Worth The Wait: Lauren Featherstone on redshirting her first year at CCSU

Imagine this: you’ve been heavily recruited by a school, decided it’s where you want to go, you’re all set to head there and start playing college soccer, and then suddenly – not so fast. Well, that’s what happened to Lauren Featherstone as she prepared to make the move from southwest Sydney to Central Connecticut State University, with the freshman falling foul of the NCAA’s academic rules for incoming freshmen. Whilst she could still head over, she wouldn’t be playing that first season.

“Basically, I didn’t have enough academic credits,” Featherstone explains. “I didn’t do the right subjects, and I also dropped one of my classes in Year 12. I really didn’t realise about the college credits, which didn’t help my case. I basically didn’t do the right subjects.”

“It was around signing day in 2017 that I found out that was going to happen, so it was pretty late in the process. I had been talking to CCSU for about 10 months before that. It was an every week thing. I had to send them transcripts, then they’d ask for something I’d have to send to the NCAA or something, so it was pretty late.”

However, Featherstone’s journey to college started much earlier, as many of her teammates at Westfields Sports High School started heading over, piquing the midfielder’s interest.

“I’d say about Year 9 I heard about it, and then ever since then I was interested in it,” Featherstone reveals. “It was actually pretty early on during high school, because the older girls, like (former Colorado and Troy defender) Alex Huynh, they were there and they were going to college and ever since then it’s been like, a dream of mine to go to college.”

So how does a player who has been interested in college for so long end up being forced to sit out her freshman season due to academic ineligibility?

“I think the problem with me was that I was kind of naïve,” the Macarthur Rams product revealed. “I thought it would be fine, I didn’t really look into it, or think it was that much of a process.”

Although she would not be able to play in 2017, Featherstone maintained a positive mindset. Secure in the fact that Central Connecticut State had gone all-out to secure her signature, the midfielder came in knowing that even though she couldn’t impact games in her first season, she would be able to make her mark on the field in the long-term. Featherstone also had someone with plenty of experience in her corner: former Matildas midfielder and conference player of the year at CCSU Leah Blayney, who now coaches at Westfields Sports High as well as in the Matildas setup, helped kickstart the process for Featherstone.

“So, Leah helped me a lot in the recruiting process, she said that she had these three schools for me that said that they have full scholarships. It was Fairleigh Dickinson, William & Mary, and Central Connecticut State,” Featherstone revealed.

“I was emailing all three of them at first.  I sent them each a highlights video and a player resume which is like a timeline of all my achievements.”

All three schools have pre-existing links to Australia. Defender Sam Roff is a rock at the heart of defence for Fairleigh Dickinson, whilst Lorena Bugden was part of William & Mary’s freshman class last season and current UMBC head coach Vanessa Mann was an assistant for the Tribe until last season. But the women’s soccer program at Central Connecticut State almost resembles an Australian embassy, with Blayney and Featherstone just two of a handful of Aussies to feature for the Blue Devils in recent seasons, including Sydney FC W-League winning goalkeeper Nikola Deiter, who started for the Sky Blues’ title-winning team in 2009 even before heading over to college.

“Leah told me about the others, and that they definitely love their Aussies over there,” Featherstone explained.

“it’s a great place for us over there, they’re really accepting. They were definitely very keen. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Central, they were very keen on me.

“Pretty early on I decided on Central. They really stood out to me, the coach seemed like he really wanted me. We did a lot of Skyping, and he showed me around the school, he just made everything really clear, and pretty early on I knew I wanted to go there.”

However, it hardly matters how much a coach wants a player to play and how much a player wants to play for the team once the NCAA gets involved. Despite this, CCSU coach Mick D’Arcy did everything he could to ensure Featherstone would get to school as soon as possible, and once she was there, the team’s newest Australian took it all her in her stride.

