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.

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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 12 Preview

Conference tournaments are the focus this week, with a number of Aussie-laden teams picking up high seeds and making themselves favourites to progress and reach the NCAA Tournament, particularly in the Colonial Athletic Association and Northeast Conference.

The Colonial Athletic Association Tournament will be one to watch this week, with Hofstra and Drexel holding the top two seeds as the competition moves into the semi-finals. The pairing of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella and their Hofstra teammates go into the tournament as hot favourites following a perfect league slate, and take on a side with an Australian on the roster in William & Mary, although Lorena Bugden will continue to sit out this season. Hofstra defeated the Tribe 3-1 on the road earlier in the season, and with this game being played on Hofstra’s home patch, the Pride should be able to take care of the Tribe and move into the championship game.

Emma Heckenberg and Drexel take on Northeastern in the day’s first game, also at Hofstra Soccer Stadium. Drexel hosted the Huskies earlier in the season, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw, although Drexel will be wary of the fact that they were outshot 36-15 by Northeastern in that contest, with goalkeeper Christina Ogunsami making 20 saves. Surviving that kind of onslaught twice against the same team in the same season is not something that happens too often, so the Dragons will have to ensure that their defence does a far better job of shutting down the Huskies’ attack.

Travelling south, we find three Aussie seniors fighting for a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game as the Murray State pair of Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine face Maddy Cornell and Southeast Missouri State. Murray State will desperate to atone for their slip-up in last year’s conference tournament which cost the Racers an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and ended their season prematurely, whilst for Southeast Missouri State, this is a real chance for some belated revenge for the defeat to Murray State in the 2015 championship game, especially for the seniors, including Cornell, for whom it is a last chance at a national tournament.

In the northeast corner of the country, the Aussies are dominating in the Northeast Conference. Shelby Milton’s Saint Francis outfit and Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson side earned the top two seeds in the conference tournament, with Fairleigh Dickinson earning the top spot and hosting rights for the tournament. Whilst fellow Australian Lauren Featherstone is not likely to play, Milton and Saint Francis will face off against Central Connecticut State, meaning one Australian is certain to reach the championship game. On the other side, Fairleigh Dickinson take on 4th seed Bryant. Fairleigh Dickinson took a 2-0 win in the regular season meeting between those two sides, a game which was also on the Knights’ home patch, making that contest a direct replication of the regular season battle.

Whilst these are the marquee games of the week, there will no doubt be excitement across the country as conference tournaments work their way through to championships across the next few days, culminating in tickets to the NCAA Tournament being punched in quick succession.

Full Schedule:

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Saint Francis – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at Utah – 6am, Saturday November 4

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v Northeastern – 7:30am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: v Bryant – 2am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Jackson State – 9:30am, Friday November 3 (SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals)

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v UTRGV – 1pm, Saturday November 4 (WAC Tournament Semifinals)

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: v William & Mary – 10am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: v Duquesne – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Southeast Missouri State – 6am, Saturday November 4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Oregon – 7:30am, Friday November 3

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at Saint Mary’s – 9am, Sunday November 5

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Central Connecticut State – 5am, Saturday November 4 (Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Murray State – 6am, Saturday November 4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semifinals)

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v California – 1pm, Saturday November 4

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Prairie View A&M – 4:30am, Friday November 3 (SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals)

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: v USC – 1pm, Saturday November 4

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Furman – 9am, Saturday November 4

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Hofstra – 10am, Saturday November 4 (CAA Tournament Semifinals)

2017 Week 11 Wrap

With this week seeing some conferences starting tournaments and others still in regular season play, a number of exciting scenarios played out across the country, whilst one legend’s career finished on a high with a two-goal effort in her swansong.

In a week where a few of the star Aussies such as Monique Iannella and Harriet Withers had a week off after securing conference tournament first round byes, there were still a few players who showcased outstanding performances as either their seasons or careers came to and end this week.

