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Pro Prospects: DI stars heading abroad

Article Written by Travis Clark
Published: February 6, 2019

It’s been more than two months since the end of the 2018 women’s Division I soccer season, with spring preparations ramping up.

For the seniors that won’t return for another season due to graduation or moving on, the NWSL Draft has provided the next step in their careers. But for many other players from the fall, the chance to head to Europe is another.

Below is a country-by-country look at where some of last fall’s stars have signed in Europe:

France

Perhaps the biggest splash was made in January, when Stanford defender Alana Cook elected not to make herself available for the NWSL Draft. Around a week after that, she was announced as a new signing at Paris St. Germain, where she’ll look to battle for minutes during the second half of the season.

Cook’s new club returned to action over the weekend, beating Montpellier HSC by a 4-0 score. One of the starters in Saturday’s game was Easther Mayi Kith, making her pro debut. The West Virginia defender and Canada native was one of the first seniors from last year’s crop to turn pro.

Former Miami (FL) goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce, who was club teammates with Cook, inked a deal with Stade de Reims, in the D2 Féminine (France’s Second Division). Tullis-Joyce will look to win the starting role as the club inches closer to automatic promotion to the first division, sitting atop Group A at this point in the season.

Staying in the ACC, Notre Dame forward Karin Muya also joined a D2 Féminine squad earlier in the year, as she inked a deal with CSFA Ambilly. They currently sit in eighth place in Group B.

England

Florida State’s Megan Connolly was one of the most recent signees to be announced as an addition to a FA Women’s Super League team. She joined Brighton & Hove Albion Women, sitting in ninth place in the table. The Irish international made her club debut this past weekend in a 2-0 loss against Manchester United in the Women’s FA Cup.

One spot ahead of them is a team that features a handful of NCAA veterans. Jemma Purfield, the English left back that spent two years at South Alabama and most recently at Arizona State, joined Liverpool FC back in mid-January.

Sweden

Regular season action in the Damallsvenskan doesn’t resume until April (with Swedish Cup games and friendlies part of preseason preparations) but two seniors from last fall have made the move. One is Julia Ashley, the defender from North Carolina that was drafted by Sky Blue FC. She’s signed with Linköpings FC for the upcoming campaign.

Natalia Kuikka, part of Florida State’s title-winning side last fall, has also made the move to the Swedish first division. The Finland international will play for Göteborg. She won’t be the only one moving to the Damallsvenskan, as UCF goalkeeper Vera Varis signed with Limhamn Bunkeflo 07, a club based in Malmö.

In the Swedish second division (the Elitettan), Memphis defender and Canada native Olivia Gauthier signed on with Lidköpings FK Dam.

Norway

After wrapping up her career at Florida, Brazilian youth international and midfielder Lais Araujo has signed in the Toppserien, the First Division in Norway. She’s set to play for Arna-Bjørnar this season.

Australia

Like Julia Ashley, Hailie Mace was a high draft pick of Sky Blue FC and unlikely to play in the NWSL in 2019. The forward out of UCLA instead opted for a quick jaunt to Australia, where she signed with Melbourne City FC and played a pair of games. City missed out on a Finals (playoff) spot on goal difference, leaving Mace on the hunt for a new club.

South Korea

After a four-year career at Indiana, Austrian forward/midfielder Annelie Leitner has made the move overseas. She graduated in December and has since signed with Hwacheon KSPO WFC, in the WK League, the top division in South Korea.

Israel

Second-Team All-Big Ten performer Rachel Egyed joined Hapoel Ra'Anana AFC in January. The New Jersey native enjoyed a stellar final season in goal for the Terps, making 93 saves, an average of 5.20 per game for Maryland.

 
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