By Coen Lammers
Goalkeeper Blair Currie has become the first New Zealand footballer since All Whites star Joe Bell in 2019 to be named in an All-American College team.
The 21-year-old was named in the All-American team after winning the NAIA women’s championship with her Spring Arbor University from Michigan at the finals tournament in Alabama.
The 2022 season was Currie’s first year in the NAIA league, but still managed to come out as the top-ranked goalkeeper across all 188 NAIA women’s football colleges.
As well as being named to the NAIA All-America team, North Cantabrian Currie was awarded Defensive Player of the Tournament and named to the Tournament Team.
Currie’s last turnout on home soil was a guest appearance for Western Springs in 2022. She’s previously played for Northern Rovers and Southern United.
In the United States, she has turned out for the IMG Academy, Seton Hall University and the San Antonio Athenians in the UWS competition.
In 2018, she was a member of the bronze-medal-winning U-17 New Zealand team at the FIFA World Cup in Uruguay.
Spring Arbor head coach Jason Crist sang the praises of the shot-stopper from Waikuku who played a huge role in the final against Marian College from Indiana, and enabled her team to hang onto their 1-0 lead.
“In the second half our legs were getting tired, but in the few moments when they got a look (at our goal), Blair was huge a couple of times and stepped up to make some big saves,” said Crist.
“If you want to win a championship, you need those moments when someone steps up to make big plays and Blair did that today.”
Marian had beaten Currie’s team during the regular season, so coach Crist was proud his team managed to turn around the fortunes in the final.
“Our league is so tough, so for us to getting it done is fantastic.”
Currie is a sophomore at Spring Arbor and has two playing seasons remaining.
She was attracted to the programme by its proven record — this was Spring Arbor’s third national championship win — under the tutelage of coach Crist, who this season became NAIA’s most successful soccer coach.
Crist’s best-known graduate is Bethany Balcer, currently with OL Reign in the American professional NWSL. Balcer also gained a national championship title and All-American honours while attending Spring Arbor. In 2019, Balcer was the NWSL Rookie of the Year.
More about US College scholarships
Friends of Football writer Joan Grey has written a three-part series explaining what young New Zealanders face if they are keen to combine study and football in the United States.
Read her series of stories here …