East Tennessee State dropped into the first round of the Southern Conference tournament after a final day loss to Western Carolina, but put Wofford to the sword with a comprehensive 5-0 win. Isabel Hodgson was at the heart of the Buccaneers’ win, tallying both a goal and an assist. The South Australian opened the scoring by burying one in the bottom right corner in the 17th minute, but the floodgates would take a while to open. East Tennessee State found their second in the 54th minute, and by the 63rd minute the score had blown out to 5-0, with Hodgson registering her assist on the team’s fourth goal, teeing up a team-mate who was able to smash the ball home from inside the six-yard area. The win saw the Buccaneers move on to play Furman in the quarter-finals, and although Hodgson played the full 90 minutes, it would be the Paladins who triumphed 2-1 to end Hodgson and East Tennessee State’s season slightly earlier than they would have liked.

Alisha Bass had a final game to remember as the curtain came down on the Wyoming stalwart’s career following a 3-2 win over Colorado State. The senior converted a penalty in the 18th minute to give Wyoming an early 1-0 lead, but Colorado State equalised in the 25th minute. The teams traded goals yet again, with a 36th minute Wyoming goal cancelled out by a 63rd minute Colorado State strike which left the game poised at 2-2 with just under half an hour to play. However, just a minute after Colorado State’s equaliser, Bass picked up a pass from Alyssa Murray, beat a defender, and slotted the ball home for what would prove to be the game-winner, sending both herself and fellow senior Aussie, goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree, out on a high.

The Northeast Conference has been tight all season, and in the end it was a pair of teams featuring Australians that secured a share of the regular season title. Shelby Milton’s St. Francis team and Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson side came into the final weekend tied for first place, and with both teams winning both games this weekend, the teams remained equal on points. However, it would be Fairleigh Dickinson who would secured top seed and hosting rights for the conference tournament following a better result over third placed Central Connecticut State after Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the season. Roff was especially valuable for the Knights, as she has been all season, playing all 180 minutes across the weekend.

Whilst Beattie Goad may not have seen playing time this week as Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe utilised a short bench in both games this week, there was still reason to celebrate as the Cardinal became the first team to officially secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament. With the Pac-12 not employing a conference tournament to decide its champion, a pair of wins this week were enough to secure the conference title and the automatic bid to the national tournament that comes with it. Stanford secured a 1-0 win over UCLA courtesy of a goal to Jordan DiBiasi, but could be considered lucky to escape with the win after a Hailie Mace shot appeared to rocket in off the crossbar for UCLA, but was deemed to have not crossed the line. The Cardinal’s 3-1 win over USC was slightly more routine, allowing the Trojans just two shots on target all game and taking a two goal-lead just after the hour mark to ease to victory.

Maddy Cornell and Southeast Missouri State have had a whirlwind of a weekend in progressing to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament semi-finals, where they will face Murray State and the Aussie pair of Harriet Withers and Nyomi Devine. Cornell started for the Redhawks against Austin Peay, where Southeast Missouri State were outshot 18-8, but two goals less than a minute either side of the half-hour mark proved to be enough as Austin Peay’s sole tally of the game came in the 81st minute as the Redhawks secured a 2-1 win. Cornell once again started in the Redhawks’ game against Belmont, where they were outshot again, this time 20-6, with just one shot on target. However, the Redhawks managed to scrap their way through 110 minutes to a shootout, where all five penalty takers slotted home for the Redhawks, whilst Belmont’s final taker put the ball over the crossbar, sending the Redhawks into delirium as well as into the semi-finals.

Player Of The Year Points:

3: Alisha Bass (Wyoming)
2:
Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)
1:
Sam Roff (Fairleigh Dickinson)

Complete Results:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: lost 2-1 to Vermont

Claire Urquhart did not feature in Albany’s conference tournament loss to Vermont.

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: defeated LIU Brooklyn 3-0

Lauren Featherstone did not feature in Central Connecticut State’s win over LIU Brooklyn.

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: defeated Oregon State 1-0; defeated Oregon 2-0

Isobel Dalton did not feature for Colorado in either game this week.

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: defeated Wofford 5-0; lost 2-1 to Furman

Isabel Hodgson scored the opener and tallied an assist on another in East Tennessee State’s win over Wofford, and played the full 90 minutes in the season-ending tournament loss to Furman.

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: defeated Sacred Heart 3-1; defeated Mount St. Mary’s 3-1

Sam Roff played the complete 90 minutes in both games this week as a pair of wins secured Fairleigh Dickinson a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title and hosting rights for the conference tournament.