My coach, he really fought the NCAA on the case. He said ‘we’ll take her and she can just redshirt for the first semester’, so it was an official redshirt. I wasn’t allowed to practice, wasn’t allowed to travel, I had to stay on campus when they travelled and everything. So it was just a whole lot of sidelining for that first semester, and next semester I was back into it.

“To be honest, I didn’t really have any concerns because I knew it would happen wherever I went. It’s just credits, it’s not Central’s fault or anything,” Featherstone states philosophically. “They told me they had a lot of stuff I could do still, like I still did workouts. Even though I wasn’t allowed to practice with the team, I could still lift. So it wasn’t like I was just sitting there studying, I was still doing a lot.”

Whilst she may have been doing a lot of training, Featherstone couldn’t do any of it with the team, either on or off the field. Rather than lament the situation, the freshman chose to see the positives that she could take from redshirting.

“At first it was tough, but then I enjoyed it. I was there by myself, but I was still getting the workout in,” says Featherstone.

“I really felt like when I got back into training like my strength got up, like I had more endurance, I feel like it prepared me.”

Lauren (#12) with a pair of CCSU teammates

For all that preparation though, Featherstone still had to come back into the team with a group of players who had no doubt heard about how good their new player might be, and that she’d been training hard by herself, but to whom she had yet to prove herself. It didn’t take long for the Australian to settle into the team dynamic.

“It was quite challenging at first, because they all knew me and I felt like there was a lot of anticipation to see how good I really was, and if I was as good as the coaches said,” Featherstone reveals. “But they were all very welcoming. They’re a great group of girls; I felt at home from my very first practice. The nerves were there but I felt at home.”

Whilst the playing group may have been welcoming, impressing the coaching staff can often be a completely different case. Clearly, Featherstone has the class that the coach saw when recruiting her in previous years, as shown by what the midfielder has been told during spring practice.

“Basically, they said that the midfield role is going to be my role. They did try me out at right back, so they know I can do that as well. But for this season I think I fit in pretty well in midfield, at the 6 or 8,” Featherstone revealed.

“The 8 role is probably my favourite. I can play the 10 as well, but we’ve got a really great 10 at the moment, she does a really good job there. But I said to the coach I think I’d work well in the midfield in that team, because I understand the playmaker role, distributing from defence to forward.”

They did say that I have a good chance of getting that starting role when the season comes around, but it’s obviously not just going to be given to me, I have to work for it.

“From the start of spring semester to the end we did weekly fitness tests, and I did really well. They basically said ‘you’re doing well, just keep doing that,’ and that’s basically what I have to do, keep maintaining the improvement and I’ll be in there.”

Featherstone appears to have come into the team at the perfect time. Having finished 6-2 in conference play last season and reached the conference semi-finals, and with only a small number of players graduating earlier this year, CCSU are primed for a run at the conference championship this season, and the entire team is motivated, Featherstone included.

“The last spring semester, all the senior players said it’s the hardest spring semester they’ve ever had. So, I think the coach is really pushing us this year, and he’s really motivated all of us; we really want to win the NECs and get into the NCAA Tournament. I definitely think we’re very ready for the season that’s coming up.”

If they are to win the conference championship, the Blue Devils will have to get through two teams featuring Australians. Sam Roff’s Fairleigh Dickinson reached the championship game last season, but it was St. Francis University that got past them in the final to win the championship and ultimately reach the NCAA Tournament. That St. Francis team features Shelby Milton, not just another Aussie, but someone who Featherstone knows quite well, to say the least. Although Featherstone couldn’t travel to road games last season, the pair did get to see each other when St. Francis travelled to CCSU for the conference semi-final, where St. Francis picked up a 2-1 victory.

Shelby Milton and Lauren after the NEC Semi-Final in 2017

“Shelby is actually a really close family friend, and it’s funny because they’re our rivals. Luckily, that (semi-final) was at home so I got to see Shelby after the game. It was good to see another Aussie. It’ll definitely be a funny thing, because after the game, some of the girls barely look each other in the eye to say good game, but we’ll run up to each other and give each other a hug,” Featherstone explains. When asked if she wants to get revenge on Milton and SFU, she simply laughs and says “Yeah.”

