THIRD TIME'S A CHARM FOR POPADINOVA... Florida Gulf Coast University & Santa Clarita Blue Heat star Evdokia Popadinova was named Bulgaria's top female footballer for the third straight year on Sunday. Popadinova was a United Soccer Coaches (USC) Division I All-America Second Team honoree for FGCU this past fall as she scored 14 goals and seven assists (35 points). Evdokia appeared in eight matches for Santa Clarita last summer and tallied two goals and an assist. She had first-hand experience with the Blue Heat in the 2017 post-season when she played against them in the United Women's Soccer (UWS) National Semifinal. Popadinova was named to the UWS All-Tournament Team for Detroit Sun FC for her strong performance in the loss against her future team.
MORE UWS ALUMNI ADDED TO NWSL DRAFT LIST... the preliminary list of draft-eligible players has been updated since its release in late December. Nine more UWS alumni will have the chance to make their professional dreams come true on Thursday, January 10 at 12:00 PM ET at the United Soccer Coaches (USC) Convention in Chicago, IL, bringing up the total to 22. 2017 All-UWS selection Bethany Balcer (Grand Rapids FC) and Western New York Flash forward Erica Hubert (2018 Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year) highlight the new additions, with the list provided below. For the full draft-eligible list, click HERE.
POS. NAME (COLLEGE / CLUB)
F/M Bethany Balcer (Spring Arbor University / Grand Rapids FC Women)
F/M Christina Bellero (St. John's University / Long Island Rough Riders)
F/D Mykayla Brown (Indiana University / Indy Premier SC)
M/D Ryley Bugay (Marquette University / FC Indiana)
F/M Erica Hubert (Bowling Green State University / Western New York Flash)
F/D Alex Kimball (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / Real Salt Lake Women)
M Sarah Kinzner (University of Colorado / Calgary Foothills WFC)
F/D Madison Pogarch (Rutgers University / Detroit Sun FC)
F/M Charlotte Williams (Penn State University / Western New York Flash)
SANTA CLARITA ANNOUNCE FIRST SIGNINGS... when the Blue Heat announced their first 2019 signings on social media, Popadinova was included amongst five returnees. She will once again play alongside a quartet with UCLA connections: goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy, midfielder Chloe Castaneda, defender Jacey Pederson and midfielder Viviana Villacorta. Villacorta also stars for the U.S. U-20's and three of her national team mates will join her this summer in Santa Clarita. Midfielder Savannah Demelo (First Team All-America for USC), forward Penelope Hocking (Pac-12 Freshman of the Year for USC) and forward Ashley Sanchez (First Team All-America for UCLA) will provide a potent injection of talent as the Blue Heat look to capture another league title. Santa Clarita captured the first-ever UWS Championship in 2016 and made it to the 2017 National Final before falling in double-overtime.
GRFC WOMEN ROLL THE BALL OUT... Grand Rapids Football Club announced that James Gilpin will return as the GRFC Women's coach for the 2019 campaign. Gilpin led the Ladies In Blue to a 7-1-2 regular season record and the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Playoffs last summer. GRFC Women went on to defeat Detroit via penalty kicks in the conference semifinals and topped Lansing United by a 4-2 score to lift the Midwest Championship for the second consecutive season. The 2018 season came to a disappointing end as they lost in the UWS National Semifinal at home. Gilpin will have the services of veteran midfielder/forward Marti Corby to count on for the 2019 season. Corby has been a GRFC regular the first two seasons and helped lead the team to a UWS National Championship in 2017. She was was named captain during the 2018 campaign and has scored 10 career goals, putting her second on the all-time list.
FROM CALGARY TO KALMAR... Calgary Foothills Women's FC forward Christabel Oduro has signed with IFK Kalmar of the Swedish Elitettan for the 2019 season. The 26-year-old Ontario-native has five caps for the Canadian Women's National Team and appeared in 10 games (one goal, two assists) for Calgary last summer. It was historic season for Foothills WFC, as the team won the West Conference title and advanced to the four-team UWS National Championship in their second-year of operation. IFK Kalmar is based in Kalmar, Sweden and will play in the second tier of Swedish women's soccer when the Elitettan kicks off this April. The team was relegated from the top-flight Damallsvenskan in October 2018 after a 12th-place finish.
About United Women's Soccer (UWS): We are 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.