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3-0

Priya Gakhar came off the bench in Grambling State’s win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, playing 50 minutes.

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: defeated Cal State Bakersfield 3-0

Sandra Hill came off the bench for Grand Canyon in their win over Cal State Bakersfield, playing 14 minutes.

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: lost 3-0 to Cal State Fullerton; lost 4-0 to UC Riverside

Kiri Dale started both games for Hawaii this week, playing 90 minutes against Cal State Fullerton and 75 minutes against UC Riverside.

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: defeated Dayton 3-2

Claudia Jenkins did not feature in La Salle’s conference tournament quarterfinal victory over Dayton.

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: lost 2-0 to Missouri

Caitlin Cantrill did not feature for LSU as the Tigers’ season ended prematurely with a loss to Missouri.

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: lost 1-0 to Southeastern Louisiana

Kristy Helmers came off the bench for Nicholls State, playing 59 minutes and registering two shots in the season-ending loss to Southeastern Louisiana, but Tenille Harberger did not feature for the Colonels.

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: defeated Charlotte 3-2

Gaby Bentley came off the bench for Old Dominion in the win over Charlotte as the Monarchs secured the fifth seed in the conference tournament.

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

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

Olivia Ellis did not feature for Oregon State in either game this week.

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: lost 9-0 to Pepperdine; lost 1-0 to Loyola Marymount

Ellie Papalexiou came off the bench to play the final 20 minutes of the loss to Pepperdine, but did not feature against Loyola Marymount.

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: defeated Mount St. Mary’s 3-1; defeated LIU Brooklyn 5-0

Shelby Milton came off the bench to play 20 minutes in St. Francis’ win over Mount St. Mary’s, but did not feature in the win over LIU Brooklyn which secured the Red Flash a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title.

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: defeated Austin Peay 2-1; defeated Belmont 5-4 on penalties (0-0 AET)

Maddy Cornell started both games this week as Southeast Missouri State moved into the Ohio Valley Conference semi-finals, playing 51 minutes against Austin Peay and 44 minutes in the shootout win over Belmont.

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: defeated UCLA 1-0; defeated USC 3-1

Beattie Goad did not feature in either game for Stanford this week as the Cardinal secured the Pac-12 title, and by extension became the first team to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: lost 2-0 to Prairie View A&M

Paige Hayward started and played 45 minutes in Texas Southern’s loss to Prairie View A&M, registering two shots in the process.

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: defeated Oklahoma 3-0

Demi Koulizakis came off the bench for Texas Tech in the win over Oklahoma, playing 9 minutes.

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: lost 1-0 to Stanford; defeated California 1-0

Teagan Micah played the full 90 minutes on both occasions this week, making two saves in each game.

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: defeated VMI 1-0

Kate Swartwout did not feature for Western Carolina in the win over VMI as the Catamounts progressed to the Southern Conference tournament semi-finals.

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: defeated James Madison 4-3

Lorena Bugden did not feature for William & Mary as the tribe defeated James Madison 4-3 to progress to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament semi-finals.

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

This week: defeated Colorado State 3-2

All four available Aussies started in Wyoming’s win over Colorado State, with Jessie Gentle unavailable due to an injury sustained in last week’s loss to New Mexico. Alisha Bass was the star, finishing with two goals in 79 minutes of playing time in the final game of her collegiate career. Georgia Rowntree made four saves in what was also the final game of her collegiate career, playing the full 90 minutes. Jemma House started and played 49 minutes, whilst Annika Clayton also started and played 49 minutes, registering a single shot in the process.

2017 Week 10 Preview

It’s time for what is always one of the most intriguing Aussie v Aussie games of the season – Kate Swartwout and Western Carolina v Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State in a local derby. However, that is far from being the only intriguing storyline of the week, with playoff pushes and title races coming right down to the wire.

This weekend sees the Southern Conference’s final matchday of the regular season play out, and for the Australians in the conference, it’s the matchup we’ve been waiting for all season: Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State hosting Kate Swartwout and Western Carolina in a game that will no doubt have ramifications with regards to conference tournament seeding. With the conference playing a 10 team tournament, a win in this game would not only secure local bragging rights – the two schools are less than two hours’ drive apart – but could also mean the difference between playing a first round game and receiving a bye through to the quarter-finals. Depending on the way the teams line up, we may even see Hodgson and Swartwout directly matched up at times, which would add another intriguing factor to the game.

