By Official Florida FC
When the Women’s World Cup kicks off in New Zealand, a contingent of current and former Florida soccer players will also be on the pitch.
The 18 players will represent eight different countries – but not the U.S. women’s national team – at this year’s World Cup.
Sunshine State student athletes at 2023 Women’s World Cup
|Florida State||Jody Brown (Jamaica)*
Heather Payne (Ireland)*
Onyi Echegini (Nigeria)*
Maria Alagoa (Portugal)*
Gabby Carle (Canada)
Megan Connolly (Ireland)
Gloriana Villalobos (Costa Rica)
Cheyna Matthews (Jamaica)
|Florida||Deanne Rose (Canada)
Adriana Leon (Canada)
Havana Solaun (Jamaica)
Carina Baltrip-Reyes (Panama)
Tahnai Annis (Philippines)
|USF||Evelyne Viens (Canada)
Olivia Chance (New Zealand)
Trudi Carter (Jamaica)
Cristin Granados (Costa Rica)
|UCF||Genesis Perez-Watson (Costa Rica)*|
|*Reflects a current student-athlete|
The expansion from 24 to 32 teams has allowed Costa Rica to make is debut in the tournament. Elsewhere Jamaica is returning for its second straight Women’s World Cup and Nigeria will look to make the Round of 16 for the second straight tournament. Then, there is Canada, the reigning Olympic champion and dark horse to win this year’s World Cup.
Gabby Carle (Florida State), Deanne Rose (Florida), Adriana Leon (Florida) and Evelyne Viens (USF) won gold medals in Tokyo two years ago.
The state’s most prominent programs sent the largest contingent to the south Pacific. Florida State is sending eight players while Florida will send five alumnae. Meanwhile, Viens is USF’s only representative, and UCF incoming freshman Genesis Perez-Watson is on Costa Rica’s roster.
Perez-Watson captained Montverde Academy to the 2023 FHSAA Class 3A state championship. Though the 18-year-old has already earned a cap for her country, Japan and tournament favorite Spain are a step-in caliber from Florida private schools.
What separates the Seminoles from the other in-state programs is the fact four current players are on World Cup rosters. Jody Brown (Jamaica), Onyi Echegini (Nigeria), Maria Alagoa (Portugal) and Heather Payne (Ireland) helped Florida State advance to the 2022 College Cup.
Florida State has the most current and former players on World Cup rosters. Florida’s five alumni are tied for fourth with North Carolina, California and Penn State. USF’s four alumni are tied for eighth with Southern California.
(Editor’s Note: An original version of this story inaccurately noted the number of players with Florida ties and the total number of Florida State and USF players and alumni on Women’s World Cup squads. We apologize for the error.)