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.
METUCHEN, NJ - United Women's Soccer (UWS) member teams take pride in helping student-athletes reach the next level of their respective soccer careers over the summer months. Recently, awards season has started in the collegiate ranks and current & former UWS stars were recognized for their efforts in their fall competitive seasons. In this first edition of our collegiate awards recap, we highlight over 20 UWS standouts who were honored with All-Conference plaudits. Conferences included in this edition are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference-USA and Mid-American Conference. Further recaps will follow in the coming days.
Notable names in this edition include: Florida State University stars Deyna Castellanos & Natalia Kuikka, 2017 UWS Player of the Year and 2017 UWS West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, respectively; C-USA Goalkeeper of the Year and Long Island Rough Riders shot-stopper Kelsey Daugherty; C-USA Freshman of the Year and Indy Premier SC star Hannah Tillett, a 2017 UWS Midwest Conference selection; MAC Offensive Player of the Year and WNY Flash forward Erica Hubert; MAC Freshman of the Year and Michigan Legends midfielder Tatiana Mason; and, All-MAC First Team selection Carissima Cutrona, who is a 2017 & 2018 All-United Women's Soccer First Team honoree for the WNY Flash.
Atlantic Coast Conference First Team
F Deyna Castellanos (Florida State Univ. - Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
Atlantic Coast Conference Second Team
D Natalia Kuikka (Florida State Univ. - Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
Big Ten Conference Second Team
MF Charlotte Williams (Penn State Univ. - Western New York Flash)
Big Ten Conference Third Team
F Mykayla Brown (Indiana Univ. - Indy Premier SC)
MF Natalie Winters (Univ. of Iowa - Detroit Sun FC)
D Madison Pogarch (Rutgers Univ. - Detroit Sun FC)
D Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers Univ. - New England Mutiny)
GK Rachel Egyed (Univ. of Maryland - TSF Academy)
Big Ten Conference Freshman Team
MF Talani Barnett (Ohio State Univ. - New York Surf)
Big 12 Conference Second Team
D/MF Paige Welch (Oklahoma Univ. - FC Austin Elite)
C-USA Goalkeeper of the Year
Conference USA First Team
GK Kelsey Daugherty (UAB - Long Island Rough Riders)
C-USA Freshman of the Year
Conference USA First Team
Conference USA All-Freshman Team
MF Hannah Tillett (Middle Tennessee State Univ. - Indy Premier SC)
Conference USA Second Team
MF Miah Zuazua (Southern Miss. Univ. - North Texas Image)
F Annie Walker (Rice Univ. - Detroit Sun FC)
Conference USA Third Team
MF Amber Hoot (Middle Tennessee State Univ. - Fort Wayne United)
Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year
All-MAC First Team
F Erica Hubert (Bowling Green Univ. - Western New York Flash)
Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year
All-MAC Second Team
All-MAC Freshman Team
MF Tatiana Mason (Ball State Univ. - Michigan Legends FC)
Mid-American Conference First Team
F Carissima Cutrona (Univ. of Buffalo - Western New York Flash)
MF Alyssa Burke (Western Michigan Univ. - Detroit Sun FC)
D Morgan Abbitt (Bowling Green Univ. - Toledo Villa)
Mid-American Conference Second Team
F Lexi Pelafas (Central Michigan Univ. - Lansing United)
Mid-American Conference Freshman Team
D Tess Ford (Univ. of Buffalo - Western New York Flash)
MF Ashton Cassel (Univ. of Toledo - Detroit Sun FC)
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.
METUCHEN, NJ - With the All-Conference teams being announced throughout the week, it's now time to announce the 2018 All-United Women's Soccer Team and the major award winners from the season. The third year of play in UWS was one that experienced continued growth on and off the field and produced a great finish to the campaign. Expansion teams competed well across all conferences, including Lansing United winning the Midwest Regular Season crown, while a charter member, the Houston Aces, won their first league title as they defeated Inferno Rush 1-0 in the UWS National Final.
2018 UWS Most Valuable Player - Brooke Barbuto (Rochester Lady Lancers)
Brooke Barbuto was heralded by many within the league as the most consistent player that took to the field throughout the season. The former Stony Brook midfielder was an integral part of making the Rochester Lady Lancers, a team that took only one point in the 2017 season, to become a playoff contender in 2018. She started all ten matches for the Lady Lancers and never left the field while scoring eight goals and assisting on two others, which secured her a top-five finish in UWS for both goals and points (18) categories along with leading all midfielders in those categories as well.
"It's an honor and privilege to win an individual award like this, and I am grateful to my team for helping me achieve this award," said Barbuto. "I have played both domestically and Internationally and the players and league deserve recognition for the level of play and the high standards the league has set. Obviously we had hoped to win a championship and while being a game away from securing a playoff position was devastating, that doesn't take away from the success we had. We made great improvements from last season, and hoping to continue building next season. Thanks to the Lancers organization for the opportunity!"
2018 UWS Offensive Player of the Year - Haley Crawford (Inferno Rush)
It was a breakout season for the James Madison University striker as Haley Crawford finished in second place in UWS for goals and tied for third in total points. The East Conference was loaded with top-goal scorers as four of the top six goals leaders came from the conference and Crawford found herself in the mix all season long. She finished the campaign with a flurry by scoring in four of the last five regular season matches, including three multi-goal efforts and tallied all four goals for Inferno in their 4-2 road win against Western New York in Week IX. But her big moment came in the UWS National Semifinals as during a driving rainstorm, she guided the Rush to a 4-3 victory over Grand Rapids FC Women by scoring a hat trick, helping them reach their first UWS National Finals appearance.