The SWAC has a couple of weeks of regular season play to come, but Priya Gakhar and Grambling State are in pole position in the race for the regular season title. Leading the league on goal difference ahead of Paige Hayward and Texas Southern, the Tigers this week take on Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State – two teams that Texas Southern put a combined 12 goals past last weekend. Grambling State will have to make sure they take the full six points from these two games, as regardless of other results this week there is still likely to be at least one team in the mix going into the final week of the regular season. As for Hayward and Texas Southern, they play third placed Howard this week. Having played one more game than Grambling State, a win is absolutely non-negotiable for the Tigers if they are to remain within striking distance going into the final day of the season. Fortunately, Paige Hayward seems to have hit form at the right time, banging home a hat-trick in an 8-1 win over Mississippi Valley State last weekend.

Wyoming is another program desperate for wins this week, and for a number of reasons. With three games to play in the regular season, the Cowgirls are just two points out of the conference tournament spots in what is an incredibly close Mountain West Conference in 2017. The Aussie quintet travel to San Diego State before returning home to play New Mexico on Sunday on what will be Georgia Rowntree and Alisha Bass’s Senior Day. With San Diego State and New Mexico sitting above Wyoming but within touching distance at this point, this is definitely one that Wyoming need to get six points from, especially after last week’s losses to Boise State and Utah State.

With two weeks remaining in the Northeast Conference, this week could see two Aussies facing off in a game that sets one team ahead of the pack. Shelby Milton’s St. Francis side and Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson outfit will play on Monday morning, but before that, Fairleigh Dickinson will play their game in hand against 8th placed Robert Morris. With the teams tied going into this week, two wins for Fairleigh Dickinson would really give them the inside running going into the final weekend. However, a win for Saint Francis over the Knights would ensure a chaotic final weekend as both teams hunt for a regular season title.

Two points clear, a game in hand, and a match this week against an Eastern Illinois side that has picked up just one point in league play in 2017. Things look pretty good at the moment for Murray State heading into their final two conference games. A win over Eastern Illinois would secure the title with a game to play, and there is no doubting that the Racers will want to wrap things up as soon as possible, especially considering their recent history with final day opponent SIU Edwardsville. It was the Cougars who caused a boilover in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament last season, defeating the undefeated Murray State side 2-1 in overtime in the semi-finals at a time when the Racers looked like absolute locks to win the tournament and reach the NCAA Tournament. However, with the likes of Harriet Withers up top and Nyomi Devine in defence, the Racers should promptly demolish Eastern Illinois and not even have to worry about the result in the game against SIU Edwardsville.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: at Stony Brook – 10am, Friday October 20

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: v Wagner – 10am, Saturday October 21; at Bryant – 6am, Monday October 23

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: v Arizona State – 8am, Friday October 20; v Arizona – 6am, Monday October 23

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at James Madison – 10am, Friday October 20; at Elon – 4am, Monday October 23

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Western Carolina – 5am, Monday October 23

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at Robert Morris – 6am, Saturday October 21; at Saint Francis – 4am, Monday October 23

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: at Mississippi Valley State – 11am, Saturday October 21; at Alcorn State – 5am, Monday October 23

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: at Utah Valley – 12pm, Saturday October 21; v Seattle – 7am, Monday October 23

Hawaii (Kiri Dale)

This week: v Cal Poly – 2pm, Monday October 23

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: at College of Charleston – 4am, Monday October 23

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: at George Mason – 10am, Friday October 20; v VCU – 4am, Monday October 23

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: v Texas A&M – 10am, Friday October 20; v Auburn – 9am, Monday October 23

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Eastern Illinois – 7am, Friday October 20; v SIU Edwardsville – 6am, Monday October 23

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: v Central Arkansas – 8am, Saturday October 21; v Northwestern State – 5am, Monday October 23

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: v Rice – 10am, Friday October 20; v North Texas – 4am, Monday October 23

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: at California – 9am, Friday October 20; at Stanford – 7am, Monday October 23

