METUCHEN, NJ - For the second straight season, United Women's Soccer added a new conference and in 2018, the Southwest Conference was born. The five-team division was based solely in the state of Texas and saw a familiar team to the league, the Houston Aces, become it's first conference champion. After spending the first two season of UWS play in the West Conference, the Aces ran right through the competition in the Southwest, winning all eight of their games and outscoring their opponents 53-3. And if that wasn't enough, they claimed their first league title with a 1-0 victory over the Inferno Rush in the UWS National Final.
Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year - Gisela Arrieta (Houston Aces)
The Colombian international had a season to remember in 2018 as she led the UWS in scoring with 15 goals and 31 points. After going goalless in the Aces' opening match, the Graceland University product went off, scoring in seven straight matches with five of those being multi-goal games. Then she carried the form into the postseason where she made defenses cringe in trying to defend her. She scored the equalizing goal in the UWS National Semifinal victory over Calgary and then despite not scoring in the Final, she created several good chances against Inferno Rush and opened up space for the rest of her attacking unit. Houston will hope that they will see a replication of her 2018 success in 2019 as this was a special year for her.
Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year - Natalia Ariza (Houston Aces)
It was a solid campaign in the back for Natalia Ariza as she featured in every match for the Aces and was an integral part of holding opponents to just three goals throughout the regular season. In addition to scoring three goals during the regular season, the UWS National Championship weekend was when the 2012 Olympian shined the most in squaring off against two quality opponents in Calgary and Inferno. She handled the pressure of a major competition with great composure and hardly missed out on a challenge that entire weekend, including leading the side to a clean sheet over 120 minutes in the Final against the Inferno Rush.
Southwest Conference Coach of the Year - Gui Ferreira (Houston Aces)
After the Aces ran right through the Southwest Conference in the regular season, Gui Ferreira lead the Aces to their first UWS league title in impressive fashion. With their perfect season and setting new records for most goals scored and least goals conceded in a season, Ferreira nets his first Coach of the Year accolade in UWS.
2018 UWS All-Southwest Conference Team
GK: Anna Hughes (Houston Aces)
D: Shauna Peare (Houston Aces)
D: Carina Baltrip-Reyes (FC Austin Elite)
D: Natalia Ariza (Houston Aces)
MF: Tatiana Ariza (Houston Aces)
MF: Emily Jorgens (FC Austin Elite)
MF: Marina Diaz Leal Arrellaga (Houston Aces)
F: Gisela Arrieta (Houston Aces)
F: Christina Arteaga (FC Austin Elite)
F: Julie Gavorski (Houston Aces)
F: Mackenzie Scovill (North Texas Image)
2018 UWS All-Southwest Conference Honorable Mention
D: Alexia Salas (North Texas Image)
D: Jennifer LaPonte (Houston Aces)
D: Natalya Ramirez (North Texas Image)
M: Paige Hayward (Houston Aces)
M: Miah Zuazua (North Texas Image)
M: Sabrina Munguia (HAR FC)
F: Kimberlin Palacios (FC Austin Elite)
F: Desiree Morgas (ASA El Paso)
2018 UWS Team of the Week selections (Combined by Team)
FC Austin Elite:
DEF: Carina Baltrip-Reyes (Week VII)
MID: Emily Jorgens (Week IX)
FOR: Jayme Woodfill (Week VII hon. mention), Christina Arteaga (FCA, Week IX)
ASA El Paso:
FOR: Desiree Morgas (Week V)
MID: Idalys Rea (Week X hon. mention)
DEF: Shauna Peare (Week VIII)
FOR: Rachel Owens (Week IV), Gisela Arrieta (Week V hon. mention, Week VII), Julie Gavorski (Week VI)
North Texas Image:
DEF: Alexia Salas (Week VIII hon. mention)
MID: Miah Zuazua (Week IX)
FOR: Mackenzie Scovill (Week V hon. mention)
About United Women's Soccer:
UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer. 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 the UWS Communications office 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.