Whilst academics and athletics combined get you that college scholarship, academics last much longer than athletics and Featherstone realises this, which was the basis for her decision to go to college as she looks to achieve her long-term goals both on and off the field.

“I knew what I wanted and I really wanted to go to Central. But I did really look at William & Mary in the early stages because of how well they do academically, as that’s really important to me as well,” Featherstone revealed.

“My grades in high school were kind of up and down; they weren’t really that great. I did have some trouble outside of school that affected my grades pretty early on, but they said ‘It wasn’t the easiest path for you throughout high school, but we’ve got this study hall specifically for athletes, we’ve got tutors, we’ve got advisors,’ and it’s been great. I’m best friends with all these advisors, I go in there every day, they help me with any issues I have, and they’ve been really helpful.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to go overseas is so I could play my sport and get the degree. I could’ve done it here, but it just meshes together over there. It’s a lifestyle. I think that’s one of the main reasons, to get my degree and achieve my goals in soccer as well.”

“Basically, my main goal is to get that degree, and get a good job set up, because soccer isn’t forever. I was majoring in exercise science the first two semesters. I really enjoyed all the science stuff, but I realised I didn’t want a job from that degree so I changed to sociology. I did some research into it before I switched, and I think I’d enjoy an advisor role or a human resources officer, something like that.”

“On-field, I think my long-term goals would be to make the Matildas, get recruited into the NWSL, and just enjoy my college, win some championships, win some rings if I can.”

Whatever the future may bring, Featherstone’s first year has provided her with the opportunity to provide some sage advice for players so that they can avoid winding up in the situation that she found herself in.

“Just do your preparation, do your research, talk to the colleges, ask them any questions, they’ll tell you everything. Just don’t be scared to ask questions. It’s definitely a long process, so it’s never too early to start preparing yourself for it.”

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2017 Season Wrap

34 Australians featured on rosters of NCAA Division I programs this season, with 30 of those getting onto the pitch at some point. Some were stars, some were regular starters, and some played roles as impact players off the bench, but all were fascinating to follow throughout the year. In this article, we take a short look at each player’s season.

(Lorena Bugden, Julia De Angelis, Lauren Featherstone, and Tenille Harberger did not feature this season, and as such are not included below.)

Alisha Bass (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 6 goals, 3 assists

Photo Credit: University of Wyoming

A leader for Wyoming from the minute she stepped on the pitch in 2014, Alisha Bass rounded out her college career with yet another outstanding season. Having played just about everywhere except between the sticks in the previous three years, Bass capitalised on the chance to play in her favoured midfield role, tallying six goals for the season, eclipsing the five she tallied in her freshman year. The senior also tallied three assists as her vision and passing ability shone through in spades once again. Unfortunately, the Cowgirls couldn’t quite recover from some personnel losses and injuries throughout the season, narrowly missing the conference tournament for the first and only time in Bass’s career.

Gaby Bentley (Old Dominion)
Team Record: 9-5-4 (Conference USA Tournament Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 17 games, 6 starts, 1 goal

Having featured in just two games in 2016, it was certainly heartening to see Gaby Bentley feature in 17 of Old Dominion’s 18 games this season, and start six times. The midfielder was also able to pick up a goal early in the season, tallying the Monarchs’ single goal in a 3-1 loss to VCU. Draws in conference play perhaps cost Old Dominion a higher spot in the Conference USA standings, and eventually they would fall to Louisiana Tech in the 4th-5th matchup in the conference tournament. With her trajectory clearly on the up, it will be hoped that Bentley can secure a regular starting berth in 2018.

