23 Female Players That Dominated 2023

23 Female Players That Dominated 2023
by Victor Olorunfemi
December 27, 2023
Players featured in this article:
D | Lou Fusz Athletic
MF | San Diego Surf
GK | Galaxy SC (IL)
MF | Angel City FC
F | FC Barcelona
F | WNY Flash Academy
F | Michigan Hawks
Ayva Jordan |  2026
F | Slammers
F | Gretna Soccer Club
F | Legends FC
F | San Diego Surf
F | KC Current
Casey Phair |  2026
F | Angel City FC
MF | San Diego Surf
Sydney Snow |  2026
F | Tophat SC
MF | Ajax

Welcome to the 2023 review you’ve been waiting for, covering the 23 female stars that defined the calendar year. From high school and collegiate legends to club soccer champions and youth national team stars, this list is all-encompassing. The only exclusions are players who did most of their work in the professional ranks or overseas, regardless of age. For example, Alyssa Thompson and Lily Yohannes had outstanding years, but the former did it exclusively as a professional, and the latter is excelling in the Netherlands. With that said, here we go. 

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Addison Baldus, Lou Fusz SC – Baldus grabbed 2023 by the horns as she proved time and time again that she is the key to a winning formula. The two-sport star won Illinois Soccer and Basketball state champions with O’Fallon Township High School, then in the summer, added a Girls Academy National Trophy and U16 GA MVP with Lou Fusz to complete the impressive haul. And as a center-back with the skills and athleticism to drive into the attack, Baldus is a sure bet to make an impact in the games that matter most. 

Melanie Barcenas, San Diego Surf/San Diego Wave – The youngest player to ever play in an NWSL game at 15 years and 177 days, the San Diego native first rose to national prominence when she signed a professional contract with the Wave in March. Barcenas qualifies as she started the season with the San Diego Surf academy before taking her talents to the professional ranks. If you have not yet, make the time to watch a Barcenas performance. They do not make attackers with her creative ingenuity anymore. 

Nia Christopher, Eagle FC/Towson - At all fronts, Christopher was a game-breaker this season. In the USL W this summer, the Bermuda international was a First Team All-League performer as she led Eagle FC to a semi-final berth. Then, in the fall, Christopher managed 14 goals and nine assists as she won CAA Attacking Player of the Year while guiding Towson to a first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. 

Jordynn Dudley, United Football Academy/Florida State – Dudley had a Freshman season for the ages. Florida State accomplished an undefeated national championship, and the Georgia native received College Cup Offensive MVP. That was after ending her prep career as the Cambridge High School all-time leading scorer in basketball and doubling as a four-time All-State selection on the soccer field. 

Ella-Marie Etienne, Savannah United – Savannah may have failed to win the U15 USYS National Championship, but Etienne shined enough as the tournament’s top scorer that she also won MVP. Interestingly, the Panamanian-American was guest playing for the squad as she did for other teams in a calendar year that saw her share her talents with some of the best in the region.

Hannah Folliard, Galaxy SC – The star keeper on a team that won a second consecutive national title this summer, Folliard made 2023 her own. The Illinois-based club has since moved to the Girls Academy, and the 6-foot athletic keeper has proved she is still among the best prospects in her position. 

Kennedy Fuller, Solar SC – The winner of the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year award, Fuller had an elite year. Those honors pair well with ECNL All-American honors at Solar SC as the Texas native proved she could be dominant for club and school. 

Onyeka Gamero, Beach FC/Barcelona – When a 17-year-old is the go-to player for the U.S. U20 national team, you know they must be pretty special. That tagline applies to Gamero, who shined bright at the U20 Concacaf tournament before signing for Barcelona in the summer. Unfortunately, a torn ACL in the last month will momentarily halt the rise of one of the most promising youth prospects in soccer. 

Shae Harvey, Slammers FC HB Koge/Stanford – Harvey is the type of player to go unnoticed on elite teams as she does all the dirty and unglorified work in the midfield. She won the U19 ECNL trophy with Slammers in the summer, then seamlessly slotted into the Stanford midfield, starting all 25 games as the team’s only loss came in the national final. The stats will never show her impact, but the California native left her imprint all over 2023. 

Megan Hinnenkamp, KC Athletics/Florida – On June 3rd, Hinnenkamp got her storybook ending as she scored an overtime game-winner in the Missouri State final to complete a hattrick and give Liberty North a 22-0 season and first-ever state championship. Three weeks later, Gatorade recognized her as the Missouri Player of the Year. On August 27th, she scores her first collegiate goal with two against Stetson. October rolls around, and Hinnenkamp wins Co-SEC Freshman of the Year, followed by TopDrawerSoccer Freshman All-American honors in December. That is quite the calendar year. 

