are not out of this world, Annika certainly did enough to average over an hour of playing time per game by the end of last season, with the Wyoming coaching staff clearly impressed by the Sydneysider. With Wyoming’s squad barely changing from last season, Annika should see at least as much time on the field in 2016 as the Cowgirls attempt to build on last season’s 10 wins.

Jessie Gentle (Sophomore, Forward, Wyoming, Woolgoolga)

Like Annika Clayton, Jessie joined Wyoming last season and played in all 20 games, starting in 16. Lining up on the wing for the most part, Jessie averaged over 70 minutes per game, tallying a single assist on Laurel Ramer’s opener against Hawaii in a 2-2 draw early on in the season. Jessie will be looking to create a more tangible impact this season, but has clearly shown that she has the ability to be a major part of the Wyoming side in 2016.

Georgia Rowntree (Junior, Goalkeeper, Wyoming, Sydney)

A starter in 16 games in 2015, Georgia shared the goalkeeping responsibilities with local player Cassidy Entsminger last season and things appear set to stay the same in 2016. Conceding an average of just a single goal per game, Georgia notched a .786 save percentage in 2015, representing an improvement on 2014’s 1.20 goals conceded per game, but with an identical save percentage. However, the most notable of Georgia’s stats was her minutes played. After playing 9 games and earning 451 minutes of playing time in 2014, Georgia played 810 minutes in 2015 as she and Entsminger established themselves as an excellent pairing in goal. Running unopposed for Goalkeeper of the Year for the last two seasons, Georgia has competition for the first time, in the form of UCLA’s Teagan Micah.

Candace Sciberras (Junior, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

Candace came to Wyoming in 2013 alongside Alisha Bass, but has followed a slightly different course since that time. The winger suffered an ACL injury and was forced to sit out most of the 2015 season after a promising start to the season which saw Candace start the first five games of the campaign. With very little change to the Wyoming roster, expect to see Candace back in the rotation this season and hopefully earning back that starting spot that she had rightfully claimed before last season’s injury.

Week 1 Wrap

Three matches were played this week, with Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder) and Southeast Missouri State (Jenna Collingridge, Maddy Cornell, Bridget Sankey) getting their seasons started with exhibition games.

Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder)

This week’s result: defeated Wofford 1-0

The Owls of Kennesaw State got their season off to a successful start, exacting revenge on Wofford for last year’s result with a 1-0 win. Nicole Calder came into this game with a slight illness and as such only played two periods of a game that was played in three 30 minute periods. Nicole had two shots during her time on the field. It was not until the 67th minute that Kennesaw State’s Marit Sandtroeen scored the winner on a solo effort, with the score remaining 1-0 for the final 23 minutes to give the Owls a first-up win.

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

This week’s results: lost 1-0 to Lipscomb, lost 3-1 to Saint Louis

Two losses for the Redhawks provide an inauspicious beginning to the season, but there was good news for two of the Aussies, with Jenna Collingridge and Maddy Cornell starting both games, and Maddy Cornell playing over an hour in both games. Both Cornell and Collingridge had shots on target in both games, with Jenna notching a game-high three shots on goal in 34 minutes of play in the loss to Lipscomb. These two games also saw the Southeast coach tinkering with Maddy Cornell’s positioning, with the freshman playing midfield against Lipscomb and in defence against Saint Louis. Unfortunately, Bridget Sankey did not see the field in these two games.

 

Week 1 Preview

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

(All dates and times in Sydney/Melbourne time)

Kennesaw State (Nicole Calder)

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Player Previews

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

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

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

Kahlia Hogg (Junior, Defender, Colorado, Canberra)

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

Alexandra Huynh (Sophomore, Defender, Colorado, Sydney)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilly Rydon (Senior, Midfielder, UMBC, Adelaide)

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

Alisha Bass (Freshman, Midfielder, Wyoming)

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

Georgia Rowntree (Freshman, Goalkeeper, Wyoming, Sydney)

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

Candace Sciberras (Freshman, Midfielder, Wyoming, Sydney)

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

2014 Season Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Soccer Update #7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Soccer Update #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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