“I enjoyed every minute on the field and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to play with," said Crawford. "I feel honored to receive UWS Offensive Player of the year and I wouldn’t have done it without the support from my family, coaches and teammates. This season was definitely one to remember.”
2018 UWS Defensive Player of the Year - Natalie Jacobs (LA Galaxy OC Women)
Expansion teams competed well all throughout the 2018 season but notably, LA Galaxy OC Women gave every team in the West a run for their money as they created a pathway to the Conference crown before ultimately finishing in second. A main reason for that was the stout defensive work of Natalie Jacobs. The USC Trojan and former US Youth International showed poise and grit throughout the entire campaign for LAGOC as she started all ten matches for the club and netted a pair of goals. She also helped shore up the LA defense to have one of the best records in the league, allowing just ten goals and posting four clean sheets.
"I am so grateful to have won this award. I had a great time competing in the UWS and playing center back for my team," said Jacobs. "Playing with and being surrounded by so many talented players was a wonderful and humbling experience. Thank you to the LA Galaxy OC organization, the coaching staff, and all my teammates for a great summer."
2018 UWS Coach of the Year - Troye Flannery (Calgary Foothills Women's FC)
After earning the West Conference Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons, Troye Flannery gets the nod as the UWS Coach of the Year for the 2018 season. After guiding Calgary Foothills Women's FC to a second place finish last year, his club took the next step this campaign by winning the West Conference title wire-to-wire and advanced to the UWS National Semifinal. He also guided seven players to earn All-West Conference accolades and another three to all-league honors this season.
“Absolutely flattered by the selection and proud to accept the award on behalf of the team," said Flannery. "It is a truly exceptional league and although we fell short of our team goals this recognition is humbling and without question a result of an exceptional group of players, a committed and talented coaching staff, tireless backroom/operations staff, sponsors, supporters and an incredible club, supporting this project and myself every step of the way. The mandate from Day 1 was a passion to extend a pathway for Canadian Women to play in a standards based setting which the UWS has provided and we have benefited from 15 year old Grace Stordy to Canadian International Steph Labbé with this opportunity. I personally have grown with this project and have the utmost respect for the league and the coaches in our conference and league wide - thank you so very much.”
2018 UWS Co-Organization of the Year - Calgary Foothills Women's FC and Lansing United
United Women’s Soccer is happy to announce for the first time in league history that they will honor an Organization of the Year. This award will be given to an organization in recognition of their achievements and success both on and off the field along with going above and beyond in representing themselves in the ideals and standards that UWS has set.
For 2018, UWS has announced co-winners for the Organization of the Year award and the recipients are Calgary Foothills Women’s FC and Lansing United.
“We are excited to unveil this honor for the first time in league history and to award it to two very deserving organizations,” said UWS Commissioner Joseph Ferrara, Jr. “Calgary are one of the most professional clubs that I’ve worked with and hold themselves to very high standards. And Lansing came in this year and set the bar for future expansion clubs with their excellent marketing efforts and on-field product.”
2018 All-United Women's Soccer First Team
GK: Kelly O’Brien (Inferno Rush)
D: Natalie Jacobs (LA Galaxy OC Women)
D: Olivia Trombley (Lansing United)
D: Kylee McIntosh (Connecticut Fusion)
MF: Brooke Barbuto (Rochester Lady Lancers)
MF: Jessica Jones (Calgary Foothills Women’s FC)
MF: Tesa McKibben (Inferno Rush)
MF: Dani Evans (Detroit Sun FC)
F: Gisela Arrieta (Houston Aces)
F: Haley Crawford (Inferno Rush)
F: Carissima Cutrona (Western New York Flash)
2018 All-United Women's Soccer Second Team
GK: Stephanie Labbé (Calgary Foothills Women’s FC)
D: Aubrey Suydam (Inferno Rush)
D: Athena Biondi (Lansing United)
D: Grace Stordy (Calgary Foothills Women’s FC)
MF: Riko Sagara (Lansing United)
MF: Teresa Rook (Rynier) (Inferno Rush)
MF: Grace Labadie (Grand Rapids FC Women)
MF: Sabrina Flores (LA Galaxy OC Women)
F: Kate Howarth (New England Mutiny)
F: Tori Sousa (Connecticut Fusion)
F: Julie Gavorski (Houston Aces)
2018 UWS WEEKLY AWARDS
Offensive Player of the Week
Week I: Madison Schupbach (Detroit Sun FC)
Week II: Brooke Barbuto (Rochester Lady Lancers)
Week III: Tesa McKibben (Inferno Rush)
Week IV: Kassandra Massey (Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
Week V: Lexi Pelafas (Lansing United)
Week VI: Julie Gavorski (Houston Aces)
Week VII: Rachel DeLuca (Detroit Sun FC)
Week VIII: Angelina Hix (LA Galaxy OC Women)
Week IX: Haley Crawford (Inferno Rush)
Week X: Samantha Maher (Grand Rapids FC Women)
Defensive Player of the Week
Week I: Lysianne Proulx (New England Mutiny)
Week II: Yadira Toraya (Santa Clarita Blue Heat)
Week III: Tori Martyn (Calgary Foothills Women's FC)
Week IV: Stephanie Labbé (Calgary Foothills Women's FC)
Week V: Kelly O’Brien (Inferno Rush)
Week VI: Natalie Jacobs (LA Galaxy OC Women)
Week VII: Emma Gervase (Western New York Flash)
Week VIII: Ashley Chilcoat (Inferno Rush)
Week IX: Stephanie Labbé (Calgary Foothills Women's FC)
Week X: Meghan Dalton (Connecticut Fusion)
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.