Ukraine - They have a bit of a different team this year. Losing some players and replacing them with new ones. Will still be a strong team, as majority of them are Cougar alumni. Stephanie Possberg is probably the strongest women’s goalie in the tournament. Tegan Koroluk and Tiffany Gyurek were away last WCP but returned this year and should be strong players for Ukraine.
Scotland - New team to WCP this year. Majority of the players are Cougar or Huskies players so they will be strong, but lack the experience playing together. Tayler Firth and Jayde McFee will probably be their top scorers.
USA - New team to WCP. Their roster has been on the DL but rumor is they have a lot of younger players. Like other new teams, they may struggle having not played as a unit.
El Salvador - Have always been a decent team but struggle to make it to the playoffs. They have some strong players from the Cougars such as Veronica Boesch and Kayla McDonald. Maybe this will be their year to make it out of their pool to the semis?!
Portugal - A new team to WCP. A lot of their players come from last year’s team Chile. Randi Schmeichel, Sara Anthony, and Sam Dustyhorn will provide consistency through the midfield, while Mallory Outerbridge and Mackenzie Bulych are both scoring threats.
Group A is definitely going to be the tougher pool. It is hard to predict the placing because Scotland, USA, and Portugal are new to the tournament, and Ukraine has a different team than the last 3 years. I predict it will be a tough fight between Ukraine, Scotland, El Salvador and Portugal for the top 2 spots.
Germany - Will be one of the top teams as always. They have been doing team workouts on top of practices and exhibition games so they are expected to be strong and fit. Meagan Cormier is definitely one of the best female players in the tournament and will be a major scoring threat (she has won the golden boot the last 2 years). They have other strong goal scorers such as Cara Gartner and Jessie Waller, and strong defenders including Lara Guzik and Tarina Mayer.
England - Rumor has it that most of their players are in high school, but should not be taken lightly. England is most often known for their coach, Ben Leung, who is very competitive in the tournament. He will do whatever it takes to win and I’m sure his players will do the same.
Poland - Should be able to score goals but will have to stay disciplined and organized defensively to compete. Not the most technically skilled team but has strong work ethic and the best fans. Look for Chantal Boudreau to be deployed all over the field.
Ireland - Typically not a playoff contender. I think Shelley Krahenbil continues to “anchor” the midfield. There are two young players with them in the RSA tournament – a midfielder with a deadly long range shot and super quick forward who made some good plays along the right side.
Canada - Has typically been a physical team and has added some youth this year. Jenna Schlosser holds the ball well, has good vision, and has a rocket when in space and on free kicks. Young new keeper has big save capabilities.
Netherlands - Played some close games in their first WCP last year and barely missed advancing from their group. Made up largely of Medicine Hat college players. From what I remember they were not overly quick but had strong legs and good possession.
Pool B is not going to be as competitive but it is a new year so anything could happen. My prediction is Germany will be first and England or Netherlands will be second.