Wrianna Hudson, WNY Flash – If you have not seen it by now, check out the viral goal Hudson scored for Greece Athena High School in September. Prospects rarely have her combination of height, strength, agility, and slick footwork. And that skillset showed once again as the Florida State commit took over the High School All-American game in December with a two-goal MVP performance.

Micayla Johnson, Michigan Hawks – 2023 was the year of Johnson. A year after winning the Girls Academy U14 title with Nationals SC, Johnson made a switch to the Michigan Hawks ahead of the playoffs and helped the team to a U15 ECNL national title. Not many can say they have conquered both the GA and the ECNL, but Johnson is one of the few. The natural progressions is with the USYNT, and the Michigan active is well on her way as she broke through to national team regular by September.  

Ayva Jordan, Slammers FC HB Koge – Her hat trick in the ECNL U16 final may not have been enough to win the title, but in that game alone, Jordan displayed her credentials as one of the premier talents in the country. Add the several call-ups to the U.S. youth national team, and you have quite the year. 

Allison Marshall, Gretna Elite Academy – Marshall had a dominant high school season as the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year for a second straight season while winning a third consecutive state trophy at Gretna High School. Add the recognition as an ECNL First-Team All-Conference performer, and you have a player who excelled at all levels throughout the year.

Zoe Matthews, Legends SC – Nowadays, social media is a large part of recruiting, but the talent has to match for that to be true, and Matthews is the perfect example. With an excellent media presence thanks to standout performances and viral moments, the LSU commit backed it up with call-ups to the Jamaica and U.S. youth national teams and a starring role on a dominant Legends SC squad. 

Lexi Missimo, Texas – TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Year, 20-20 season, Big 12 tournament title, College All-American. Missimo was unstoppable this season as she amassed 26 goals and 20 assists for 72 points, the 15th most in NCAA history. The only question left to conclude the year is whether she is going pro or returning for senior year. 

Felicity Nguyen, So Cal Blues – As the middle school age groups round out into Freshman year, previously unknown talents start sticking out. An example is Nguyen, who landed on the national radar with multiple match-winning performances at ECNL nationals. The Vietnamese-American has since become a leading member of the U15 national team. 

Alexandra Pfeiffer, SLSG Navy – If 2022 wasn’t already, then 2023 was the year of Pfeiffer. An 07 player a year up, the Saint Louis attacker led the team to a second straight ECNL title. To be the star on one of the best teams in ECNL history while playing against the older competition is unfathomable, as is Pfeiffer scoring six goals in a game to open the national playoffs. Perhaps it is fitting that the KC Current landed the player many consider the future of American soccer, as the NWSL side opens the CPKC stadium next season, the first women’s soccer-specific stadium in American history. 

Casey Phair, PDA Blue – Phair gained international recognition this summer as she earned a call-up to the South Korean national team and became the youngest, male or female, to ever play at a World Cup at 16 years and 23 days. It was not for show either, as Phair received plenty of minutes and nearly scored. That breakthrough moment would come in October with her hattrick against Thailand in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The endorsements have since racked up as Phair, who was on the USYNT before South Korea swooped in, has become one of the leading figures in the next generation of women’s soccer. 

Citlalli Reyes, San Diego Surf – The San Diego squad employs a playing style rivaling some of the best in the country, and the midfield engine that drives it all is Reyes. Whether ball carrying, finding the final pass, or breaking up play, Reyes excels at it all, and spectators are often left impressed anytime she plays. 

Sydney Snow, Tophat SC – One of the best ongoing rivalries in youth soccer is between Tophat Gold and Nationals SC in the 08 Girls Academy age group. The two teams rarely lose, score a lot of goals, and have met in numerous finals, including the last two national championships. But until this summer, Nationals SC routinely got the better of the Atlanta-based club. That changed in July as Tophat avenged a loss from the year before by defeating Nationals SC 1-0 in the GA final, courtesy of a goal from Snow, who also won tournament MVP. With an electric playing style founded in exceptional technique and how she routinely plays with her head up in the final third, the Georgia native creates chances in abundance. 

Deus Stanislaus, PDA Blue – Widely regarded as the best player on a stacked PDA Blue 09 team that has lost just once in two years, Stanislaus made 2023 her year. She had already earned national team camp call-ups by May, and she backed up that resume with elite performances in the ECNL playoffs, cumulating in a goal in the final as the New Jersey-based club avenged a national final loss the year before.  

McKenna Whitham, MVLA – A 2010-born player who has been moved up an age to the U15 national team, Whitham is a prospect with growing national recognition. She stood out at a regional camp in February, then led her team to a narrow loss in the ECNL U13 final in the summer before earning a call-up to the U15 USYNT camp in October.

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