Caitlin Cantrill (LSU)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 6 goals, 3 assists

After enjoying a reasonably solid freshman season in 2016, Caitlin Cantrill unfortunately found playing time hard to come by in 2017, featuring in just three games as LSU missed the SEC Tournament. Without speculating as to the reasons, it is certainly hoped that the Canberra product can garner more minutes in 2018 as she becomes one of the more senior players in the team in a squad that featured 16 freshmen this season.

Annika Clayton (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-7-3
Stats: 3 games, 0 starts

Now in her junior year, Annika Clayton once again suffered through injury issues which held her out of the early stages of the season, but played the last 12 games of the season without missing a beat to carve out a highly respectable season. Clayton started on six occasions, playing a commanding role in midfield, and tallied a single goal in the 3-2 loss to New Mexico on Senior Day. With fellow Australian Alisha Bass leaving a gaping hole in midfield following her graduation, Clayton will be one of a number of players expected to step up in 2018 and fill the gap left by the senior.

Maddy Cornell (Southeast Missouri State)
Team Record: 8-6-4 (Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 19 games, 17 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

Given more opportunities to attack in 2017, Maddy Cornell enjoyed a reasonably successful senior season, tallying her first goal since 2016 in the season opening win against Evansville, and following it up with the team’s only goal in a 3-1 loss to Mississippi State later in the season. More importantly though, Cornell started 17 of the 19 games in which she featured, a vast improvement on 2017’s three starts in 18 games. Southeast Missouri State made a great run in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament to reach the semi-finals, but fell 1-0 to eventual champions Murray State in a game where the Redhawks held the usually ruthless Murray State attack to just six shots.

Kiri Dale (Hawaii)
Team Record: 6-10-1
Stats: 17 games, 11 starts, 1 assist

A transfer from Iona, Kiri Dale moved to Hawaii looking for a tougher challenge, but the sophomore still managed to play 17 games, the same amount that she played in her freshman year in New York. Dale started the season supremely, coming up with game-winning assist on an opening day overtime win over Utah Valley. Dale would go on to start in 11 of her 17 appearances, and will no doubt be expected to step up to be a leader in 2018 as the Rainbow Wahine lose seven seniors to graduation.

Isobel Dalton (Colorado)
Team Record: 12-6-4 (NCAA Tournament Round of 32)
Stats: 7 games, 0 starts

Playing just seven games in 2017, at times it seemed as if Isobel Dalton was the player one away from being part of the rotation off the bench. The junior came within a couple of inches of registering her first Division I goal after crashing a shot off the crossbar in a 6-0 win over UC Riverside, but will go into her senior year still looking to tally her opening goal. Colorado had another solid season, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina, but the team will no doubt want to push on and reach the Sweet 16 in 2018 after several years of reaching the tournament but falling early.

Nyomi Devine (Murray State)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (OVC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 1 assist

Photo Credit: Dave Winder/Murray State Athletics

A veritable wall at the back for Murray State these past four years, Nyomi Devine once again performed superbly throughout 2017 to help lead the Racers to the NCAA Tournament. The senior helped the Racers keep nine clean sheets throughout the season, but it was an attacking play that may have been Devine’s most important of the season. With the Ohio Valley Conference championship game against Eastern Kentucky finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes, the game moved into golden goal overtime, and it was Devine coming up with the assist on the game winning goal as the Racers atoned for 2016’s surprising tournament loss to win the conference title and secure their passage to the NCAA Tournament before falling to Tennessee in the first round. Devine was rewarded for her play throughout the season with a selection in the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Third Team, a well-deserved honour following yet another outstanding season.

Olivia Ellis (Oregon State)
Team Record: 6-10-3
Stats: 6 games, 0 starts

A former Melbourne City W-League player, Olivia Ellis enjoyed some extended runs in her opening season, playing at least half a game on three occasions. However, those prolonged shifts did not translate into more appearances as the season rolled on, with the freshman featuring in just six games all season. Despite this, Ellis will return to an Oregon State side that loses seven starters to graduation, meaning positions will really open up in 2018, and with the Beavers leaning heavily on their starters last season, the slate is almost clean for both Ellis and the rest of the team coming into next season.