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: v San Francisco – 1pm, Saturday October 21; v Santa Clara – 7am, Monday October 23

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: v Fairleigh Dickinson – 4am, Monday October 23

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: v Jacksonville State – 6am, Monday October 23

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v Oregon – 12pm, Friday October 20; v Oregon State – 7am, Monday October 23

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: at Howard – 9am, Saturday October 21

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at West Virginia – 11am, Friday October 20; at Iowa State – 5am, Monday October 23

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Washington State – 1pm, Friday October 20; at Washington – 8am, Monday October 23

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: at East Tennessee State – 5am, Monday October 23

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: v Towson – 5am, Monday October 23

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

This week: at San Diego State – 1pm, Saturday October 21; v New Mexico – 5:30am, Monday October 23

2017 Week 4 Preview

The California-based Pac-12 Aussies are flying right now, but nothing is certain and both teams will have to be at their best to remain at the pointy end of the coaches’ poll. Meanwhile, Paige Hayward and Texas Southern return after an enforced break due to Hurricane Harvey, and Sam Roff looks to marshal the Fairleigh Dickinson defence against a Buffalo team that banged home five goals last weekend.

UCLA are flying at this point, winning all six of their games to this point and sitting atop the coaches’ poll for the last two weeks. Teagan Micah has been a massive part of this, with her six-save performance to secure a 1-0 win over BYU of particular significance. The Bruins will face a significant test on the road this week though, taking on #8 ranked Virginia in a battle of top 10 teams. The Cavaliers have compiled a solid 4-1 record to this point, which includes an overtime win over 2016 national runners-up West Virginia, although they did slip to an unexpected 1-0 loss to Wisconsin. This game will certainly be a battle of an attacking blitzkrieg and a wall-like defence. Virginia have given up just two goals in their five games this season, whilst UCLA have scored a mind-boggling 20 goals in their six games to this point. Virginia’s attack has only conjured seven goals in five games so far, but with such a stingy defence, showers of goals haven’t exactly been required for the Cavaliers to pick up wins to this point.

If UCLA do slip up against Virginia, there is another team featuring an Aussie waiting to take that #1 spot in the poll. Beattie Goad and Stanford take on San Francisco in a local derby before taking on Yale later in the week. Like UCLA, Stanford have been on fire in attack, scoring 22 goals in five games so far. Whilst the defence has given up just three goals to this point, those three unfortunately all came in a 3-2 loss to Florida, the only blot on the Cardinal’s copybook so far. Their first opponent this week, San Francisco, started the season solidly, compiling a 2-1-1 record, but dropped both games last week to slip below .500, with Olivia Ellis and Oregon State the most recent team to knock off the Dons. However, nobody has been able to stop Yale so far. Hofstra, with their Australian duo of Emily Hulbert and Monique Iannella, perhaps went closest, taking the Bulldogs to double overtime, but Yale escaped with a 107th minute golden goal to move to 5-0 to commence the season. Despite their brilliant start, Stanford will still be considered significant favourites in this one, especially on their home patch. Beattie Goad secured a start last week against Georgetown, and will no doubt be hoping to make her way back into the starting eleven in any of the number of positions in which she has played to this point in her Stanford career.

After a leaky start to the campaign which saw the Knights give up seven goals in three games, Fairleigh Dickinson have tightened things up at the back to concede just two goals in their most recent three games, with Sam Roff at the heart of everything the FDU defence does. That defence is going to need to be at its best in the team’s two games this week, with goals hard to come by recently and their opponents each in decent goalscoring form. Niagara have scored multiple goals in three of their last four games, compiling a 3-1-1 record to this point, with their only loss coming to Big Ten side Michigan State. The Knights’ second opponents, Buffalo, have done things slightly differently. Coming into last week’s game against Youngstown State, the Bulls had scored just one goal in their three games to that point. However, an attacking explosion saw Buffalo chalk up a 5-0 win to come into this weekend on a high. Roff and the Knights’ defence may be able to slow down both opponents this week, but they will still be relying on what has been a lacklustre attack to this point if Fairleigh Dickinson are going to pick up a win or two this week.

