When it comes to midfielders, they’re usually the most versatile players on the pitch. Most need to have the ability to go box to box, create for their teammates or score when needed, and even do the dirty work to win the ball back. The college game gives the premier players the best opportunity to do that game in and game out over a four to five-year period. There are plenty of talented midfielders from around the country, but we’ve whittled the list down to ten. Here are ten of the best NCAA midfielders to watch in 2023.
Maya Doms (Graduate Senior) – Stanford Cardinal
Maya Doms is one of Stanford’s best players and, as a team captain and leader, has the Cardinal at No. 2 in the country. Doms was a second-team All-American and first-team PAC-12 last season and might make her way to first-team All-American if Stanford remains a top-five team this season.
Doms already has three goals and two assists this year and will surely eclipse her totals from last year after dealing with some injuries. With 24 goals and 16 assists in her career so far, she’s incredibly important to Stanford’s success and is one of the more versatile midfielders in the country.
Lexi Missimo (Junior) – Texas Longhorns
Lexi Missimo is one of the best and most prolific players in the country and should be one of the front-runners for the Hermann Trophy. Her numbers are ridiculous, with 12 goals and 15 assists already this season, increasing her total to 30 goals and 46 assists. She’s dominating her competition and will surely be a USWNT player one day.
Any former No. 1 high school recruit comes in with a ton of hype, and she has lived up to that and more in these last four seasons. Missimo could come back for another season, but seeing her go pro to the NWSL or Europe at the end of this season wouldn’t be a surprise.
Sunshine Fontes (Graduate Senior) – UCLA Bruins
Sunshine Fontes was a key member of UCLA’s National Championship-winning team last year and is even more important to the Bruins this season. Numerous players left to go pro, leaving even more responsibility for Fontes in the midfield.
Last year, Fontes was able to get forward and attack, but this year, teams have focused on slowing her down. The graduate senior does it all for UCLA with 20 goals and 13 assists and will add plenty to that total as the Bruins enter PAC-12 play.
Mya Jones (Senior) – Memphis Tigers
Mya Jones is the best NCAA midfielder in the AAC and has helped Memphis get to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. The Tigers are currently at No. 12 in the polls and could potentially move into the top ten if they run the table in conference play.
Jones has 18 goals and 22 assists in her career and is as reliable as they come in the midfield. If Jones continues improving and gets drafted into the NWSL, a senior call to the Canadian national team could be in the cards.
Taylor Huff (Junior) – Florida State Seminoles
Taylor Huff became one of the best midfielders in the SEC in her two seasons at Tennessee. This year, she followed her coach, Brian Penske, to Florida State, one of the biggest programs in the country. Huff was an important addition from the transfer portal as the team needed to add to their midfielder depth, with numerous players leaving last season.
Huff has five assists in six games, showing she’s more than just a goal scorer after scoring 15 goals in two years in Knoxville. With a stable of strikers, Huff’s role as a distributor will be more pronounced, and double-digit assists shouldn’t be a problem for Huff to reach.
Annie Karich (Sophomore) – Santa Clara Broncos
Santa Clara is a top 15 team in the country that just suffered their first loss to Stanford. Otherwise, this Broncos team could finish in the top ten by the season’s end.
Annie Karich was a highly touted prospect who lived up to the hype in her freshman season. Karich was first-team All-WCC and was the obvious choice for 2022 WCC Freshman of the Year.
With eight assists last year and two this season, her ability to create chances and get the ball to her teammates in key areas is huge for Santa Clara. Karich could be a future USWNT player one day. She’s definitely a player to watch with multiple years of eligibility left.
Felicia Knox (Senior) – Alabama Crimson Tide
Felicia Knox was one of the centerpieces of an Alabama team that went to their first-ever Final Four as a program. Knox recorded an eye-popping 20 assists last year and earned first-team All-American honors.
The Crimson Tide is a top-ten team once again, and Knox figures to be in the middle of it all as she helps control tempo and distribute to her teammates. The senior comes through when her team needs it most, as she scored a goal and an assist against Memphis this year. Her defensive work was a factor in securing a 1-1 draw against North Carolina as well. If Alabama is to get to another Final Four this year, Knox will have to play a big role.
Sam Meza (Senior) – North Carolina Tar Heels
Sam Meza has gotten better each and every year she’s been at Chapel Hill. As a freshman, she was third-team All-ACC. As a sophomore, she made the second-team All-ACC, and last year, she made first-team. Meza has made steady improvements and evolved into one of the best midfielders in the best conference in America.
This team lost in heartbreaking fashion in the national title game, and they’re hungry to right that wrong this season. This Tar Heels team is loaded, and Meza is one of the unsung heroes who doesn’t get enough credit for the work she does for this team.
Jaime Shepherd (Senior) – BYU Cougars
Jaime Shepherd is BYU’s most notable player and leader. She’s been a part of some great BYU teams for the last couple of years. Shepherd was a key figure in the team’s upset over UCLA, which led to them briefly capturing the No. 1 spot in the country.
With stars like Ashley Hatch and Mikayla Cluff succeeding in the NWSL, Jamie Shepherd could be the next star to take that step within the next year or two. As of now, BYU has a top 5 team in the country and is looking for a chance to go back to the national title game after doing so in 2021.
Hannah Bebar (Junior) – Harvard Crimson
Hannah Bebar is one of the best midfielders in the country that you might not know about. Harvard has been in the NCAA Tournament these last few years and has a chance to do it again with Bebar leading the way. Last year, she finished in the top 15 for the Hermann Trophy and was a first-team All-American. It’s safe to say that she will likely be a first-team All-American again.
Harvard might end up in the Top 25 rankings by the end of the season if they can run the gauntlet in the Ivy League, which shouldn’t give them much trouble outside of Brown. Hannah Bebar is one to watch not just this season but as a future USWNT player as well.
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