Priya Gakhar (Grambling State)
Team Record: 11-7-2 (SWAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 1 assist

Priya Gakhar came into a Grambling State side that in 2016 had won just one game in a rather sparsely populated 12 game schedule, but that all changed in 2017. Gakhar featured in 18 games, mostly in short cameos off the bench, and tallied an assist in a 3-3 draw with Prairie View A&M as Grambling won 11 games in a 20-game schedule more befitting a Division I team. The Tigers eventually reached the SWAC Tournament semi-finals, falling to eventual champions Alabama State in a penalty shootout. With only one season remaining in her college career, Gakhar will surely want to turn those cameos into more prolonged stints on the field in each game.

Jessie Gentle (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 18 games, 5 starts, 2 assists

An impact player off the bench over the last two seasons, Jessie Gentle once again performed admirably for Wyoming, playing in 18 games but starting just five. Although the junior tallied just two assists over the course of the season, Gentle’s play far surpassed what can be gleaned from the box score. Gentle unfortunately missed the final game of the season after a freak injury after colliding with a corner post in the team’s final home game, but nonetheless put together a third solid season on a personal level to set herself up for an outstanding senior year as Wyoming look to return to the Mountain West Conference tournament after narrowly missing out in 2017.

Beattie Goad (Stanford)
Team Record: 24-1 (Pac-12 Champions, NCAA Champions)
Stats: 19 games, 5 starts, 1 goal, 1 assist

Things couldn’t have gone much better for Beattie Goad and Stanford in 2017 as the Cardinal lost just one game all season as they stormed home to a national championship after a 3-2 win in a blockbuster of a title game against UCLA. For Goad herself, it was a year of slotting in where required off the bench, starting in just five of her 19 appearances but featuring in a variety of positions as her versatility shone through, and picking up a goal and an assist in the course of her time on the pitch. Although Stanford will lose US national team player Andi Sullivan to graduation, the midfielder is the only regular starter from 2017 that will need to be replaced, and as such things are looking good for the Cardinal in 2018 as they look to defend their tile.

Paige Hayward (Texas Southern)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (SWAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 16 games, 16 starts, 9 goals, 2 assists

Paige Hayward was once again the leader of Texas Southern’s front line, contributing goals regularly as the Tigers once again fell agonisingly short of reaching the NCAA Tournament following a shootout loss to eventual champions Alabama State in the SWAC tournament semi-finals. The senior finished the season with 9 goals to round out her career with 25 goals, and chipped in two assists in her final season of collegiate play as the Tigers finished the season with a solid 6-3-1 conference record before the unfortunate shootout loss.

Emma Heckenberg (Drexel)
Team Record: 11-7-1 (CAA Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 13 games, 11 starts, 2 assists

After playing 19 games in 2016, Emma Heckenberg played in just 13 games this season, but with 11 of those games coming consecutively to finish the season, it was clear that once the junior found her role in the team, she excelled. Shifted between defence and midfield, those freshman days of playing up front are now well and truly behind Heckenberg as she settles into a deeper role, although the junior was able to tally two assists this year. Drexel enjoyed a solid regular season to finish second in the CAA, but unfortunately their conference tournament campaign ended in the first round at the hands of the always dangerous Northeastern.

Kristy Helmers (Nicholls State)
Team Record: 6-11-1
Stats: 18 games, 13 starts, 3 goals, 1 assist

Kristy Helmers’ goal output was slightly down this year, perhaps a function of the loss of fellow Australian Jess Coates from the midfield and the lack of the element of surprise that existed in her freshman year. However, the sophomore was still able to tally three goals and register an assist in her 18 appearances, of which 13 were starts as Nicholls State finished with six wins from 18 games. With six of 16 of the Colonels’ goals coming from seniors this year, both Helmers and the rest of the attack will have to bang home the goals with far more regularity, but Helmers has proven that if she is given the service, she can certainly put the ball in the back of the net.

Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
Team Record: 6-13-2 (WAC Tournament Semi-Finals)
Stats: 14 games, 0 starts, 1 assist

Photo Credit: Michael Rincon

An occasional presence for Grand Canyon in her freshman season, Sandra Hill featured in 14 games in 2017 in what was a tough season for the Lopes, who won just six of their 21 games. However, in a team with 10 freshmen on the roster, the signs are promising not only for Hill, but for the team as seven of those freshmen reached double figures for appearances. Hill also tallied a single assist, setting up one of Grand Canyon’s seven goals in a demolition of Chicago State.

Isabel Hodgson (East Tennessee State)
Team Record: 6-13
Stats: 16 games, 15 starts, 2 goals, 1 assist

It was a tough season to say the least for Isabel Hodgson and East Tennessee State, falling from a 13-6-2 season in 2016 to 6-13 in 2017. However, Hodgson continued to be an ever-present fixture in the lineup, save for one match missed with a minor ankle injury, showing herself to be one of the true leaders of the side going forward. The junior also tallied two goals and a single assist, well down on her five goals and nine assists, but the team scored just 22 in comparison to their 47 goals in 2016. However, there are still plenty of pieces there for the team to put together a winning season in 2018.

Jemma House (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 11 starts

A goalscoring extraordinaire in her two years at nearby Laramie County Community College, Jemma House was used in a slightly different role out wide in her first season at Wyoming. Despite featuring in every game for Wyoming this season, it took a while for House to adapt to Division I soccer before coming into her own and eventually becoming an integral part of the Wyoming roster, starting 11 games. The junior also picked up her first two Division I goals early in the season, before adding two assists as the season rolled on. The Cowgirls will lose five starters – albeit one of those is goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree – from this season’s team in 2018, so House will no doubt be expected to be one of the team’s leaders next season.

Emily Hulbert (Hofstra)
Team Record: 15-4-2 (CAA Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 18 games, 16 starts, 1 goal, 2 assists

Injuries had been a common theme throughout Emily Hulbert’s career, but 2017 saw the Hofstra senior put most of that to one side to play a commanding role in midfield throughout the season as the Pride dominated conference play, finishing with a perfect record to secure the CAA title and reach the NCAA Tournament. The former Melbourne Victory player tallied a goal and two assists for the season, but it was her work shielding the back four and launching attacks from deep that were of paramount importance as the senior featured in 18 games in her final season after injury had limited her to just nine in her junior year.

Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Team Record: 15-4-2 (CAA Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 21 games, 20 starts, 6 assists

Photo Credit: Jonathan Heisler/Hofstra Athletic Communications

Whilst Emily Hulbert was excellent in midfield for Hofstra, Monique Iannella was outstanding at right back for the Pride, both in attack and defence. Following a transfer from Texas, Iannella slotted straight into a Hofstra defence that dominated opponents throughout the season to finish with 11 clean sheets. Iannella was also a threat from set pieces, taking the majority of corners and finishing with six assists for the season, the most by any Australian in 2017. The junior also took a mind-boggling 25 corners in one game against James Madison, finishing with two assists in that game.

Claudia Jenkins (La Salle)
Team Record: 17-4-2 (A10 Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 4 games, 0 starts

Despite being second in the goalkeeping pecking order behind stalwart Larissa Zambelli, Claudia Jenkins was afforded a couple of opportunities in her freshman season, experience that could prove vital as the South Australian looks to make the starting spot her own in 2018. Jenkins made four appearances in her freshman season, coming on either when the game was already secure or after Zambelli took a knock, playing 65 minutes and only being required to make two saves. Jenkins did however pick up a conference title in her freshman season as La Salle defeated VCU 1-0 in overtime in the Atlantic 10 title game.

