The new US colleges season sees 19 Irish players vying for the division one NCAA 2014 title with Sarah Hawkshaw, Katie Miller, Philippa Cotter, Lauren McGrane, Edel Nyland and Kate Harvey adding to the wild geese whose season gets underway this week.
They will hope to emulate the feat of Roisin Upton who was one of the stars of collegiate title winning UConn Huskies last term, starting all 25 of their games and scoring 12 goals from midfield.Her side go into the new season rated as the fourth best team in the NCAA preseason ratings and the Limerick woman, now in her third season in the US, will be one of three team captains following a call-up to the All-American second team last year.
Emma Russell’s Syracuse, second on paper, are the highest rated team preseason to feature an Irish player and she will among their key players after a stellar 2013 in which she scored 12 goals and recorded 11 assists for the Big Orange
Of the new arrivals stateside, Sarah Hawkshaw is, perhaps, the marquee name to make the move having played a key role in midfield last season with Railway Union.
The Leinster U-21 player – who also represented Ireland in cross country and Dublin in ladies football at underage level – has linked up with University of Massachussetts after a breakout year in which she played in the top tier of European club competition and will hope to inspire the Minutewomen.
She joins another former Railway player, Cliodhna Loughlin – who played 18 times last season – at the top rated side in the Atlantic 10 conference and pegged at 11th in the national rankings. They start their season next Friday against University of Maryland.
Of the other new arrivals, Cotter has taken up a place at Boston College having played for the past two seasons in Mount Anville’s senior team, scoring two goals and helping the Goatstown outfit win the Leinster league title in 2013. The Eagles are ranked tenth in the country and will play in the hugely competitive Atlantic Coast conference.
After a year with UCD’s Irish Junior Cup winning team, former Corinthian and Wesley player Lauren McGrane switches to Michigan State and has impressed in pressason, playing her part in a 5-3 win over Kent State, coming back from a 3-1 deficit.
King’s Hospital alumni goalkeeper Katie Miller will play with her there and will vye for the number one smock with Sierra Patton.
Munster women Edel Nyland and Kate Harvey will line out for the Longwood Lancers for their debut year in the MAC conference. The former is a Ursuline Thurles graduate with Harvey, a former Munster Under-21 and Irish Under-18 in 2012, moving following a year with UCC.
Chloe McIlwaine is a Belfast native who subsequently moved on from Lurgan hockey club to Northumbria University where she was club president. Her path has taken her to Robert Morris University and this year to Central Michigan University.
She is one of four players from Lurgan who are now playing in the US system with Barr sisters Natalie, Serena and Bethany all lining out for the Liberty Flames, rated 36th.
Natalie became the university’s first ever player to be named in the Longstreth/NFHCA Division I All-South Region first team while her younger sisters both also receiving honours. Serena was named NorPac rookie of the year
At 18th ranked Northwestern Uni, Lisa McCarthy – yet another Railway graduate – is back for her third season having been named in the First-team All-West region selection and the second-team All-Big Ten representative sides for 2013. Former Alex player Juliet Beatty is in her second year with the Wildcats.
Richmond Spiders, rated 25th, continue to enjoy the services of Ballyclare’s Amy Cooke – now in her third year – and Limerick’s Rebecca Barry who has had a decorated career in the US, being named three times in the Atlantic 10 All-Tournament team.Hannah McDermott, another Alex graduate, will play with 43rd rated Indiana Hoosiers. Trish O’Dwyer – formerly of Railway and Loreto Beaufort – is in her graduate year with 57th ranked Monmouth University.
Roisin Upton – UConn Huskies
Sarah Hawkshaw – UMass
Cliodhna Loughlin – UMass
Emma Russell – Syracuse
Philippa Cotter – Boston College
Katie Miller – Michigan State
Lauren McGrane – Michigan State
Juliet Beatty – Northwestern
Lisa McCarthy – Northwestern
Rebecca Barry – Richmond Spiders
Amy Cooke – Richmond Spiders
Hannah McDermott – Indiana Hoosiers
Edel Nyland – Longwood Lancers
Kate Harvey – Longwood Lancers
Trish O’Dwyer – Monmouth
Natalie Barr – Liberty Flames –
Serena Barr – Liberty Flames
Bethany Barr – Liberty Flames
Chloe McIlwaine – Central Michigan University