Four games. Six goals. There’s not much more one needs to say about Murray State’s Australian powerhouse Harriet Withers, who is once again setting the world alight up front for the Racers. Whilst the team plays just one game this week, that doesn’t mean we won’t see multiple goals from the senior against an Arkansas-Little Rock team that has compiled a fascinating record to this point. The Trojans gave up five goals in their first two games, falling to losses to Memphis and Texas. However, they then faced some slightly less challenging opposition and proceeded to bang home seven goals in two games. But neither Sam Houston State nor Missouri State have a defender of the calibre of Nyomi Devine, nor a striker of Withers’ lethality, so we could certainly see yet another game in which the Australians are vital at both ends of the field.

Texas Southern were forced into a week off last week due to Hurricane Harvey, costing them a couple of games against in-state rivals last week. However, Paige Hayward and the Tigers are back in action this week, hosting two games in Houston. They won’t find it easy though. Lamar have shown at times, especially against SWAC teams, that they can certainly find a way to get the ball in the back of the net, and it has only been against power conference teams that they have really struggled. Southern Miss have also shown a propensity for beating up on lower conference teams, but were brought crashing back to Earth last week with an 8-0 loss to Ole Miss. Whilst Texas Southern will still be heavy underdogs, Paige Hayward may be able to take advantage of a defence that is yet to keep a clean sheet this year to pick up a goal here or there.

Full Schedule:

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Dartmouth – 9am, Friday September 8; v Colgate – 5am, Monday September 11

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: at Navy – 3am, Monday September 11

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: at Texas – 10am, Saturday September 9; at Texas-San Antonio – 10am, Monday September 11

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: at Monmouth – 9am, Saturday September 9

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Virginia Tech – 9am, Friday September 8

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at Niagara – 9am, Saturday September 9; at Buffalo – 2am, Monday September 11

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

This week: v Cal State Bakersfield – 10am, Saturday September 9; v UC Riverside – 8:30am, Monday September 11

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

This week: v UC Santa Barbara – 9am, Friday September 8; at Houston Baptist – 6am, Monday September 11

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

This week: v Fordham – 9am, Saturday September 9; v Monmouth – 3am, Monday September 11

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

This week: at Villanova – 3am, Monday September 11

LSU (Caitlin Cantrill)

This week: at UCF – 9am, Saturday September 9; v Liberty – 9am, Monday September 11

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

This week: v Arkansas-Little Rock – 6am, Saturday September 9

Nicholls State (Tenille Harberger, Kristy Helmers)

This week: at Alcorn State – 7am, Saturday September 9; at Louisiana-Lafayette – 9am, Monday September 11

Old Dominion (Gaby Bentley)

This week: at UNC Wilmington – 9am, Friday September 8

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: v Portland State – 12pm, Saturday September 9; v BYU – 10am, Tuesday September 12

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: v Yale – 12pm, Saturday September 9; at Northern Arizona – 10am, Monday September 11

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

This week: at Georgetown – 6am, Saturday September 9; at George Washington – 3am, Monday September 11

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: v San Francisco – 12pm, Saturday September 9; v Yale – 6am, Monday September 11

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: v Lamar – 10am, Friday September 8; v Southern Miss – 5am, Monday September 11

Texas Tech (Demi Koulizakis)

This week: at Arizona – 8am, Saturday September 9; v Arizona State – 5am, Monday September 11

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at Virginia – 9am, Friday September 8

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

This week: v Lipscomb – 9am, Friday September 8; v Tennessee-Martin – 4am, Monday September 11

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: at Maryland – 9am, Friday September 8; at DePaul – 4am, Monday September 11

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

This week: at Utah Valley – 11:30am, Saturday September 9; v Northern Colorado – 5am, Monday September 11

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.

Week 12 Preview

We are down to under 15 schools featuring Australians still playing, and all bar two are still in with a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. All four Aussies in the Pac-12 are basically locked into tournament spots already, whilst plenty more have earned high seedings for conference tournaments, giving them excellent shots at winning a conference title and heading to the NCAA Tournament.