Demi Koulizakis (Texas Tech)
Team Record: 9-7-3 (Big 12 Tournament Quarter-Finals)
Stats: 10 games, 0 starts

Having featured in 18 games in her freshman season, it was hoped that Demi Koulizakis would be able to increase her minutes in 2017, but it was not to be as the sophomore featured in just 10 games in 2017. Koulizakis was afforded just 114 minutes of playing time, hardly enough for the Sydneysider to showcase her talents as she averaged just 11 minutes of playing time. The Red Raiders finished the season 9-7-3, missing the NCAA Tournament after falling to West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.

Teagan Micah (UCLA)
Team Record: 19-3-3 (NCAA Runner-Up)
Stats: 25 games, 24 starts, 9 clean sheets

Photo Credit: Rand Bleimeister

A near enough to ever-present fixture in a UCLA lineup that reached the NCAA Tournament final before falling 3-2 to Stanford in a blockbuster of a game, Teagan Micah enjoyed a second consecutive outstanding season between the sticks for the Bruins. Ranking in the top 50 in the nation for goals against average and clean sheets, Micah enjoyed the help of a solid defence, but still put in a number of outstanding efforts to tally nine shutouts for the season and concede just 19 goals. The sophomore also came up with the decisive save in the NCAA College Cup semi-final shootout against Duke which allowed Marley Canales to step up and secure UCLA’s passage to the final.

Shelby Milton (St. Francis)
Team Record: 10-8-3 (NEC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 6 games, 2 starts

Shelby Milton featured in 19 games for St. Francis in 2016, but somehow her opportunities were restricted in 2017, making just six appearances for a Red Flash team that reached the NCAA Tournament after defeating Sam Roff and Fairleigh Dickinson on penalties in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game. Milton played the full 90 minutes in St. Francis’ 3-0 win over Radford, holding the Highlanders to just 3 shots all game, but that remained her only complete game appearance for the season. Fortunately, Milton has two more seasons in Pennsylvania to regain her position as an integral part of the team.

Ellie Papalexiou (Pacific)
Team Record: 5-13-2
Stats: 4 games, 0 starts

Frustrated by yet another knee injury, Ellie Papalexiou was restricted to just four appearances in her senior year after not being cleared to return until midway through the season. However, whilst on the pitch, her class was visible even when playing in an unfamiliar role in the centre of midfield, even if results weren’t always the best for a Pacific program still looking to find its feet having returned to the elite West Coast Conference in 2013 after several years in the Big West. Although she played just 28 games in her time at college due to injury, there is no doubting that Papalexiou has more than enough ability to have made a significant impact on this Pacific side, as shown in her 17 appearances in her freshman year in 2014.

Sam Roff (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Team Record: 9-8-4 (NEC Runner-Up)
Stats: 21 games, 21 starts

One of the stars of the Northeast Conference, Sam Roff was the undoubted rock at the back for Fairleigh Dickinson, earning herself an All-Conference First Team selection for her outstanding performances in defence. Whilst the sophomore wasn’t able to snag her first goal or assist, her efforts in her role as a defender were vital in Fairleigh Dickinson’s run to the Northeast Conference title game, where the Knights went down in a penalty shootout to Shelby Milton and Saint Francis after the game finished 0-0 following two periods of extra time.

Georgia Rowntree (Wyoming)
Team Record: 8-9-2
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 4 clean sheets

Photo Credit: University of Wyoming

A saviour at times for Wyoming, Georgia Rowntree often found herself needing to make more than her share of saves to keep the Cowgirls in games, with her save percentage of 76% far more representative of her ability than her clean sheet count of four for the season. The senior played all bar 72 minutes of the season, forming an almost ever-present force between the sticks, but unfortunately the Cowgirls couldn’t quite reach the Mountain West Conference tournament, with a final day win over rivals Colorado State not quite enough to secure a top six spot. Nonetheless, Rowntree carved out an exceptional career at Wyoming, with the Sydneysider leaving some rather large shoes to fill in Laramie.

