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College players at CONCACAF Oly. qualifying

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: February 10, 2016

Uncertainty may linger over the 2016 Olympics in Brazil this summer, though it’s full steam ahead for women’s CONCACAF qualifying.

Eight teams are set to duke it out in Texas for two spots in this year’s Olympics, with Canada and the United States entering as the obvious favorites to advance.

A handful of recent NCAA college stars dot each team’s roster, from the United States (Virginia’s Emily Sonnett), Costa Rica (Penn State’s Raquel Rodriguez and South Florida’s Diana Saenz) and even the Guyana (Evansville GK Simone Busby).

Current (and future) college players dot the rosters as well. Here’s a nation-by-nation look at which players from college who will battle for a spot to the Olympics.

annia mejia soccerAnnia Mejia

Canada

D Kadeisha Buchanan (West Virginia), F Nichelle Prince (Ohio State), D Rebecca Quinn (Duke), M Ashley Lawrence (West Virginia), M Jessie Fleming (UCLA)

No team features the same caliber of talent from the college ranks like Canada. Whether it’s World Cup veterans Buchanan and Lawrence, or rising stars like Prince, Quinn and Fleming, the younger players on this roster will need to play a big role in the race for Brazil.

Mexico

GK Esthefanny Barreras (Eastern Florida State College, D Greta Espinoza (Oregon State), D Annia Mejia (California), D Monica Flores (Notre Dame), F Tanya Samarzich (Kentucky), F Katie Johnson (USC)

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the Mexican women’s national team of late, as the criticism levied by Charlyn Corral led to her early retirement from international play. Still, the college talent here is pretty solid. Annia Mejia is a calm and composed central defender, while Flores is an attacking outside back that has been very good for Notre Dame. It’s a steep road to the Olympics for Mexico, though their college talent will need to step up if they are to spring the upset. Johnson, who will be a redshirt senior in the fall, adds firepower to the forwards on the roster.

Puerto Rico

GK Karly Gustafson (Winthrop)

A rising senior at Winthrop, Gustafson is one of three goalkeepers for a Puerto Rico side that’s unlikely to make it past the group stage.

Trinidad & Tobago

GK Shalette Alexander (Wiley College), M Khadidra Debesette (West Texas A&M University), M Karyn Forbes (West Texas A&M University), M Victoria Swift (Navarro College), M Kayla Taylor (Wiley College)

Current NAIA, Division II and Junior College talent dot the T&T roster. Based in a group with Guyana, Guatemala and Canada, a second place finish isn’t out of the question if things go well in Texas.

United States

F Mallory Pugh (UCLA)

While Pugh hasn’t officially reached the college ranks yet, she landed a spot on the roster and adds forwards depth to a team that suddenly lacks Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez. It wouldn’t be surprise to see her mostly come off the bench as the United States seeks to defend its gold medal in 2016.

 
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