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9 Returning Players You Need to Watch this W League Season

By Staff, 05/03/23, 10:00AM EDT


Indy Eleven returner Katie Soderstrom

The 2023 USL W League season will feature some incredible returning talent from last season. From youth national team stars to the highest-caliber collegiate players, the W League has returners in every stage of their career - and we're so excited they've decided to spend their summer with us again. 

Here are nine returning W League players to keep an eye on this season!

Aaryn Gabriel – NC Fusion 

After appearing in seven W League matches last year, 17-year-old Aaryn Gabriel is returning to the NC Fusion squad again this season. The University of Minnesota commit was recently named to the 2023 USL Academy Cup Best XI Team for her incredible performances throughout the tournament in Tampa, where she tallied three goals and an assist. 

Autumn Cayelli – Greenville Liberty SC 

After scoring 5 goals for Greenville Liberty SC at the 2023 USL Academy Cup, Cayelli was awarded the Golden Boot and Best XI honors. The University of South Carolina commit will return to the Liberty’s W League squad this summer, where she will look to continue her scoring ways in hopes of helping Greenville advance beyond the semifinals.

Ayden Yates – Charlotte Independence  

 After contributing five goals and two assists last season, lone returning team captain Ayden Yates will lead the charge for the Independence’s front line once again this season. The Virgina Tech Hokie will have her sights set on steering Charlotte towards playoff qualification this year.  

Bailey Korhorn – Kalamazoo FC 

After netting 12 goals in 12 matches for Kalamazoo last season, Korhorn was nominated for W League Player of the Year. The former Western Michigan University forward finished the season with 25 points, second-most in the USL W League, and looks set to have another high-scoring campaign with the Michigan-based club this season.  

Elis Nemtsov – South Georgia Tormenta FC 

Elis Nemtsov was the second-leading goal scorer for last season’s W League champions South Georgia Tormenta FC. The veteran will shoulder a heavier load both offensively and as a leader for the Ibises in their title defense this season.

Giselle “Gigi” Espinoza – Southern Soccer Academy  

The 18-year-old Mexican Youth National Team regular will return for Southern Soccer Academy after starring in the U-17 World Cup last year. The Furman Paladin commit tallied two goals in 7 matches for the SSA Royals last season and will look to play an even greater role in the squad this season. 

Katie Soderstrom – Indy Eleven 

Soderstrom scored 11 goals last season for Indy and led the Girls in Blue to a Quarterfinals appearance off an undefeated regular season campaign. The Butler alum recently spent time in Angel City FC’s preseason training and will bring invaluable veteran experience and leadership to Indy’s squad this season. 

Maggie Shaw – Chattanooga Red Wolves SC 

The two-time SoCon Defensive Player of the Year is returning to the Red Wolves after anchoring the strong backline last season. Shaw and the Red Wolves narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, so the 2022 Team of the Year Second Team selection will be ready to take on the competitive South Central Division again. 

Nina Carlomusto – Long Island Rough Riders 

After earning Team of the Year First Team honors and contributing 2 goals in 11 games last season, Carlomusto will return to the Rough Riders’ backline this season. Long Island snuck into the playoffs last season as a wild card, so the FDU Knight will be a key piece in navigating the Rough Riders this season with their eyes set on clinching the Metropolitan Division title.  

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