Kate Swartwout (Western Carolina)
Team Record: 9-10-2 (Southern Conference Runner-Up)
Stats: 17 games, 6 starts, 1 assist

After making 11 starts last season, appearances in the first eleven were a little harder to come by for Kate Swartwout in 2017, featuring only six times in the starting lineup. However, Swartwout did make 17 appearances, one more than the 16 she made in 2016. Swartwout also chalked up a single assist despite being known more as a defender, setting up the equaliser in a 3-2 win over Kennesaw State. With a relatively young team that fell agonisingly short of the NCAA Tournament in 2017 following a Southern Conference championship game loss to UNC Greensboro, things are certainly looking up for both Swartwout and Western Carolina.

Claire Urquhart (Albany)
Team Record: 6-11-1
Stats: 12 games, 8 starts

After reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2016, 2017 was a bit more of a rebuilding year for Albany, who finished with a 6-11-1 record, but for Claire Urquhart, it represented a vastly increased opportunity to play under new coach Nick Bochette. After featuring in just seven games across her first two seasons, the junior started in 8 of her 12 appearances, ably filling a defensive role at various times throughout the season.

Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Team Record: 15-2-2 (OVC Champions, NCAA Tournament First Round)
Stats: 19 games, 19 starts, 12 goals, 2 assists

Photo Credit: Dave Winder/Murray State Athletics

As has been the case throughout Harriet Withers’ career, the senior once again banged home goals seemingly for fun at times as Murray State reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years before falling 2-0 to Tennessee in the first round. Withers tallied 12 goals in 2017, good enough for 30th in the nation, whilst her six game winning goals were good enough for eighth. The senior also led all players in shots on target per game, averaging nearly three per game, which represented just over half of her total shots. Withers was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First Team following yet another outstanding season, as well as picking up the #1 spot in Top Drawer Soccer’s Ohio Valley Conference Top 20 players.

End Of Season Awards:

Freshman of the Year: Sandra Hill (Grand Canyon)
Sophomore of the Year: Teagan Micah (UCLA) and Kristy Helmers (Nicholls State)
Junior of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Senior of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Georgia Rowntree (Wyoming)
Defender of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Midfielder of the Year: Alisha Bass (Wyoming)
Forward of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Breakout Player of the Year: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Most Consistent Player: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
Top Goalscorer: Harriet Withers (Murray State)
Most Assists: Monique Iannella (Hofstra)
2017 College Matildas Player of the Year: Harriet Withers (Murray State)

2017 Week 12 Wrap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Player Of The Year Points:

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

Complete Results:

Central Connecticut State (Lauren Featherstone)

This week: lost 2-1 to Saint Francis

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

Colorado (Isobel Dalton)

This week: defeated Utah 2-0

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

Drexel (Emma Heckenberg)

This week: lost 2-0 to Northeastern

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

Fairleigh Dickinson (Sam Roff)

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

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

Grambling State (Priya Gakhar)

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

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

Grand Canyon (Sandra Hill)

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

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

Hofstra (Emily Hulbert, Monique Iannella)

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

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

La Salle (Claudia Jenkins)

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

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

Murray State (Nyomi Devine, Harriet Withers)

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

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

Oregon State (Olivia Ellis)

This week: defeated Oregon 1-0

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

Pacific (Ellie Papalexiou)

This week: lost 1-0 to Saint Mary’s

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

St. Francis (Shelby Milton)

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

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

Southeast Missouri State (Maddy Cornell)

This week: lost 1-0 to Murray State

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

Stanford (Beattie Goad)

This week: defeated California 1-0

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

Texas Southern (Paige Hayward)

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

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

UCLA (Teagan Micah)

This week: defeated USC 3-2 (OT)

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

Western Carolina (Kate Swartwout)

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

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

William & Mary (Lorena Bugden)

This week: lost 1-0 to Hofstra

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

2017 Week 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