METUCHEN, NJ - The holiday season has wrapped up but there was plenty of activity in the world of women's soccer as numerous United Women's Soccer (UWS) stars dotted the headlines. The United States Under-20 Women's National Team just completed their first training camp of 2018 and three UWS alums took part; the 2017 UWS West Defensive Player of the Year was honored as top player by her home country; the preliminary list of eligible players for the 2018 Draft was released by the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) and UWS was well represented; and another familiar standout is featured in our New Year's Roundup.
THREE UWS STARS WITH U.S. U-20's... the last training camp of 2017 (and correspondingly the first of 2018) was just completed for the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Three UWS stars - defender Emily Madril (Santa Clarita), midfielder Viviana Villacorta (Santa Clarita) and midfielder Natalie Winters (Detroit Sun FC) - took part as Head Coach Jitka Klimkova is in the process of choosing the final 20-player roster for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship, taking place from January 18-28 in Trinidad & Tobago. Madril played in 10 games this past summer for the 2017 West champion Blue Heat and was named to the UWS Team of the Week (Week 3) for her two-goal performance in a win over So Cal Crush FC. Villacorta started in the 2017 UWS National Semifinal & Final alongside Madril for Santa Clarita, and did the same for UCLA this past month. Winters just completed her sophomore season with the Iowa Hawkeyes, where she was a Third-Team All-Big Ten selection. For more information, click HERE.
KUIKKA NABS TOP FINN HONORS... the 2017 UWS West Defensive Player of the Year and Florida State University defender Natalia Kuikka was awarded her nation's top honors as the 2017 Finland Female Player of the Year. The Finnish Women's National Team finished 4-4-2 in international competition in 2017 (2-0-0 in FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying). While the exploits of her FSU teammate Deyna Castellanos have been much lauded, the strong two-way play of Kuikka on the flank was just as special this past summer for Santa Clarita. The Blue Heat defense allowed only five goals in eight regular season games with her leadership. She started in the 2017 UWS National Semifinal & Final alongside her FSU teammates Castellanos & Madril and UCLA's Villacorta. During her 2017 season with Florida State, she helped the Seminoles reach the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament and earned All-ACC First Team honors. For more information, click HERE.
NWSL RELEASES PRELIMINARY DRAFT LIST... the National Women's Soccer League released the preliminary list of registered players for the 2018 Draft. The draft will take place on January 18 at 10 AM ET at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, PA. Four UWS standouts were on the initial roster of draft-eligible players, headlined by 2017 UWS Defensive Player Of The Year & University of Wisconsin goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem. Detroit Sun FC finished in 2nd place in the Midwest and Clem started in seven regular season games (5-1-1 record, 3 shutouts, 7 goals allowed). Caitlyn took part in the Sun's playoff run, starting in all three postseason games including the 2017 National Semifinal. Forward Isabella Habuda teamed up with Clem for Detroit, and was tied for second in scoring (3 goals). The Liberty University star was named to the UWS Team of the Week (Week 1) for her 2 goals off the bench in a win at FC Indiana. Hayward has been a part of the Houston Aces the past two seasons and was named to the All-SWAC Second Team this past fall after leading Texas Southern University with eight goals (18 points). Abam starred for the Colorado Pride during the 2016 UWS season. For more information, click HERE.
MORE GOLDEN BALLS FOR BALCER... 2017 was an award-winning year for Grand Rapids FC Women midfielder Bethany Balcer. The UWS Midwest Player of the Year continued her torrid run for the 2017 UWS National Champions to fall competition with No. 1-nationally ranked & NAIA National Champion Spring Arbor University. Balcer completed her trophy shelf by being named the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NAIA Player of the Year late in December. She started all 26 games for SAU and scored 86 points (37g, 12a). In the 2017 NAIA Women's Soccer Championship, the leading scorer in UWS this past summer scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Benedictine in the final. The National Players of the Year will be honored for their accomplishments at the United Soccer Coaches All-America Luncheon on January 20, 2018 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in conjunction with the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Convention. For more information, click HERE.
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.