Paige Hayward and Texas Southern kick off the weekend with a SWAC tournament quarterfinal against Prairie View A&M on Friday morning. Paige scored two goals against Prairie View A&M just last week to hand the Tigers a 2-0 win and set up a rematch in the #2 v #7 matchup. Texas Southern will be expected to go all the way to the final, and tomorrow morning’s match is just the start of a 3 game campaign to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Pac-12 has been a dogfight to the last and the Australians have been right amongst it, with USC (Lulu Pullar), Stanford (Beattie Goad), and Colorado (Isobel Dalton, Kahlia Hogg) all still with at least a slight chance of clinching the conference title on the final matchday. It would be unwise to forget about Teagan Micah and UCLA, though. The Bruins take on USC, and a win would destroy the Trojans’ title chances and almost certainly hand the crown to Stanford or Colorado. Stanford sit top of the pile as things stand, so they only need to win, whilst Colorado need to defeat Utah and rely on other results going their way, as will USC if they are to defeat UCLA.

Murray State were forced to share the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title this year, but still secured the top seed and a first round bye in the conference tournament. Now coming off a week’s rest, the Racers take on SIU Edwardsville in the semifinals. These two sides battled to a 1-1 draw on SIUE’s home patch, but this game will take place at the fortress that is Murray State’s Cutchin Field. Harriet Withers’ goal production has been down slightly recently in recent weeks, but the striker has been creating plenty of opportunities for herself and hopefully will be able to find the back of the net again in this must-win game. Nyomi Devine has been out for a couple of weeks and it is unknown as to whether she will return for this game.

Fairleigh Dickinson missed out on the conference title by virtue of a final-day loss that saw the Knights drop to fourth in the standings. This week, they take on the team that jumped them to win the title, St Francis University, in the semifinals of the Northeast Conference tournament. Whilst Fairleigh Dickinson were able to come away with a 3-2 victory at home in the regular season meeting, they will now have to travel to Pennsylvania for this fixture. Sam Roff has been ever-present for the Knights this season, switching between defence and midfield, and a big performance from the freshman will no doubt go a long way to keeping the St Francis attack at bay for the 90 minutes, or 110 if need be.

Emma Heckenberg and Drexel have flown slightly under the radar this season, but with some excellent early season form of their own combined with some upset losses for teams around them despite no wins in their last four, the Dragons managed to play themselves into second spot in the Colonial Athletic Association and a first-round bye. Their semi-final matchup will see them take on James Madison, a side that looked set to take a top two spot until Emily Hulbert and Hofstra knocked them off, paving Drexel’s way to the bye. If the Dragons can turn around their mediocre recent form, they already have an away win over James Madison under their belt, which will no doubt give the team confidence to do the same at a neutral site.

Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State have already played one tournament game at home, defeating Western Carolina 2-1 in a nail biter this week. This week, they host both the semi-finals and final of the Southern Conference tournament regardless of seedings, and will be looking to make full use of the advantage. First up, they have to get past Mercer, whom they lost to 3-2 away earlier in the year. Since that game, East Tennessee have won 6 of their last 8 games, with their only loss coming to regular season champions Samford. With Isabel Hodgson pushed into a more advanced role for the latter half of the season, the Buccaneers’ attack is firing and revenge is most definitely on the cards.

Full Schedule:

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

This week: v Prairie View A&M – 8:30am, Friday November 4 (SWAC Quarterfinals)

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: v James Madison – 5am, Saturday November 5 (CAA Semifinals)

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Jade Horcicka, Harriet Withers)

This week: v SIU Edwardsville – 5am, Saturday November 5 (OVC Semifinals)

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

This week: at St Francis University – 5am, Saturday November 5 (NEC Semifinals)

Colorado (Isobel Dalton, Kahlia Hogg)

This week: v Utah – 8am, Saturday November 5

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: at USC – 9am, Saturday November 5

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: at California – 9am, Saturday November 5

USC (Lulu Pullar)

This week: v UCLA – 9am, Saturday November 5

East Tennessee State (Isabel Hodgson)

This week: v Mercer – 10:30am, Saturday November 5 (Southern Conference Semifinals)

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: at Pepperdine – 7am, Sunday November 6

San Francisco (Price Keogh)

This week: v Santa Clara – 1pm, Sunday November 6

Albany (Claire Urquhart)

This week: v Hartford – 10am, Monday November 7 (America East Final)