Catalina Perez (credit José Tejada)
METUCHEN, NJ - Another week gone by in the early part of the off-season in United Women's Soccer (UWS) and more post-collegiate players are finding their way to success for both club and country. While the FIFA Women's World Cup in France captivated the international stage, the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru took up the attention of 41 national teams from North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Eight teams took part in the women's soccer tournament at Lima 2019 and after an exciting 120 minutes of action in the final, the Colombian Women's National Team took home the gold medal for their first-ever international title. New England Mutiny goalkeeper Catalina Perez started in every match for Las Cafeteras and was in net when her side won on penalty kicks over Argentina, after the match had ended tied at 1-1.
The former Mississippi State All-American made six saves in the win including two in extra time. Colombia emerged victorious by a nail-biting 7-6 score in penalties after Perez watched the final Argentine shot fly over the bar. The gold medalists never trailed at the XVIII Pan American Games and the Bogota-native allowed just six goals (including an own goal) in her five starts. Two of her teammates have UWS connections as well as backup keeper Stefany Castaño and midfielder Isabella Echeverri have suited up for the Houston Aces. Echeverri was an All-West selection for the Aces. Another Mutiny star was capped by Jamaica at Lima 2019 as defender Chantelle Swaby did double duty this summer for country in the FIFA WWC and the Pan Am Games. Former LA Galaxy OC forward Kiana Palacios played for Mexico in Peru while Lancaster Inferno alum & 2016 All-UWS defender Carol Sanchez won bronze with Costa Rica after a 1-0 win over Paraguay.
Kayla Saager (credit Binghamton University Athletics)
Long Island Rough Riders forward Kayla Saager has signed her first professional contract with 1. FC Slovácko Ženy in the Czech Republic's First Division - the top level of women's soccer in that country. The Czech First Division is dominated by the teams in Prague with AC Sparta Praha winning 20 of the 26 titles and Slavia Prague the remaining six. FC Slovácko Ženy is arguably the best of the rest in that country and just kicked off their 2019-20 season. The team has finished third six times (2005-11) and were runner-ups in 2001 and 2002. Saager is the all-time leading scorer for Long Island in the team's UWS era, tallying 17 goals and two assists (36 points) in three seasons which includes the Rough Riders' 2017 East Conference championship campaign. The former Binghamton University star was named to the UWS Week V honor roll for her hat trick in a win over Worcester. 2019 All-UWS selection for LAGOC and recent Vegalta Sendai Ladies (Japan) signee Jordan Marada played for 1. FC Slovácko during the 2018 season.
Kylee McIntosh (credit Connecticut Fusion)
While some post-collegiate players use UWS as a platform to launch their professional careers, some simply want to continue to compete at a high level close to home. Such is the case for 2019 All-UWS defender Kylee McIntosh, who anchored a Connecticut Fusion defense that allowed only six goals during their undefeated regular season campaign - good for top spot in the East Conference. McIntosh was also named to the All-East First Team and garnered two UWS Team of the Week selections. The former Marist College star who led the Red Foxes to their first MAAC Championship in 2011 is now the head coach of her high school alma mater's girls soccer team in nearby Cheshire, CT. The Fusion gave Kylee a shot to play at one of the highest levels in the world once again. She has taken her chance and became one of the top defenders in UWS this past season. For an excellent feature article on McIntosh on the Marist College website, click HERE.