METUCHEN, NJ - A panel of women’s football experts from around the world - highlighted by legendary names like Mia Hamm, Nadine Kessler, Sissi and Sun Wen - have shortlisted ten players for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2017 award. Alongside international talent on the level of United States Women’s National Team midfielder Carli Lloyd, Germany star Dzsenifer Marozsan and France standout Wendie Renard, 2017 United Women’s Soccer (UWS) Player of the Year and Florida State University sophomore Deyna Castellanos was named to this prestigious list. The Venezuelan phenom took the pitch for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat this summer, starting in nine matches overall while tallying six goals and two assists for the UWS National Finalists.
The winner of this award will be chosen by a process involving four criteria: national team coaches, captains, selected media and the fans. FIFA is conducting a fan vote and that has commenced through their official website via this link. Voting closes on Thursday, September 7th and the three final nominees for the men’s & women’s player and coach categories - as well as for the FIFA Puskas Award, the FIFA Fan Award and the brand new The Best FIFA Goalkeeper Award - will be announced in mid-September. The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony will take place on Monday, October 23rd. You can join the discussion on Twitter about who should win this year’s prizes by using the hashtag #TheBest.
TOP GOAL OF THE YEAR… speaking of top honors, Castellanos was part of another recent online contest where the fans could have their say as the league announced the 2017 UWS Goal of the Year competition. Out of four worthy nominees in the online poll, her game-winning goal against So Cal Crush shared UWS GOY honors with Michaela Kovacs’ game-tying goal in the 2017 National Semifinal for Grand Rapids FC against Long Island. You can view Castellanos’ 35-yard chip to win the SCCFC game at this link while you can view Kovac’s dramatic header to force penalty kicks via this link. The Venezuelan international has continued her scoring streak, as she tallied all three goals in FSU’s season-opening shutout win over UNC-Greensboro this past weekend.
NEW WAVE FOR SURF STAR… another player involved in the UWS Goal of the Year competition has also seen an exciting turn of events in her career over the past week as former New York Surf & Sky Blue FC midfielder Kelly Conheeney was signed as a discovery player by the Houston Dash this past week. Conheeney’s assist on Erica Murphy’s game-winning goal for New York over Long Island was certainly GOY-worthy and you can view it via this link. The 26-year-old Virginia Tech product began the 2017 season with Sky Blue FC, where she scored one goal in 13 games for the team in 2016. The Surf serve as the official amateur affiliate for the SBFC organization and the first-year organization finished in fourth place in the tough UWS East Conference this past season with a 6-2-2 record.
SCORING A WORLDY… the fourth nominee for UWS GOY consideration - forward Joelle Gosselin’s game-tying blast in a 4-1 win over Houston - has been bringing her heroics to the international level. Gosselin and four other Calgary Foothills Women’s FC stars are taking part in the 2017 World University Games in Taipei for Team Canada. The 2017 All-UWS Second Team selection scored seven goals and an assist for Calgary, leading the team in scoring. She has been joined by goalkeeper Sarah Dilling, All-West Conference defender Melissa Roy, midfielder Arielle Roy-Petitclerc and forward Jordan Smith on Team Canada. They have advanced to a quarterfinal match this Thursday against Brazil with thanks to Gosselin, as she scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Ireland this past Sunday.
FROM SERBIA WITH LOVE… another Calgary star has continued to develop her career as CFWFC midfielder Alix Bruch recently signed a professional contract with ZFK Spartak Subotica, the top women’s professional side in Serbia and a participant in the UEFA Women's Champion's League. Spartak ranks 23rd out of 61 teams participating this year in Europe’s most prestigious club competition. The two-time AUS Second Team selection for St. Francis Xavier University played in four matches for Calgary, who finished in second-place in their inaugural season in the UWS West. Bruch had this to say about her 2017 season with CFWFC: “It was an excellent group of players and a high-intensity training environment that kept me fit and challenged me to raise my game.”
SHORELINE TO SWITZERLAND… 2017 UWS East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and New Jersey Copa FC defender Rebecca Raber has joined Copa goalkeeper Kristyn Shea at FF Lugano 1776, who compete in the top tier of women’s soccer in Switzerland. FF Lugano finished sixth last season in the Women's Nationalliga A with a record of 7-6-5, giving them a total of 27 points. Raber started every game for NJCFC this past season and was named to the All-UWS First Team for her stalwart presence on the backline. Shea was the 2016 UWS East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and in addition to playing for Copa in 2017 (3-0-1 record, 13 saves) she also played for the NWSL Sky Blue Reserves over the summer. The full Copa release is available via this link.
About United Women’s Soccer (UWS): UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Media can contact UWS Director of Communications Jorma Kansanen by e-mail at UWSPress@gmail.com. You can visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact League Commissioner Joe Ferrara, Jr. by e-mail at Joe@UWSSoccer.com.