Longtime North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance
has called it the biggest change in women's soccer in the last decade.
Canadian players have
played a growing role in the success of nationally ranked teams. In 2002 and 2005, Canada national team star Christine Sinclair
led Portland to NCAA Division
I titles. In 2004, Canadian Katie Thorlakson
was instrumental in Notre Dame's championship run.
Fourteen of the 23 foreigners who are starting for
teams in the Soccer America Women's Top 25
are Canadians. Unbeaten West Virginia has surged into the No. 7 spot with the help
of three Canadian starters Amanda Cicchini
, Deana Everrett
and Robin Rushton
A fourth Canadian, Nicole Mailloux
, has also seen significant action.
The impact of Canadians is even more dramatic at Maine, which moved into the
Top 25 for the first time in its history this week. The No. 24 Black Bears start eight Canadians.
The majority of Canada's national team, one of the most progressive women's programs in
the world, have played or currently play at U.S. colleges. North Carolina's Robyn Gayle
, Nebraska's Brittany Timko
Princeton's Diana Matheson
missed the first week of the college season to play for Canada on tour in France. Florida's Melanie
and Portland freshman Sophie Schmidt
are red-shirting in 2006 to concentrate on their national team duties. In addition, UCLA's Kara Lang
, the most highly recruited Canadian in history, is sidelined with a knee injury.
The foreign influence in women's soccer isn't as great as it is in
men's soccer. The 26 teams in the Women's Top 25 -- two teams are tied for No. 25 -- average only 0.88 foreign starters. In last week's survey of Men's Top 25 teams, the average was 1.36 foreign
starters per team. Ironically, not one Men's Top 25 team started a Canadian. WOMEN'S TOP 25 FOREIGNERS
RANK/TEAM (FOREIGN STARTERS)
1. Notre Dame 0 2. North
(Robyn Gayle-Canada) 3. Florida State 5
(Katrin Schmidt-Germany, Selin Kuralay-Australia, Kirsten van de Ven-Netherlands, Mami
Yamaguchi-Japan, Iraia Iturregi-Spain). 4. Portland 0 5. Santa Clara 0 6. UCLA 0 7. West Virginia 3
(Amanda Cicchini-Canada, Deana Everrett-Canada, Robin Rushton-Canada) 8. Penn State 0 9. Rice 0 10. Texas 1
Gibson-Canada) 11. Virgina 0 12. Texas A&M 0 13. Villanova 0 14. BYU 0 15.
California 0 16. Wake Forest 0 17. Purdue 1
(Sylvia Forbes-Canada) 18. Boston University 0 19. Tennessee 0 20. Pepperdine 0 21. Florida 0 22. Oklahoma State 3
(Angelika Feldbacher-Germany, Yolanda Odenyo-Sweden, Adriane Radtke-Germany) 23. Loyola Marymount 0 24. Maine 8
(Jasmine Phillips-Canada, Anjelica Hodgson-Canada, Marie-Andree Canuel-Canada,
Christine LaBelle-Canada, Marie-Michele Bouchard-Canada, Laura Harper-Canada, Varonique Fleury-Canada, Jordon Pekrul-Canada) 25. Navy 0 25. William & Mary 1
(Donna Mataya-Canada) (Foreigners who have
started at least half of their team's games through Sept 27.)